According to Mariam Webster, the word "Independence" can be easily defined as:
the freedom from outside control or support; the state of being independent.
synonyms: self-rule, self-determination, freedom, liberty
In honor of our Nation's birthday, we have decided to write about independence, and how it relates to Cauda Equina Syndrome.
I'm sure most of you have felt somewhat dependent on others since being diagnosed or post-surgery, I know I have. It seems as if I can remember every detail following my diagnosis and surgery. I don't know if this was because everything seemed to be going in slow-motion, or because I wanted to take it all in, and learn more about what Cauda Equina meant and how it would affect my life from here on out. I remember feeling alone in the hospital, but ultimately, I wouldn't know what loneliness felt like until going home.
Cauda Equina hit me out of nowhere. I was a young, fun-loving, college student without a care in the world before my world turned upside down. I constantly relied on myself, lived independently, and was on always on the run until my diagnosis. After my hospital stay, I had to move back in with my mom. Thankfully, she is the best mother I could ever wish for. The amount of time she had to dedicate to me after surgery can never be paid back. I hated relying on her, and felt somewhat like a burden. She had to pay for my medical bills, purchase my prescriptions, help me in and out of the shower & bed, and wait on me until I was able to master my walker. I woke up every day thinking, "What am I going to do when I’m on my own?” “How can I do this alone?” “Who is going to help me when it’s just me?" These questions flooded my mind, along with many others, plaguing my mind most days. I hated feeling this way, and hated the person I had become. So, I decided to find inner independence.
Nowadays, I’m living with my sister. No longer feeling dependent on others, I’m back to living independently. I’m no longer scared of being alone, and have finally become fully dependent on myself. I get up everyday living it as if it was my last, I live life for me, by me. I now fully appreciate the things I used to take for granted; I get out of bed, shower, take my meds, get ready (dress), travel to and from work, work a full day, write blogs, and do school work.
It’s a great feeling at the end of the day knowing I got through the day fully relying on myself. Even nights when pain gets bad, I feel so successful knowing that if I can get through the day I can get through my pain, which is a wonderful feeling.
So to you all, that feel as if you are a burden, to the ones who feel ultimate isolation, even with so many around them, to the ones who have no idea who they have become, I challenge you to look within yourself and find independence. I, thankfully, am able to live independently, and for some this may never happen.
But, there are ways to live independently even when you are relying on others. Find a hobby that you can have total control over whether it’s a blog, knitting, making YouTube videos, drawing, painting, etc. Find something that no one has to help you with. Something that you can do completely on your own.
Finding ways to accommodate your current state can also help to living more independently. This could include special reaching tools, crutches, walkers, AFO’s, etc. This could lead to you being able to get around, and doing things on your own regardless of your situation.
Lastly, don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to feel alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, even if it’s someone new. Turn to others when you need them, and turn to yourself when there is no one left. Find independence daily, and live your life beautifully.