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Finding a "routine" while adjusting to a new life

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  • Finding a "routine" while adjusting to a new life

    Hi everyone!

    Sorry I've been off the forum so much lately - school is

    So to make things short and sweet, I'm not as recovered or as well-adjusted after my fall as I thought I was. I think I was in denial about a lot of things and I kept pushing to get back to the old me....you can imagine how well that worked out. So after five weeks of non-stop-ness on a 19 credit pre-med course load gunning for graduation in June while trying to bring two horses back into shape and pushing myself to get back into road racing shape, along with twice weekly physical therapy appointments (not to mention all the exercises I have to do!), family commitments, Pony Club...the list goes on....trying to do all of this while rewiring my brain after the TBI and dealing with the seizures that started shortly after New Year....My plate is getting kind of full. Then yesterday I saw my new neurologist for the first time and she started me on an anticonvulsant right away and ordered an MRI and an EEG in addition to a bunch of blood work to check endocrine function and some vitamin levels and stuff - awesome that she is being so thorough and really getting to the bottom of everything, but it's just that much more to do. And then I started Keppra today and I can already tell that adjusting to the dosage is going to be buckets of fun.

    I'm just feeling a bit in over my head right now and I need to re-learn how to live my life. How do I find that routine? I'm a person who thrives on routine, but right now I have none. My life has been turned upside down - my brain doesn't work anymore, my seizures are not controlled, and I'm trying to adjust to a new medication that makes an opioid trip seem cute.

    I start to feel a little better, so I take advantage of it and I push hard - physically and cognitively. Then, as would be expected, I start to fall apart again and go through setbacks. But over the last few weeks, instead of generally getting better, I've generally been getting worse. I don't want to keep getting worse...I want to get better! But I don't know how to pace myself or find that middle ground.

    I guess I just need to know how to find order in my life again. I've been working with one of the counselors from Psychological Services on campus since early Fall Term, and he is great and has really been instrumental in keeping my sanity, but I feel like I need advice from people who have been there before.

    One of the biggest problems I am having right now is taking care of my horse. I board at a small, private barn where we do all of the work except AM feedings. Two other girls board out there with me and they are amazing, but historically I have been the one to manage everything there and do 80% of the work for our three mares plus the barn owner's six horses. Lately it's been hard for me to make it out there four days a week to feed. I find this totally unacceptable, as my mare is a bit of a special needs girl - physically and emotionally. But with everything going on in my life, it's just so hard for me to get out there everyday to ride her and clean her stall and blanket and etc. So I set the small goal of six days a week (unless I have appointments or meetings or something) going out and at a minimum cleaning her stall (which is a 10 minute chore) and handwalking for 15 minutes. Anything I can do on top of that is bonus. So far, so good. But I still feel like it's not enough.

    I just feel like I've lost control of my life - academically, physically, socially, responsibility-wise - and I don't know how to get it back.
    "The FEI is often in error, but never in doubt." - Jim Wofford

    "You do not find the happy life. You make it." - Camilla Eyring Kimball

  • #2
    You have GOT to let go of some things....you are mentally and physically over extended. BIG time. Take fewer school credit hours. Change your boarding situation. Ease up on riding/barn time. Get more rest. Someone else to ride your horses or lease one or sell one. Pre-med is no major for a 2 horse owner. You are not superwoman. Proof that you are still impaired is your ongoing attempts at maintaining this insane life of yours!!! Somethings gotta give! You might find you'll have fewer seizures, have more energy, who knows! You may well have to accept that returning to your previous lifestyle is just not gonna happen. Your health comes first. Horses second or third. You HAVE to get control by limiting what you do. Time management means some letting go. Changing priorities is hard. Listen to the advice those who know you best give. This overwhelmed feeling is common after TBI. Work with it; you can get ahold of it.

    PS. I'm an RN who's worked in a TBI rehab hospital.....not an expert but...just my 2 sense!!


    • #3

      Square one is your health so start there and add slowly

      WOW ~ too much ~ give yourself some time to adjust

      Jingles for you to sit down and plan your work and work your plan ~
      Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


      • #4
        Wow! You have my respect. That's just a lot to take in, and it's not even my life. I'm going to have to echo the previous two posters. It sounds like you don't want to let anyone down, but imagine the let down if you completely break yourself down. Put a few things on the backburner, and DON'T feel guilty about it. After all you've been through, an f-ed up timeline won't kill you.
        "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


        • #5
          Start by giving yourself an enormous amount of credit for doing so much. Take a breath.

          Now, pull out a pencil and make a list. What is the most important thing to you? Probably your health? What is next is anybody's guess...family, friends, horse, school?

          Just write a few things on your list. Now, all the other things on your list? There is a lot that needs to go so that you can focus on the few things you can and want to do. Start having frank conversations with your classmates, family, friends, and fellow barn help.

          Your conversation should have a lot of NOs in it. What you can't do. Remember to breathe. Next, ask for help -- but only from people who are not flaky.

          One thing that stands out is that your boarding situation is NOT OKAY. Way too much work for you!!! And with people who are not dependable. The other horses are not your problem or business. Just your horses.

          Can you move your horse?To another barn where you don't have so much work? Can you ask a friend or trainer help you make these arrangements? Can a friend help one or two days a week for a month or so?

          Can your folks help with funding to get you through the next 6 months -- maybe for boarding?

          Finally, consider dropping some classes. I have worked in several admission programs and the Deans and advisers have leeway with medical issues. They can help you restructure your courses/program so that you THRIVE and succeed. They want you to be a success and want you to go on to medical school. Maybe finish next fall/winter?

          Remember, your accident and medical issues may actually be useful as you apply to schools. It gives you some insight and a really big mountain to climb. Admissions will take into consideration how you have successfully handled this when reviewing your application.

          Again, give yourself credit for doing so much. Now, restructure your crazy life to give yourself some sanity. I'm in PDX, PM if you like. Best wishes.


          • #6
            Good advice.

            I am going to give you permission to Let. Some. Things. Go.
            Sometimes, you are simply constrained by health, weather, whatever. And you know what? THAT'S OK.

            And you don't have to keep your life structured the way it used to be. Be easier on yourself - I also grant you permission to be nice to yourself.

            We want you to feel better. If your horse suffered an injury, would you insist they keep the same routine/schedule as when you were actively competing? of course not.

            So try and be as understanding for yourself.
            a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


            • #7
              Originally posted by Justa Bob View Post
              Finally, consider dropping some classes. I have worked in several admission programs and the Deans and advisers have leeway with medical issues. They can help you restructure your courses/program so that you THRIVE and succeed. They want you to be a success and want you to go on to medical school. Maybe finish next fall/winter?
              I just wanted to second this - TALK TO PEOPLE at your school - your adviser, the disability services office (whatever funky name they have - seems like everywhere calls it something different, but they're the people you go to for special arrangements for tests and things) even professors or other people who work at the school who you might have some sort of relationship with. (Maybe you've seen a lot of your departmental secretary? Guess what, he or she will know exactly who needs to be talked to and will often be able to get the ball rolling for you.)

              In my case, it's not my own medical situation but my mom being diagnosed with cancer that threw a wrench into the works, but my school has been nothing but understanding about my need to sort of take things as they come, and were generous enough to rearrange the degree requirements slightly so I could take a class to fill out my requirements where I wouldn't be expected to work routinely in group projects, at my request.

              (At the start of term, we didn't know if my mom was going to need a bone marrow transplant during term - it looks now like it won't be until later, fingers crossed, but I didn't want to be in classes where I was a part of a production team for a project and then have to withdraw to help my mom and leave my teammates without a key member of the group, since when you're making films with a small crew EVERYONE is critical. It just didn't seem fair or professional to go into a class where pretty much everything is a group project, knowing I might have to withdraw from classes sometime during the term.)

              Point being, you need to talk to people - they know what the school can do and what allowances and adjustments can be made, but you have to let them know you need assistance. (Note that this doesn't mean you have to spill out all your woes - you just need to tell them enough that they understand what you're having trouble with and what help you need.)

              Also - a lot of schools have counseling services who are used to just this kind of thing - not necessarily due to medical issues, but it's fairly common for college students to feel the pressure and have trouble balancing everything. The people there should also have some idea of what the school can do to help, and should be able to sit down with you and help you make plans and figure out how to deal with things. (I know the one at my school will also do referrals to outside counseling services, if you don't 'mesh' with the people they have available - counseling is a pretty personal thing, you need someone you feel comfortable talking to.)


              • Original Poster

                You're Right...

                You're all right. There's just too much stuff. Even before the accident, I had a problem with filling my life with stuff - commitments, responsibilities...just stuff. Now I'm realizing that I can't do that.

                Yesterday I had three seizures in a cluster, which is odd. It's actually never happened before. It kind of made me realize that I MUST slow down. So I've made some changes.

                The biggest change is that I put my mare up for half lease. She will stay at the barn we're at now for multiple reasons - affordability, mainly, but also because the barn owner is amazing and lets us run things the way we need them to be run. That's critical for me because my Vegas has super bad COPD and some other issues that are not conducive to a big boarding barn. I'm just too picky about the way things are done to have her in a 20+ horse facility. And my current barn is five minutes from my apartment - HUGE plus! But leasing Vegas out for 2-3 days a week to someone who is responsible and competent will ensure that she gets at least some exercise and is taken care of for those days.

                And as far as the other boarders go, they are both really good people - It's just that before the accident I was Superwoman and I was riding my horse, one of my barn owner's and both of theirs, so combine that scenario with my natural leader-type personality and the fact that I really do know more about horses than they will ever forget and I just took over the show. And I was okay with that - it was easy and comfortable for me. For the first couple weeks after the accident they were awesome about helping me out, but then they just expected me to go back to my previous level, so I tried, which is where we are now. But over the past few days I have been more open with them about what I can and can't do and I've stopped expecting it of myself and now I am making sure that they take their share of the work and that I am not the one to do everything. I'm still more than happy to oversee deworming and turnout and feeding schedules, but other people can do the work. So that is a HUGE stress off my shoulders. And as soon as I find a lessor I will be in good shape that way.

                Also, I've decided to take a break from riding and training at least until the end of the term. In reality, I'm kind of being forced to do this because my spine issues have become so bad that the thought of walking across campus is bad enough, let alone running, cycling, swimming, or even riding. PT has given no improvement over the past three months (in fact, things have gotten worse), so I'm headed to a spinal specialist later this month and surgery is a very real possibility, so I figure I don't need to be out there pounding the pavement making things worse. I would rather miss my triathlon/marathon/eventing season this year and still be able to do all those things at 30 than push it this year and break hard. So we will see what the new spine doctor says, but even just giving myself those 20-30 hours per week that I spend training and riding will be sooo much more time.

                So really, all I'm left with is school. And school is really going ok. I'm keeping up in my classes and I made it through the first round of midterms alright. I still want to graduate in June, but that means focusing mainly on school. And I do have accommodations in my classes through Disability Access Services - I take my tests in a quiet room with extra time and I have note-takers in all my classes. We also have an Academic Success Center that helps with all sorts of things related to kids who struggle. I'm going to go there either today or tomorrow and have them help me arrange some study and prioritization techniques. I will also talk to my advisor before I register for next quarter, because I only need four more classes to graduate, but one of them I *might* be able to get waived, since I have done several other similar classes and the physical lab requirement might be too much for me to handle - it's a beef productions class that requires us to go out to the school's beef ranch each week and do hands-on cattle management. I would LOVE to take that class, but I would also like to keep my vertebrae inside my body.

                I will try to be more open with my professors as I run into problems - I really am doing okay in my classes this term and next term will be MUCH easier - no biochemistry!!!

                And I have been meeting with a counselor at Psychological Services since early fall term - he is awesome and is really helping me out with some stuff.

                So...I've cut back so much stuff. Now I'm just left with school and all my doctors' appointments and adjusting to my anticonvulsants - that part is hard. Keppra is supposed to be one with few side effects, but I've only been on it for a few days and I've already hit some of the infamous "irritability" issues (ok, that's an understatement - yesterday felt like an epic PMS day) and the nausea is ridiculous. All I really want to do is sleep, but if I am up and doing things than it is better...although the most exciting thing I've eaten the past 72 hours is a piece of bread. I suppose it will pass though, and I am already noticing that the seizures are decreasing - YAY

                Now, the hard part is accepting all these changes. I've done them, but I'm not really happy about them. I've learned and grown so much since the fall and that's all been for the better, but I still want so much to be that amazing superhuman girl I was before the fall...the person who could take 20 credits and maintain a ridiculous GPA, keep three horses and herself in peak fitness, volunteer, study, sleep for three or four hours, then wake up and do it all again. I want to be that girl with a 150 IQ and a photographic memory who didn't pay attention in class and still set the curve on all the exams. That person was amazing. But I'm not that person anymore and I still don't know how to come to terms with that. So much has changed, but so much is the same. I'm a different person, but I'm the same person.

                I think that's where I struggle the most - coming to terms with my disability and my limitations. The word limitations wasn't even in my vocabulary before...now it's my word of the month - learning to accept my limitations. And you know what? That just really sucks.
                "The FEI is often in error, but never in doubt." - Jim Wofford

                "You do not find the happy life. You make it." - Camilla Eyring Kimball


                • #9
                  The whole situation does suck. At least, when you are an MD/DO or whatever, you will have some empathy for average people and for people who have endured a lot of things.

                  Sometimes, life is really, really, hard. This evening, I took care of a kid who came in with a really drunken mom. The drunken mom proceeded to act inappropriately (including calling her daughter demeaning names), to fall out of a chair twice, then have a generalized seizure, then awaken and go back to her drunken, wild, behavior. The poor kid tried to make sure the checkbook didn't get lost, call her father, and do everything she could do to take care of her mom. I felt so sad for her.

                  I don't know why life sometimes has to suck. All I can do is offer my bit of empathy. You will be better at offering empathy after all you have been through. Just make sure you never completely forget this difficult time after everything goes back to "normal." Take care of yourself as best you can right now, so you will have some coping left to share with others later in your career.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Vegas Sky View Post

                    I think that's where I struggle the most - coming to terms with my disability and my limitations. The word limitations wasn't even in my vocabulary before...now it's my word of the month - learning to accept my limitations. And you know what? That just really sucks.
                    Well the word "limitations" has never entered my vocabulary and I've been in a chair now for 20 yrs. I focus on what I "can do" and not what I can't. So to me I would make a list of all the things you can do and prioritize them into what is the most important to you. And many times you will discover that there are a bunch of things you can do but you have to do it in a different way then you have ever done before. So think outside the box. Horses are rather forgiving creatures and your one special needs horse might suprise you and actually step up to a challenge of a different schedule or way of doing things.

                    Good luck.


                    • #11
                      hang in there!!

                      and give yourself a break. you have come SUCH a long way in a short time. think about having the same goals, but extend the time-line.