Very bad memories of nearly passing out in the drivers seat. While the car was moving. Limitations with sitting upright (and not moving around) for any length of time. Abnormal heart rates as a result of being in one position. Being confined to a sitting position with no chance to take ‘vertical’ breaks. Many, many episodes of actually losing consciousness because of the dysautonomia (dysfunction of the part of my brain that regulates involuntary bodily responses- blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, temperature control, etc.). While I’ve never passed out in the car, the times I’ve bitten the floor on solid ground are literally too many to count. (I don’t count well when I’m not conscious). Having driven myself more than 5 miles one-way only one time in over 6 years. Not exactly great associations with driving my car.
But I want to go to a celebration of a friend’s life at the end of this month. I want to be there. She died one week ago today, and the celebration is going to be about all of the good she contributed to the lives of thousands of kids and adults during her ministry at several places. For me, it’s mostly about a wonderful camp I attended as a kid, and then worked at during the summers of 1980, 1981, and half of 1982. She was a major part of the camp being my spiritual home, then and now. I want to be with others who are going to celebrate her life. It’s going to be a wonderfully positive gathering.
Yet I’m quite nervous about driving the 50 miles, give or take, one-way, in order to be there. I know that I have enough ‘warning’ when my body starts to act in weird ways that signal I’m in trouble and need to pull over. I know that the worst thing that can happen is that I’ll need to put the car seat back, so I can get the blood moving into my head. I know that I’ve got my cell phone if I should get into major trouble. I know I’ve got my ‘as needed’ medications for many possible problems, and assorted equipment to prevent getting overheated. I know that I generally pack enough stuff to prevent or take care of just about any medical condition known to exist, for the entire population of a small third world country. I know that I’ve survived up to this point, and that the vast majority of things people worry about never happen. In my head I know these things…my heart hasn’t caught up.
I know that God won’t abandon me, and that there is comfort in His presence. I know that this celebration is mostly gratitude about how He used this wonderful woman to extend His love for more than 40 years to so many kids. I know that I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). I do believe that, and so I will go. And I will still be prepared for anything that could come up. That’s not a lack of faith, that’s common sense and being responsible. And I will ask God to knock a knot in my head when I get panicky, and bring me back to reality.
Sometimes I need to remember that I drove a 17 foot U-Haul (total of 23 feet of truck including the cab) from deep in the heart of Texas back to my childhood home near Chicago, with only my dog- so no relief driver. I had been diagnosed with the dysautonomia prior to that trip, and while I was much more stable then, there were still risks, but I made it in two days with no disasters. Well, I did wipe out part of a McDonald’s drive-thru sign somewhere in Oklahoma, but the insurance took care of that- at least on the truck. 🙂 I need to remember all of the ‘day trips’ around central Texas that I used to take, with my camera and a ‘let’s go’ attitude. Granted, I was healthier, but my driving skills are solid, and actually a little bit of ‘old fart’ in their adventurousness. Even my 80 year old dad will pull out on the road before I will if making a left turn onto a street without traffic lights. I’m not a risky driver. I’m a wuss. So, I should be just fine.
Between now and then, I’ll get my stuff ready- ice vest, ice vest inserts, ice bandana ice packs, diabetic supply kit with insulin, any ‘as needed’ medicines for a variety of potential issues, a couple of bottles of water, a bottle of Coca Cola for any potential low blood sugar problems, insulated bag and ice packs for all of the cold stuff, wheeled walker with the seat, ad nauseum… I figure the car can serve as a tent if I get stuck somewhere, but I’ve also got a gizmo that will jump my battery if it dies out, so I’ve got that covered, too. I have to get home in time for my dog’s heart failure medicine; motivation to make this all go smoothly.
I’ll be so glad I decided to go to the celebration of her life. She continues to be a role model for reaching out and grabbing opportunities to ‘be able’, and not live in a disabled world. She continues to encourage me with my memories of her life. The least I can do is show up to celebrate her. ❤