Dealing with Loss after NMO
There are a ton of things that I was attached to before I had an NMO attack. I was a person who would dress up, wear heels, and strut my stuff in my cool car all around town. Sometimes, I'd just get out and ride around and stop in at the first place I saw just to do something. Anything was better than sitting around, and shopping was by far my favorite thing to do. Then I got sick and everything changed.
I was a "cool car" person
Taking a look back, way back, before I was diagnosed, I was in a car club. I had a beautiful green Dodge Charger with 26' chrome rims, tinted windows, a sound system, and 3 TVs. Her name was Ms. Betty. My husband has an abnormal obsession with cars, so this was something he and I could enjoy together. We'd go out for rides over the weekend. He'd take his car, I'd take mine, and we would meet up at some random destination, like the car wash or a park. Wherever we went, people would marvel at the fancy work that we'd done to the cars. Sometimes we'd link up with the other car club members and really show out. It was SOOO much fun. After moving to Texas, my work was so far away that I had to give up this hobby for a bit due to the fear of damaging my wheels. This was to be temporary and eventually, I'd get back into it. No biggie, or so I thought.
Life has changed since my NMO diagnosis
I got really sick and was diagnosed with the rare condition, NMO, or neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder. After my first attack, I was left extremely weak with double vision and severe balance problems along with pain. I spent a lot of time trying to recover. Meanwhile, my car just sat, patiently waiting for me to get back on the driver's side and take her for a spin. Unfortunately, that day never came. I never regained the ability to engage in activities that I used to do before I got sick. I couldn't help but feel anger during this time.
It was time to face the harsh reality
A year after my first attack had passed, and I was still in a wheelchair with double vision and weakness. There was no way I was going to be able to get behind the wheel of a car and drive in this condition. Not only that, but I was still working partially at home and in-office at my job, and the stress of it all was making the NMO worse. I had to face what was right in front of me: The reality was I was NEVER going to be the same again. I was in such a bad place physically that I was forced to quit my job. With money running low, shortly after, I was forced to sell my car; my prized possession. Being a frugal person, it was a really big deal that I put money into my car for aesthetics. Me, the queen of cheap, almost couldn't bear it the day I saw my car leaving my driveway with someone else in it and that was just the beginning.
Dealing with the loss
I had a hard time getting over losing the things I was most proud of. Quite frankly, I felt a bit shallow for being so upset about it. However, I realized, I had every right to be mad about it. It was MY stuff and I worked my butt off for it. It wasn't fair that NMO showed up, took over my life, and changed it forever. Why did I have to just deal with that? I'd have to admit, I had my moments. I even had full-blown tantrums! Everything from clothes, shoes, you name it, GONE. But, after a while, I got over it. I wasn't going to continue to harp on the losses, and I began to focus my attention on what I was gaining from the experience.
Finding my purpose after starting over
I took all the time I needed to grieve the losses. Aside from my beautiful car, losing my good health was at the top of the list. However, I didn't stay in that mindset. At the end of the day, nothing material can define me. NMO has opened my eyes to the irrelevance of material things. I've started focusing my attention on building myself up. Leaving things that are unimportant to my purpose in the past. Today, I've found passion in advocating. I am stronger and more confident than I've ever been. With that and my family, nothing more could make me happier.
What losses did you experience after you were diagnosed with NMO?
How often do you experience public spaces not being ADA compliant?