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The Fearless Factor

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

By Ellen Greenberg

As I sat down to write about limitations I caught an episode of Fear Factor. I have never watched this show in its entirety; however, I found myself both engrossed and grossed out by it. This past year I began to realize all of my limitations and how to work within them.

I am always the girl with the can-do attitude. I often strive for things that seem impossible to many. For instance, I recently received a master’s degree. I auditioned for America’s Got Talent last year, because it was in Manhattan—close enough to where I live and I owed it to myself, for the sheer experience of the thrill, nothing more.

All of that left me feeling deflated when I realized I couldn’t work full time because of Social Security disability—a very humbling place to be when you are 36 years old and have your good days and try to forget about the bad ones. I would often not acknowledge them.

It took a year of severe debilitating migraines to slow me down and teach me the lesson of limitations. This took doctor appointments, finally getting an adult CHD doctor at my hospital, and searching for the right neurologist to handle my headaches, in addition to months of physical therapy and acupuncture.

I began to wonder, when or where would I even have the time to fit in a full-time job if I were allowed to have one? This is not to say bad things about the disability system. I can have a low-wage daily job but where would the appointments fit in? I would require too many sick days for a steady job. After discussions with family and close friends I learned if I do something heavy or busy one day I have to lay low the next day. Every day it is physically difficult getting out of bed and hurrying myself along. I must pace myself and am beginning to learn that.

Most people do not or cannot understand this at my age—adding to the frustration—but I accept this and explain myself when needed. It is all about modifying my lifestyle without pushing the boundaries daily. If that means moving a towel closer, sitting while I do my hair, putting on pajamas at 8 p.m. at night, and getting meds ready ahead of time so I do not feel rushed and can fall asleep instantly, then that is what needs be done. I try to schedule appointments in the afternoon so I have time to get prepared in the morning.

Lately, I find I am slowing down more. My can-do attitude is still there, even if it is just making it through a few chores or errands. That gives me a sense of self. It is most important to accept that things are limited for some and not for others. Everyone has his or her own line of limits.

Last week I became a consultant and owner for a line of pampering products. This is fantastic because I set my hours, and where and how I work. I can take a sick day or just a nap if needed and I don’t have to report to anyone. I am still working and staying busy but I am beginning to set the pace. So far it has brought me nothing but joy and some new Facebook buddies. There is more work that I need to do to remember what I did and what I want to do, and that will come with the New Year.

For now, not feeling depressed or ashamed of slowing down is enough. Even the people on Fear Factor have their limits and as previously stated, it was some gross things to watch, let alone do. How would a contestant handle those challenges with the daily ones we have? I think that is a great question to take and ponder as we close the chapter on 2014 and move into 2015. I will write about this theme again but am more interested in what others have done to come to terms with their personal limitations.


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The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

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