It felt like it was challenging me. This grey lump of plastic with various pipes and accessories that lurks in the dark of the cupboard in our hall. The purpose it has is to be a helpful household tool and yet it represented pain, difficulty and an innate ability to serve as an obstacle to the seemingly simple task of sucking up household dust, dog hair and other of life’s debris. Our vacuum cleaner had become my enemy. Yes, I say that it had become my enemy, rather than my disability being my enemy; for, largely, all that was disabling about vacuum cleaning was the vacuum cleaner, not my own physical health deficiencies.
This is a matter of perspective. I am a great believer in focusing on what one can do, not upon what one cannot. I can vacuum clean, it’s just that the reason I always ended up bruised, in pain from the muscle strain and in an exhausted heap of sweat and frustration was not that I am disabled, but that the equipment was unable to cater for my disability.
Being ‘Solutions Focused’.
In true ‘problem-solving’ mode, I have sought a solution and found it. It is a different type of vacuum cleaner. The main body of the machine is a small hand held motor and dust collector, attached to the long cleaning pipe and usual cleaning head.
I find it bizarre that I am even sitting here feeling excited about buying a new vacuum cleaner, but one of the purposes of my Blog is to try to help people find ways to overcome adversity. This has been one of mine. Further still, I recommend it! The benefits of finding a solution are many; feeling more empowered, feeling less disabled, things become easier, stress levels reduce and we can begin to feel more positive.
You know, I have lived for quite some time with the impact of health upon my ability to lead a ‘normal’ life. That said, with the support of my Partner, I think I do rather well. I continue to work and study and my social life is very full. I have learnt to adapt and this often requires an ability to see solutions; rather than getting stuck by focusing on the problem.
Achieving a Successful Outcome.
I can now do the vacuum cleaning, relatively well. This means that I am less disabled, where this task is concerned, than I was before. My disability has not changed, but I revisited how I go about the task and found a solution to the main factor contributing to my struggle; to change the machine I was using. There will still be days when this task is beyond me, but now there will be more days when it will not.
This is how we must all try to face disability, and adversity. Review every aspect of the presenting problem and see if there is a solution to some of the difficulty. Anything that can help reduce or remove elements of the problem, will lead to an easier outcome. It may seem like common sense to some, but it may also seem like an overwhelming and impossible task to others.
This is just a brief post, but I hope that it serves to remind people to try to be solutions-focused. Dwelling on the problem can be the most disabling thing of all. That said, we must also recognise that for some people and in some cases, solutions cannot be found; but it is important that we explore all options before we reach that conclusion. If a solution cannot be found, we must then ask for help.
Update: Since writing this Blog post, my former diagnosis of Fibromyalgia has been changed. I have, as of June 27th 2017, now conclusively been diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.
If you have experienced a similar situation, then perhaps you would like to leave a comment below and share your story?