On Saturday I went roller skating with a really good friend of mine. I wasn’t going to, because I know it’s an activity that has a potential for injury and I’m less than two weeks away from racing. I’m registered for the Banff half marathon, I’ve been training for it, and I’m really excited to run in such a beautiful park. I don’t want to risk injuries that could prevent me from racing. Even apart from my medical condition, I could still simply wipe out.
On the other hand, I haven’t seen my friend in months because we’ve both been so busy. This was yet another moment where I had to weigh the risks vs the benefits of going out.
1) Roller rink has flashing lights. Even though I’m not photosensitive as a trigger for seizures, I don’t particularly like them and don’t want to risk it suddenly becoming a trigger.
2) Sitting on my couch at home alone poses no chance that I will fall and hurt anything.
3) The possible injuries could be significant.
1) I see my friend who I miss.
2) I see my friend who I miss.
3) I see my friend who I miss (this is big enough it counts for three).
Equipoise to Potential Risks
1) If I go skating somewhat regularly and lights aren’t a trigger, what are the chances that this will have become a trigger in the last couple months?
2) If I have a seizure on my couch, or anywhere in my house (i.e. between the washroom or kitchen and couch), I could still get injured. Most of my seizures have happened at home.
3) During roller skating, I wear a helmet and wrist guards. So unless I wear a helmet and wrist guards at home (which I don’t), my head and wrists are safer than at home.
So I went skating. There were flashing lights. I almost wiped out (and nearly took a little kid with me). I wore the helmet and wrist guards even though I was the only adult doing so. Nothing terrible happened. I had an awesome time. It was great to see my friend, we had really great conversation, and it was fun to be doing something active together at the same time as visiting.
There were so many things that could have prevented me from going roller skating. I don’t skate as often as I did when I played roller derby, so I’m really not great at it. I know on weekends there are usually bigger crowds (including little kids) which requires paying more attention to everything. Flashing lights, loud music, people talking, it would be really easy to be overstimulated. My worry about injuries could have stopped me, whether from epilepsy or just from being unable to do a proper cross-over. So much of this comes from uncertainty and insecurity, which is, ultimately, fear. It’s the fear of things out of our control. It’s the fear of powerlessness. It’s the fear and anticipation that the worst could happen.
But what if something wonderful happens?
We have the power of choice to decide what we do. We can look at our options and decide that the risks are too great. We can stay where we are, comfortable, (maybe) safe, and complacent. Or we can realize that the first, terrible and terrifying risks that we thought of are not necessarily as terrible as we thought. I can worry about the worst thing that could happen and it could expand from “I don’t want to go roller skating tonight because I could get injured or have a seizure” to “I don’t want to go roller skating ever”. It could expand to “I don’t want to go out ever”. When we let our fears of the worst-case-scenario control our decision, that’s when we become helpless and have limited ourselves. We are not limited. We have the power to choose what we do with our time, with our days, with our lives. Sometimes we will get hurt. This applies to everyone in every life. It’s about the knowledge that there are risks but believing that what we can gain or experience far exceeds those risks. It’s about the power that we have to choose what we value and what we want to achieve.
We do not have to be bound by limitations.
We can choose to live an exciting life full of roller skating and running. We can choose to enjoy quiet evenings in with popcorn and movies. We can choose to do these things with friends or alone. The important thing is that we actively choose what we want to do and who we want to be.