Rose F. Neuben
Because of my TBI, I have ataxia (for people not familiar with that, it is an inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movements that is symptomatic of some central nervous system disorders and injuries). The ataxia makes it much easier for me to lose my balance, and that puts me at risk for falls. I also deal with fatigue issues, so I use a rollator walker. It is easier to get up from a fall with the walker, and I can sit on the seat to rest when experiencing fatigue.
I can’t carry an umbrella when it rains; I need both hands to drive the walker because of my balance issues. That means the walker, everything on it (I usually have my bag on it, and any packages I need to take to the car or bring back to the condo), and I are all going to get wet. I avoid going out in rain because of that, and plan my activities around it if I can. Sometimes I have to change plans because of the forecast, and have had to reschedule appointments or miss a day of volunteering at BIAM because of rain.
Snow and ice are also an issue for me, so I do not go out if there is any snow or ice on the sidewalk or parking lot. Walking on snow or ice is practically an invitation to fall for me, so I don’t do it. Being stuck in the house is not usually a problem that causes cabin fever, but it was in 2010 when we had three blizzards in a row (Snowmageddon!). I was stuck in the house for 11 days, and got a serious case of cabin fever!
I always watch the news during the week so I can see what the forecast for the next day is, and monitor it closely on weekends. I watch a DC station (Channel 7), and sometimes they guess and get it wrong. Other times they get it exactly right, but big storms or weather events usually cause me to also check other stations to monitor updates—Channels 9, 11, 13, and the Weather Channel.
In the last year, we have had some unusual weather events, and a couple of them became a big deal for everyone: the earthquake and the hurricane. The earthquake caused a lot of my neighbors to come out so we could talk about it since none of us had ever experienced anything like that, and the hurricane made my building lose power for a week. I was the only person who did not lose any power. Some of my neighbors lost some power, but had it in some places, and others lost it completely. The biggest issue for me that week was getting in and out of the building, so my health tech or a neighbor had to help me. I live on the second floor; I can get up and down the stairs, but I need help getting my walker downstairs to go out, and back upstairs after I return.
Dealing with weather has become a routine part of my new normal.