When what once brought peace now brings terror


Last week, my son Declan and I went on a short trip to County Kerry. As Kerry is, it was beautiful. But something happened which has now driven home to me that my life is forever changed and what I once found peace and solace in, I won’t be able to any longer.

I feel like a vital part of me has been stolen away and it’s left me emotionally devastated.

I grew up in the mountains of northern Arizona and spent most of my life living, camping, fishing, hiking and driving through the Rockies of the American West. It is inextricably linked to who I am as a person. It is in the mountains that I’ve always found the most peace and, if I’m to be honest, felt the closest to God.

Last week while in Kerry, I discovered that whatever is going on with my brain’s ability to perceive my surroundings, it is truly going to inhibit my abilities from this point forward in my life.

I first noticed this extreme sense of vertigo (which I’ve never had before) last summer while in Norway when driving over bridges or along mountsides. I wrote it off to being exhausted, having only lost my precious Brendan Bjørn weeks earlier.

It turns out that isn’t the case.

Declan and I took two drives: One out the Dingle Peninsula from Tralee to Dunquin Pier (not going over Conor’s Pass, FYI) and the other from Tralee to Cahersiveen. I was TERRIFIED. I froze. I had panic attacks. My head swam as the roadway dropped down sharply to the sea or the mountain road dropped sharply to the valley floor. If you’ve ever watched a video of a more extreme rollercoaster ride from the first person perspective and felt your head and stomach have an out of body experience, that’s it. That’s what I felt…except I was the one behind the wheel.

Nearly 40 years of driving in the mountains and through the canyonlands and now it’s done. I feel like someone has just stolen my ability to access the part of me which I have desperately hoped to recapture after so many years of being isolated and homebound as a carer. Correction. That ability has been stolen, somehow.

I had an MRI of my brain done a couple months ago to try and find a cause for these vertigo issues – or is it a sensory perception issue??? – and ironically I got a phone call while in Kerry with the results. “All clear.” It would seem my brain is normal. (I’m sure there are a few jokes to be had about that, but do resist)

I was chatting to a friend who also has long covid and apparently this is one of the possible outcomes. If it is long covid related, it’s from when I had covid in March 2020. Do the symptoms of long covid not go away after 3 years? I don’t know but I’ll have to find out.

In the meantime, I need to re-examine my plans and hopes for the future. I’ll need to work around, or with, this health related situation which has left me heartbroken on top of the heartbreak I already feel.

But I don’t know how.

And I’m lost yet again.


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