I write this from the floor. My knees are scrunched up in front of me and my caps serve as wrist stands. I’d write at my desk–my writing desk–but I can’t sit there long before my neck goes out which causes a headache which causes a sad face. Like this :( That’s exactly how I look when I’m feeling bad if you were wondering.
Today I woke up feeling rough. Rougher than usual. Still, this is nothing new, and I’ve learned how to let go of plans and make myself useful in other ways from bed. But I was impatient today. I had things on the to-do list that I wanted to tackle and I couldn’t. I confront this a lot, but today it made me mad.
I’ve been trying to make some changes in my life: health-wise and beyond. I’ve been proactive about eating better and since some recent lab work detected gluten anti-bodies in my gut, I’ve cut that out. I don’t miss it that much, in fact it’s high time to go without it. Gluten free is so trendy right now! It’s just that I’ve never liked when people are picky at restaurants. And now I’m that girl, ordering the burger without the bun and asking the ingredients of sauces. Oh well.
Besides the diet, which I’m still working out, I’ve begun organizing closets and getting rid of excess anything and attempting to follow some type of schedule. It feels good. Throwing stuff out makes me actually feel lighter. All of the changes feel good, but I always seem to hit a wall and the whole thing falls apart. Like yesterday.
I cleaned out this closet in the living room, which has somehow collected my nieces baby clothes, my ex-boyfriends computer, a guitar with a missing a string, and THREE brooms, among other miscellaneous clutter. Carrying the bags of trash out and then looking at the organized masterpiece was a hole experience. Oh God, it’s just a closet. After that I went to the bookstore to check out a few recommendations from a friend. I found them and walked around a while– I just like the atmosphere there. Then I went to the grocery store for a few things that turned out to be a lot of things. My legs were burning by the time I got home and I knew I’d probably overdone it. (Wuss) But I was in my Martha Stewart zone, or something. When I began to put away groceries I noticed that the fridge could use some cleaning. I took everything out, pitched half of it, washed the drawers in the hot soapy water, wiped everything down well, then stocked it. Admittedly I sat there and opened and closed the door a few times just to relive the magic of my newly pristine fridge. I was done around 10:30 and Oh my God I am boring myself.
The truth is I didn’t do that much. But that’s just the ticket. You don’t have to do that much in order to feel this bad the next morning. It feels like you ran a marathon on a whim and at the end a bunch of people gathered around and started kicking you. Dicks. When I sat down I realized my whole body hurt and my mild migraine I had all day has turned into a full-blown one. I took some of my 25 pills, then my nighttime pills, read a little and went to sleep. I slept pretty rough, but nothing too out of the ordinary.
When I awoke the next morning to the pool guy knocking on the glass door I felt the way Gary Busey looks.
I could barely get my eyes to open fully by the time I got to the door. I’m sure I looked like a zombie in pink pajamas. All the “overdid it” symptoms were back. Achy, dizzy, heavy and the worst of them all: weakness. Because there’s nothing to do for that except wait it out. And that’s especially hard to do when looking at the list I’d optimistically made yesterday of all these tasks that needed crossing off. I had another closet to take on and there’s all these medical bills to sort. General fun time stuff. They would have to wait. Like my mom says, they’ll still be there tomorrow waiting for you.
The thing is, it’s OK. This is how the illness works and I overdid it, just as I’ve done hundreds of times before. I’ve learned plenty of ways to make the day count from the couch. I’ll rest and improve over the next few days and remember that compared to the past, this is truly small potatoes. I don’t write the details of my day to wine or seek sympathy, but because I’m still trying to figure out life with this illness and it still surprises me what a disruption it is. I only tried to plan two days! Then again, everything I wanted to do yesterday is still here today. In the rush and crash of life, I constantly confront the lesson to slow down. It reminds me of something Marc Nepo wrote:
We are so unused to emotion, that we mistake any depth of feeling for sadness, any sense of the unknown for fear, and any sense of peace for boredom
Having one well day doesn’t mean I have to attack every closet and drawer in the house. Sometimes I should just slow down and enjoy being well, without getting so quickly lost in the world of things.
As my life continues to change I am learning how to re-mold myself and adapt to new experiences with some kind of grace. I am in a new relationship which has been scary but great. I didn’t realize that meeting someone new and introducing them to my weird sick life would make me feel soo… scared. I remember thinking OK, so this is what vulnerability feels like. I’m usually a a take-it-or-leave-it kinda girl but I liked this person, and there was the possibility that me and this life and my illness would be too much for him. And that will always be a possibility. But, everyone risks rejection when you go for it. And it’s worth it because cuddling is cool and making out is fun!
Still, it’s been challenging on both ends. The illness is confusing, my life lacks structure and the circumstances just aren’t normal. In the beginning, I loved the escape I felt meeting someone new who didn’t know me as a sick person. It felt like visiting another country and knowing you can be anyone because no one knows your past. I actually thought we could keep going without having to confront the illness seriously. (Stupid) But it felt good to me, good I hadn’t felt in a while, and I went with it. Obviously that approach dissolved and at some point we both had to face the music
I’ve always known that my being sick effects a lot of other people and things besides me. Now I’m finally grasping that being the partner of someone sick can be a big challenge too. They are constantly reminded that we’re sick, but there’s not a lot they can do or say to fix it. And that can wear on anyone-our partner, mother, sister, child- as much as it wears on us to be sick. In my case, the healing doesn’t come from words. It’s more a matter of being there– listening honestly, holding, hugging, or just laying together and feeling the warmth of someone else’s humanness and yelling LIFE IS HARD BUT THAT’S OK! Sitting with the truth like that is hard, but this stupid illness never ceases to be a lesson in surrender, for everyone around it.
I think the thing to remember is that even though illness crumples up plans and stomps on dreams (haha) it really can’t take away the ethereal, elusive thing that makes each of us specifically human. We are still who we are underneath, and illness can’t touch that. In fact I believe there is a way to embrace it and become better versions of ourselves because of it. I do believe that.
Health, Happiness, and Ultra Clean Closets