Wednesday, October 23

normal people

This morning I arrived at the animal shelter for my volunteering in the cattery, secretly wishing I had preferenced the ‘doggery’ on my form.  I signed on at 10.45 am because I’m not good with ungodly hours of the morning (10 am), and glanced above to see the times that my volunteer colleagues would sign off for the day.

4.30 pm.

Ok. That’s fine, I thought. Don’t worry about their awesomeness.  

When I first got to the cattery I had to control the dry-wretch reflex. They say it takes eight minutes to adjust to a smell, but they didn’t test this in a cattery.  Lucky I am a pro mouth-breather, a technique my cloth nappy cleaning mum taught me long ago. Once I’d adjusted to nose blocking, I began my cleaning tasks and made sure to frequently pass the quarters housing a mama cat with her day old offspring. I might have passed it ten times because as you know from my last post, oggling baby furries is very therapeutic. It was squeal worthy, the way they were suckling their mum.

So, I was happily working away feeling ‘normal’, as in, not in pain or feeling deathly fatigued.  I loved that I was pain free as I worked; it made me feel all quivery with hope.  Maybe this will be so manageable that I will barely feel the effects afterwards? I thought. After what felt like a very long time, my supervisor was going to have her tea break. I called it ‘a day’ and returned to the sign off sheet.

I wrote: 12.00pm

As I drove home I just thought, ‘How?! How on earth can someone go back to work after their tea break? Is that even humanly possible?’

Instead of feeling joy that I’d managed to do a solid hour and a quarter of work, I felt total deflation. How can it be that these people are so mind bogglingly robust? How can it be that my body is so screwed up that even my ‘I’m recovering’ strength is a weak shadow of normal people?

When I got home, I sat on the couch. I kept sitting there for hours, feeling physically pummelled. 

Of course, the proper response would be:  But, it’s wonderful that you did an hour! Don’t compare yourself to others, but be glad that you have improved so much that you can manage to do that much.

And I would say: Yes, I know. That is the perfect answer. That is so true.

But.  Proper feelings aside, I am confronted by the reality of life outside my lounge. I had lost track of the lives around me. I am like an elderly person who plods through their quiet life yet considers it hectic.
Outside my sheltered existence, people are working all day long, five days a week. They are even looking after their homes, exercising and socialising {ie. my entire existence} in their spare time.

I know. It’s beyond.

I now realise why this was my mantra in my first year of illness:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Tuesday, October 15

an impractical plan to avoid death

If you read my blog regularly you will know that I only really cover two topics:

-         -    being sick
-         -    being sick of moving house

And so this post will cover these themes in detail, because I’m sick and we’re moving house again and I’m sick of moving house and moving house makes me sick.

The realestate agent told us last week that we have to vacate, and to say that I took the news well would be untrue. I was a neurotic psychotic mess, crying with despair one minute and laughing uncontrollably the next. I said to Ben that this is what I will be like when I am pregnant, for nine whole months. It was dark, but I think he looked frightened.

Last time I felt like I was going to die. I know that sounds melodramatic, but illness is a common pre-death state and one never knows if one’s lifeless body will revive. As we packed our dirty mop and dirty dog into the car ready for the four hour drive to our new home I started to get stabbing pains in my head. They were ‘is-this-an-aneurism?’ pains, and we wondered if this was a hospital emergency. Mercifully they didn’t persist for as many months as the severe malaise, and I didn’t die.

Moving house and chronic illness are a toxic combination. This particular life event has a 100% record for undoing my health progress significantly. Three doses of this in one calendar year is not recommended.

Two moves ago, Ben had this great impractical plan to send me away while he moved house. I rejected this idea instantly, on two grounds.

  1. He needed me.
  2. I didn’t want others to have to help us if I wasn’t pulling my weight.
One move ago, Ben suggested his impractical plan again. I rejected it because he needed me as we were living in a remote town with few friends.

This time, Ben suggested his plan again and I have gratefully agreed to it.

I am either getting less conscientious, less proud, or more fearful of relapse. After psychoanalysing myself, I feel it’s a muddy mixture of all three.

It’s a bit of a social norm and pride issue, the whole being- there-to-move-your-own-house thing. I used to think it was an outrageous idea to ask other people to move house for me when I was ‘perfectly’ capable. All of next month’s adrenalin wildly gushes to my aid on moving day enabling me to fool even myself of my suitability for the job. But once I have collapsed into bed it is difficult to depart it anytime soon.

I still have to hunt, inspect, apply, pack, and clean beforehand, but my body seems more approving of quiet regular efforts than short sharp ejaculations.

At this point I am no longer hysterical, which is a relief for my small family. Wolfie kept stealing wet tissues and eating them, and he would have become constipated had my anguish persisted. I feel what I think is peace and acceptance, but it could be numbness. I have just discovered that looking at deathly cute baby animals has great emotional benefits, and I feel quite a connection to this kitten.  


Thursday, October 3

define patience.

I don’t even know what patience is.

Is it endurance? Because endurance sounds like being stuck in the mud, but choosing not to kill yourself. It’s grit-your-teeth and get through. Perseverance feels a little more determined than endurance to me. I think it has an end in sight. Patience sounds angelic, peaceful.   

I have endured 5 years. Maybe I’ve even persevered because I’ve always believed there is a purpose to suffering, however invisible.  But I don’t think that just getting to the end of one day and then repeating counts as patience.  

the dictionary definition confirms my suspicions.

Pa – tient
 Bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance with calmness.

 With calmness. 

The word used for ‘enduring pain with calmness’, and ‘person under medical care’ is the same. But I am the latter, not the former.

I have half hour stints of illumination where I see eternity stretching out and grasp how these moments now are just a breath. I feel calm, at peace with waiting.

And then I have weeks of terror as I picture myself still homebound, still limited in five years time and how I can barely face the continuance of life in this dysfunctional body. I choose again to only take today, but one second later I’m wondering about the future. Then I remember that patience is the key, but I don’t even know what patience is because I’m not sure I’ve ever felt it. Or maybe it’s not a feeling, it’s an action.

Maybe patience is deciding not to commit suicide, deciding not to cling to old plans and dreams, trusting that each day you will be carried through and can rest in God’s unfathomable, unsearchable ways.

My ramblings may sound depressed. But I’m feeling neither depressed nor anxious. These are just my muddy thoughts, the ones that hang in my house while other people are occupied with work or studies. I have hours to wander through them. 

Many people in unwell bodies seek counselling, because the thoughts which were swiftly stifled by fast paced life unravel. It’s not hard to avoid silence because we can put our ipods in, re-read the updates in our newsfeed, find a book, blog, beverage. We pass the time by incessant stimulation so we can avoid truth. But the truth is that I need to wait.