Somewhere in mid-April I packed a whole lot of activity into a week. It was bookended by that weekend where she ordered shelving and built herself a nice closet. I was in constant motion during the daytime from Tuesday through Sunday of that week. It took me that much movement and that long to crash. How did I have that much movement in me at that point in time, and I don’t now?
1. It was rainy in April. It rained constantly. There’s probably more allergens floating around out there now. Much more pollen. You can see the pollen on the car. I have asthma in the mix now.
2. Soul power and a positive shade of ignorance. I had absolutely no idea about Post Exertion Malaise. I would only find out about that after the crash. I learned from an online reddit board. My thinking directed my actions. My thinking at the time was, “I’m going to get my life back! Hell yes! Whoo I’m going to start exercising again“. There were hints throughout the week that this wasn’t going to work, but I ignored them.
One day I did 2 walks instead of 1 around the neighborhood and that night I came on here and wrote, “You know… I think it’s going to be one walk a day. I am awfully exhausted right now.” I had not yet reached a point of total non-functionality. So, I kept doing those walks once a day and constantly doing chores. Again, I had no idea about PEM so I kept moving as much as I could outside of that one walk a day. During the weekend there was a great deal of running back and forth to the hardware store with her. That Sunday night I started wheezing hardcore for the first time in a while. I was standing in Lowe’s trying to hide the wheezing and coughing fit. I then excused myself and ran out to the car to use my inhaler. It was too late. I coughed so hard I puked. Not fun.
Stubborn and still ignorant, I kept moving constantly the next day. Wrote about this in an earlier on my blog. Cooking, cleaning, moving moving moving like most relatively young and normal healthy humans do.
But. Around 7 p.m. that Monday night I crashed. Brain fog took over. I looked at her and asked, “What did we do this past Saturday?” I could not remember the thing cats do when they’re hyper. “You know, that thing they do. What’s it called?” It’s called “zoomies.” She was watching TV and I came out to chat for a bit but I was so foggy headed and could barely sit up that I retired for bed around 8 and got on the reddit boards. I needed dark, I could not sit up. I tried to journal and I could barely think. I rarely experience brain fog, but this was undoubtedly brain fog. The level of exhaustion was not workable. It was like I suddenly had flu. Then I got on the subreddit and I saw an acronym frequently referenced: “PEM”. I looked it up. What I was experiencing matched to a T. This began a period of grief. One I’m still not entirely over. But I have instinctively learned to do the pacing thing. You fuckin’ rest when your body says to rest. You don’t try to be the way you were in the before times, unless you want to experience a crash and be non-functional for a night. I was probably wiped the next day too.
Getting back to the point of this particular number in the series, however, I want to focus on the good part of this. Soul Power. Look at how far it carried me. Tuesday thorough Sunday. It took 6 DAYS for me to fully crash. Of constant movement. It was my attitude. It was my physical health in comparison to some others in this boat. It was 2 meetings a day. It was 15 days of zero poison. It was gratitude. I had a positive attitude and I was soaking up the good spiritual messages from 2 meetings a day. I was forward thinking. When I’m open, I connect to what they are saying. When I close up like a spider, it all sounds like bullshit and things get ugly with my thinking real fast.
Once I learned about PEM, I couldn’t un-learn that knowledge, and I started to grieve and limit movement. It’s confusing because I needed to learn so I could comply with the rule. The rule is simple – learn your limitations and don’t overdo things. But what if there’s a middle ground? Observe the rule but re-embrace soul power. That’s where my thinking is at now. There’s a third aspect to this:
3. I hadn’t started the anti-depressant yet. This time around it causes the same tale-tell sedation it always has, but now that old layer of day time sedation worsens depression. This is new. It’s the two health conditions interacting with the drug, in my opinion.
But oh well. I’m sticking with it because I’ve got to see if it’s going to help offset the mental problems that come from hormones in a couple weeks. or sooner. 18 more days. If it doesn’t work, I try something else. I can’t go it alone and I can’t avoid medical and therapy staff. I came to terms with the need to be monitored on several fronts, health wise. I used to avoid doctors like the plague and I could not get movitated to get back on this drug and see it through. Until I reached a point where I had nothing to lose.
Blogging may be excessive for a while, especially if I wake up criminally early like this. It’s one of the tools.
I woke up and there was immediate resistance to what I’m supposed to do. I had to work toward submitting to it. I laid it all out in the last post. Arguments about the archaic language. Mental gymnastics are necessary. Ultimately, I compared it to the Jody Whitely credo, and how they are similar. I started by reducing it down to the simple directive of compassion and kindness. So I sat there in meditation or what some of these folks call prayer.
It told me to go outside. There’s an It behind the her of the imagination that I’ve always known. I thought the she… inside of all this… was it, but this morning it felt like the goddess is more of an angel type figure, and she has an it behind her. It said to go outside. So I went outside. It was like, “you who like the outdoors so much. Go be in it.” So I did that.
I stood outside surveying the beauty of the morning. Birds, sun rising. I looked at her beautiful lawn work. Freshly mowed. For a moment I then veered into sadness again. Thinking about B she does more than I do now. She is lately more active than I’ve ever seen her. Being envious. Worrying that she judges me. Forcing myself to trust that she does not judge me. She may understand better now. She sees the inhalers. She must know I wouldn’t lie about this. As active as I used to be. As much as I used to glory in hiking. A few weeks back I tried explaining the PEM thing and she wasn’t fully getting it at that point in time, kind of saying to me well we’re older now. I responded that this thing happening to me isn’t just natural aging. But I trust that things are a little different now. Anyway I do what I can. This morning I’ll be washing her car. I can do activities like that in the morning. I’ve thought of going for a hike some time soon and just dealing with the blowback. Sometimes I can get away with it. Hey, I got away with it for 6 days. As long as the hike is the only thing I do, I may get away with it. And as long as there is not too much elevation. LBA park nearby is about perfect.
Anyway I’m getting off topic at this point. I am conflicted because the text says to avoid self pity. I view it as a good thing that I can cry now, and I think a therapist would agree. Is there an element of danger in handing this off to folks not professionally trained? Or is it possible that the “professionally trained” folks are no better in the run… we’re all human…and they get to hide behind a long period of focused study and credentials?
I guess one could say that being vulnerable and learning to cry isn’t really the same as self pity, there’s a difference in tone there. Self-pity is closely tied to resentment and that’s something I need to get away from. It’ll take time.
I started the process yesterday by letting go. I told B that if I got a cancer diagnosis tomorrow, I would hardly be concerned by some of her recent choices…. and my mission would just be to love her until my time is up. That kind of thinking is how I started my day. And that kind of thinking is what ultimately lead me to open up my face in a meeting, awkward as it was, and actually do the thing I’ve needed to do for over a month.
So I did my morning thing. It was hard at first but the thing about going outside and being kind was good. It’s already 8 a.m. so I better get off here and plan my day. I think the general point, winding and twisty though this post has been, is to re-embrace soul power within limitations. I can’t unlearn what I’ve learned but I can keep having gratitude about the things that matter. There will be moments of depression again but I’m teaching myself to reach out instead of wallow in it. And people don’t have to understand every little thing about my physicality now either. People not understanding was a resentment and a hangup before, but it cannot continue to be. Nothing good comes from mental isolation. There’s also support groups and shit. Hell, reddit can be looked at as a support board.