Small Triumph = Big Setback

I drove downtown yesterday to my acupuncture appointment for the first time in almost six months. I have driven a bit around my neighborhood, but this was my first time on the highway and I was so proud of myself. I was going to write a very excited post about this milestone, but, once I got into the acupuncture office, I realised I had misjudged my capabilities. Not because of the concentration needed and the bright lights and moving parts, but because of the physical effort needed. My god, you have no idea what a work out it is to drive a stick shift until you spend many months not moving very much and lose muscle tone you didn’t even know you needed. Turns out there is a very big difference between pushing in the clutch for a 20 minute round trip to my therapist’s office and an hour round trip to acupuncture and then therapy. Turns out there is a very big difference between parking your car at a curb on a quiet street and trying to get into a spot in an underground car park, reversing back and forth multiple times, turning your body left and right to look behind you.

Afterwards, I was broken. On the drive home, everything was seizing up. Shoulders, neck, back, glutes. Head was hurting, throat was sore. This was something I hadn’t felt in many, many months. I took an epsom salt bath and went to bed, praying that I would be okay today. And I am. But I’m not. I’m still broken. Cement injected into every muscle. Inflamed cement muscle attached to shaky brittle bones. Tight chest, burning eyes, throbbing brain, can barely sit in my chair to type this. In short, it feels like I ran a marathon without previous training, drank a bottle of whiskey, smoked a pack of cigarettes and am coming down with a cold.

I don’t know what to do with this illness. I wouldn’t have tried to drive if I didn’t think I was up for it. I needed a small victory. Do I really just do less, less, less? Never making forward progress? Or is this not a crash, but simply sore muscles that aren’t used to working? There are people in this world that don’t have the luxury to choose to do less ~ are they worse off or better off than I am?

I will hold onto the knowledge that I was able to do it, even if it hurt me and, once I feel better, that will be a triumph.

My daily gratitude: I am grateful that when it snows in Seattle, it never sticks for long. Brrrr….



And … then later that day …

The weather is as changeable as this disease.

The weather is as changeable as this disease.


8 thoughts on “Small Triumph = Big Setback

  1. Curiosity says:

    So sorry you crashed.

    Unfortunately, in my experience, yes. The answer is that you do less, less, less. And when you begin to feel well, and energized, and whole at that level of activity, then you increase the parameters ever so slightly. And you wait. If you crash and worsen again, then you go back to the previous level of activity and try to be patient a while before trying again. If you still feel fine, then you increase ever so slightly again. Eventually you really can do lots more without paying for it. Things that used to be impossible become completely second nature and totally natural again. It just takes time.

    The tough part is that human nature does not like to move slowly. And when it feels okay, it thinks it can tackle anything! Everything! Surely just this or that thing from my previous life. Plus, it feels really strange to be getting lots of help when it feels like surely you’d be okay to do something on your own. And every time things feel well again, it’s tempting to think that means you’ve recovered. I’m still guilty of it too. But avoiding overexertion really has been the single greatest thing for my improvement and overall well-being.

    It’s a much longer road than I would have wished, but I move a lot faster along it when I don’t drive my car headlong into the guardrails quite so much. 😉


    • E. Milo says:

      When I said “less, less, less” I was actually quoting you from when you commented on my blog a while ago. It’s like you’re an angel on my shoulder telling me to do less, while there is the devil on the other shoulder telling me to run, dance, yell, drive… Thank you for your steady reminders… do less, Elizabeth. I’m just so, so tired of being careful. Too many additives, pesticides, omega 6s… Too much electricity, mental activity, reaching above my head. I mean, where does it stop?! I’m throwing a tantrum, don’t mind me.

      PS: Curiosity, can you tell me what heart rate monitor you bought? I now have bought and returned two that didn’t work properly. I was going from 40bpm to 140bpm in a matter of minutes… But I wasn’t actually, so I need something that works on a small lady who never sweats (for the sensors to work). Thank you!!


      • Curiosity says:

        Tantrum away. I have plenty of my own. Believe me, I understand. I still end up super sick all the time from doing things that in retrospect were probably mind-blowingly foolish. I’m getting slowly better at avoiding that, but I think it’s human nature to a certain degree. We’re all so damned desperate to DO STUFF.

        My order history tells me that I have a “Timex Ironman T59751 Midsize 30-Lap Digital Fitness Heart Rate Monitor Watch” (, though Amazon doesn’t seem to have it now. Maybe it’s outdated now? These are all I can find:

        I’ve been quite happy with it overall, though I can’t comment on whether the whole line is reliable or if I just happened to luck out with a good one. I’ve found the watch a little more reasonably-sized than some of the giant monstrosities out there (They offer a “midsize” version vs. huge. Though I’m not sure why it’s called “midsize,” exactly, since there doesn’t seem to be a smaller option). It’s been reliable for me. I’m fairly petite and not sweaty either (except, of course, when the weirdness hits and I am drenched for no reason at all) and it’s worked fine. I do slap a little water on my chest when I first put it on, just in case. That will last me for the rest of the day, though. And I can set it so that it beeps when I go over my threshold (I was told 105 by the exercise physiologist, though I’m not well enough to go through the testing to confirm my exact number). It shows average, min, and max HR for a time period.


  2. stacie says:

    That is the very reason I had to quit going to was making me more sick trying to go to Dr and therapy to try to get well. Now I space my appointments farther apart. I cant do more than one appointment per 2 weeks. Makes things slow but a little better. Pacing is the key to this awful illness…just to survive


    • E. Milo says:

      Truthfully, I’m just so sick of pacing. I know we all are, but I want to see forward momentum, dammit! I hope you have some help getting to and from appointments. There needs to be more in-home care … remember the days when doctors knew you your whole life and made house calls? No, I don’t either ~ that’s Downton Abbey. 🙂


  3. Hayley-Eszti says:

    You did great, even if it didn’t quite go to plan you still did it. Focus on that 🙂 x Hayley-Eszti


  4. Curiosity says:

    I wasn’t paying attention and can’t tell if my reply went through okay or not. If it turns out that my novel about Timex didn’t make it, let me know and I can just tell you succinctly that it’s a Timex instead. 🙂


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