Oh how cruel it is that when you really need to write, you can’t. I’ve been so very sick. Apologies to my friends and family for my neglect of correspondence and birthdays (everyone is born in April). Apologies to my husband for having to pick up even more slack while wading through thicker clouds of my fear. Apologies to my dogs who are not only getting no exercise, but who have been rejecting the recently beautiful spring days to lie indoors in the dark next to their ailing Momma. Yesterday, I took a blanket and pillow outside and lay on a dog bed in the garden so we could all get some fresh air. They danced excitedly about thinking I might actually be trying to walk my daily laps again (long ago they gave up their hopes that I might take them to an actual park ~ my putting on shoes now means I’m leaving them to go to a doctor appointment and they hardly raise an eyebrow) and then sulked with heads low when they saw I was inert, as usual.
I think I am worse overall than I have ever been. This is definitely the longest stretch of BAD I’ve ever had. By “sick” and by “bad” I mean unable to do even the little things and needing to stay in bed most of the time. I have been so dizzy and so shaky. I’m chilled, I’m exhausted, my muscles have retracted into hard, fibrous knots. I have the ever-present headache and sore throat and noise sensitivity. My sleep is dismal; I feel utterly tortured by the loss of quality repair time at night. My bed is a battleground: the covers too weighty, the mattress too hot, the pillow to low, the air too cold. I am at once completely unconscious and aware of my surroundings. I am so tired and groggy, but, while I’m dreaming, I am well aware that I am in my room having a dream and that it would be much better to be deeper asleep. But the worst thing about this last week is it has literally felt as if I may not have enough ATP to fuel my lungs, my heart, my brain. There is a point, whether I’m right or wrong, where it feels very obviously like my mitochondria don’t work ~ it is physical, as if I can feel the millions of engines in my organs sputtering and stalling. I’m giving gas, but they just wheeze and die. It feels like, if I read, I then may not be able to speak. Or, if I expend the energy to sit up, I may not be able to breathe. And suddenly the headache and the pain and the stiffness ~ none of it is important because, even if my heart keeps beating, my brain may just flatline.
Yesterday, I did something I’ve never done: I prayed out loud for help. I prayed for this to be taken away. I prayed to go back to where I was when I thought it was bad a year ago or for help for my husband or for us to win the lotto so we could stop this speeding train towards homelessness and poverty. You think I’m being melodramatic? I’m not. I don’t even know how to muster the energy to apply for disability or talk to the bank about our mortgage. A long phone call with the health insurance company (they show termination of coverage at the beginning of January for some reason) yesterday sent me to bed for 3 hours to “recover”. Contrary to how it may seem (I am acutely aware that I rarely gloss over the mental anguish caused by this disease), I really did think I would get better. I thought I would look back on this rough patch as a period of growth ~ a rototilling of the deep grooves and scar tissue of habitual thought and thoughtless action. I would be receptive and do the work and then this coffin-like chrysalis would metamorphose into a new stress-free career and I would feel blessed for my period of attrition. I am now worried that I may not ever work again and, one day soon, our savings will simply be gone.
The good news is, when I was able to get out of bed on Sunday and go about my (abbreviated) routine, I felt a flush of triumph like never before: I came through it. I am (carefully, slowly) walking and talking. You can’t take me down for long. I will rise. I will return.