Another Day In The Life

This illness takes away every bit of independence and control. My day today was ludicrous and stressful. In my mind, it is filmed in high-speed to the Benny Hill Show music.

I made three back-to-back appointments (ophthalmologist, therapy and blood draw), which is obviously foolhardy, but, if my husband is going to come home to ferry me around, I want to maximise the time. However, I didn’t want the day to be longer than it needed to be because it takes such a toll on me, so I tried to schedule the appointments as close together as possible. The ophthalmologist’s office assured me 3 separate times (because I rescheduled 3 times and asked each time) that a 2:20pm appointment would have me out by 3pm because the doctor is exceedingly timely and expeditious. I google mapped the distances between clinics and called LabCorp to ask about parking and the name of the building and what floor they were on so I was completely prepared and wouldn’t be wasting time wandering.

But, first on the schedule this morning, our cleaning lady (a luxury we obviously can’t afford, but we decided we needed once in a while to alleviate the burden on my husband) was meant to arrive at 9am. That’s very early for me, so I had scheduled the day yesterday to do nothing but organise the house in short bursts (because you actually have to tidy the house for the cleaning lady): putting away clothes and paperwork, moving blankets, yoga mats and dog beds etc. with rests in between. It takes an extraordinary amount of energy for me to do this, mainly because it involves walking things from one room to the next and up and down stairs.

Our cleaning lady is scared of the dogs, so I locked them in my bedroom with me this morning and listened to them whine to get out for an hour and a half before I texted her. I got no answer until noon, when she said she would be here at 1:30pm. She wasn’t. And my husband wasn’t home by 2 to take me to my appointments, so I stood by the door, having eaten, showered, dressed and meditated, holding my handbag, unsure of what to do. He arrived shortly after, not too late, just late enough that I was anxious. We got the dogs’ leashes on (because we had to take them with us because we couldn’t leave them home with the cleaning lady) and I hid the key for her so she could get in while we were gone.

We drove like a bat out of hell, but traffic was worse than normal. Not terrible, just bad enough to make me anxious. I got there on time, but I was still sitting in the waiting room 35 minutes later, so I had to reschedule. They said I could come back after therapy at 4pm, but the blood draw was at 4:15, so I had to reschedule that, too– to 5pm, their latest slot.

On the short drive to the therapist’s office, I was starving, as usual, so I quickly ate an apple and a bunch of plantain chips. Then I had to stand in line at reception for a full 10 minutes (exhausting) and then sat in the waiting room for another 10 minutes, wishing I had taken my time eating rather than inhaling without chewing. By the time my therapist came to get me, it was 3:15pm — not too late, just late enough to make me anxious about the appointment going over time and thus causing me to be late for my rescheduled ophthalmology visit.

I was close to tears from watching the time tick by, the stress of the day, rushing around, not being able to drive myself, being let down by cleaning lady, husband, receptionist, late doctor #1 and #2, having to schedule these appointments in the first place, having to schedule them close together because I can’t handle long outings, having to reschedule 2 out of 3 of them, trusting the ophthalmologist clinic that said 40 minutes would be enough time when I know better… so, I spent 3/4 of my therapy session ranting about the day and how frustrating it is to have no independence… and then ranting about how the day’s events were impinging on my precious therapy time! I have shrinking to do, dammit.

Of course, therapy ran late, so we drove like a bat out of hell again to the ophthalmologist, got there at 4:10 aaannnd… at 4:50pm, I was still waiting in the waiting room. Of course. So I had to call the lab and completely cancel the blood draw. What a farce!

The good news is, the different pressures in my eyes seem to have resolved, so I’m no longer considered a glaucoma suspect. The doctor wants me to try Restasis for the next 6+ months, plus steroid eye drops to address the ongoing dry eye/blepharitis/lid muscle spasms/styes/grittiness/goopiness/floaters/blury vision. Yay, more prescriptions and protocols!

Through all of this, my long-suffering husband and dogs waited in the car, but, the other good news is, he took them to the park while I was in therapy and we got to come home to a beautiful, clean home.

And then I got to do this:

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Aaaahhhhh…. take me away…. 🙂

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Girl, Interrupted

Last Sunday, my husband woke up, gave both dogs baths, hoovered the downstairs of the house, tidied the kitchen, emptied the dishwasher, took the dogs to the park, went to the grocery store, came home and hoovered the upstairs of the house, emptied all the garbage bins, put the cover on the duvet and made the bed look nice and inviting, washed and replaced the unwieldy dog bed covers, scooped the dog poop in the yard, cooked dinner and also cooked soup for me to eat for lunch the next day, took out the rubbish and recycling, loaded the dishwasher and I’m sure there are many things I didn’t notice him do… I washed my cpap parts, soaked in an epsom salt bath for 15 minutes and did a few minutes of gentle stretches. That was the extent of my activity. Other than that, I sat or lay in different rooms of the house.

I spend an inordinate amount of time lying down in dark rooms. Meditating, resting, sleeping, trying to sleep, reading, thinking, crying. Somewhere along the line, I lost the ability to walk laps around my house, so I haven’t been outside in weeks ~ except to walk to the car for doctors’ appointments. I long to be outside. I want to breathe in great gasps of cool outdoor air. I want to feel my heart pumping and my muscles contracting. I want to see my dogs run and be able to dance along with them and not be crippled physically or crippled by the fear of movement. I imagine my brain functions like any other negative reinforcement situation. If you are bit badly by a dog, you may avoid dogs and be seized by fear when you see one. When I move a lot, talk a lot, cry a lot, react to a pill I take or don’t sleep well, I am overcome with foreboding about the backwards tumble that lies ahead. It extends to smaller things, too. I forgot my sunglasses yesterday for the drive to the doctor and I wondered if the light would take its toll on me, not only in the moment, but today. I had to move quickly to catch the phone when my Mother called the other day and I became annoyed that I hadn’t stopped myself… and then became afraid that the 3 seconds of faster movement and the 3 minutes of annoyance would worsen my symptoms. I’m trying to do less so I don’t continue to slip backwards, but not do less so I don’t decondition anymore in my body and mind. It’s a hard line to walk.

Last month, we were watching The Walking Dead (spoiler alert: if you are watching but aren’t caught up). There is a scene where the father runs across a large field carrying his dying son who is a not-so-small 9 or 10 year-old. I can’t stop thinking about that scene. Not because the kid got shot – (spoiler alert) I knew he’d survive – but because sometimes we will have to exert energy. There WILL be trauma in our lives and, somehow, we will have to weather it. I watched that scene, thinking, I would give anything in the world to know that I could run flat-out across a field, carrying a child and that I would be okay. That I wouldn’t then be confined to my bed for the next decade. I would give anything to know that I could handle an emergency and emotional upheaval without regressing into worse shape for who knows how long. At the bare minimum, I would give anything to simply be able to run across a field, minus the bleeding child and the chasing zombies.

Yesterday I was watching The Bachelor (spoiler alert: in case you thought I was remotely cool) and the contestants were canoeing and riding horses. This was rough to watch. In my youth, I used to do both of these activities a lot. I loved them and felt confident in my skills (at least with canoeing. I made a number of trips through the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota, isolated, carrying food bags, portaging from lake to lake. E and I took a trip together when we were, what? 16? That was ballsy. I don’t know if I would let my child disappear into the wilderness and hope that she and her friend would appear on a different lake a week later. But it was amazing and, now more than ever, I am so grateful for those memories). I watched those Bachelor contestants sit passively on top of the dozy, plodding ponies and then paddle over and over again into the shrubbery on either side of the river and I wanted to scream, AAaahhh! Give me that fucking paddle! Let me sit in the back of the canoe and steer for the next 5 hours, loving the ache in my shoulder, the strength of my biceps, the pull in my triceps… the sound of the canoe cutting through water and peace of surrounding nature. Let me sit on that horse! I can smell his coat and the saddle leather. I can feel the power beneath me and I just want to tap him with my heels and hold myself up with strong thighs and reliable calves, lean forward with no back pain and gallop. Or, at least, canter. The best feeling.

horse riding

Television and books ~ even watching my husband doing chores ~ are constant reminders of the things I can’t do and cause an endless roller coaster of emotions. Desire, jealousy, despair… and then gratitude for what I still have. I got up today after another bad night with no sleep and texted my friends that I felt like a walking corpse. The Walking Dead. But I don’t really walk much. And, I’m not dead, dammit. So, maybe my life right now is a bit Requiem For A Dream or Vertigo or Groundhog Day… But, maybe one day it’ll be Run Lola Run or Dances With Wolves… Or, simply, wonderfully Staying Alive.

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