Status: Flattened, with feet up. It’s the only way I can write, with the few still-functional fingers, when my hands, arms, shoulders, and back are racetracks for searing, electro-shock variety pain. After etching grooves deep in my bones, the pain creates a fatigue swamp, literally knocking me out for a few hours. By Day 5, staying conscious is an accomplishment. I spent Days 1 and 2 waking up from that haze wondering what the heck time it is and when I passed out.
Looks like I overdid it. Or maybe it was all due to fall apart right about now. I’m not sure. Navigating that balance between doing what you “can” but not taking on too much is like blindfolding yourself, spinning in circles, then trying to unlock the master lock of a door with ten identical knobs. With a toothpick. It’s a crapshoot. There are no reliable signals to follow.
Add to that, moderation was always a special sort of hell for me.
I want to do more. I know I shouldn’t actually do it but I always want to do more and usually telling me “you can’t” is like pitching a lit match into a hay bale and saying don’t burn. Before my pain became chronic, pushing myself was a treat.
When I walk a quarter of a mile, I want that next quarter. If I run a half, I want another half. That was how I worked up to my first mile under 8 minutes, was how I competed in my chosen sports, was how I fought my way up, professionally. I still remember learning about building stamina from my first great P.E. teacher. Youth was on my side back then too, but the regimen was sound. Performing exercise to failure (also known as: until you can no longer maintain perfect form) was the first of many steps to building strength and endurance.
“No pain, no gain” was my actual motto. Fool.
My body doesn’t respond to that tearing down of muscles the same way anymore. It doesn’t work normally anymore. It stopped being normal half a lifetime ago.
I was never a quick study, though heaven help me, I’m some kind of stubborn. At first, the trade-off for pushing through, even if only by 15 or 20 minutes, was “only” days of crippling pain. Later on, crushing fatigue joined the party. An afternoon running errands cost two days of bed rest. A couple hours of exercise cost a week of mobility. Three weeks, once, when I was particularly boneheaded. If -no, when- I challenge myself, push myself just another eighth of a mile, just another five minutes, “just another” crashes down around my ears. It becomes a choice to sacrifice all other life activities like feeding myself or bathing. It should have been obvious, but it still took more than a decade before I accepted it.
Having accepted that fact, now, it’s a whole other struggle.
It’s battling my own instincts to get up and get out because to do otherwise is lazy except that to do so is to hamstring myself because I’m down to my last Energon Cube. It’s trying to parse the muddled and confusing signals correctly so that I don’t cross the line, but “stay active!” How do you tell when enough is enough if sometimes you’re feeling as close to fine as I get, don’t feel like you’re overexerting, but only crash the moment you stop moving? What do I go on, if I can’t trust how I feel?
To make things even more confusing, once every several months or so, for a couple hours it’s like the sun is shining on me. I have energy and only medium pain, the fatigue has backed off and I’m like unto a Tiny God of Getting Shit Done. For those brief magical hours, anything seems possible. That’s not today’s problem though.
As usual, I’m not the only one who’s had a rough few days. Abby has, as have a few other friends. I call a do-over on a crappy wasted weekend!