It has been a very busy week for me and I’m grateful I was able to do everything I did, but… now I’m going through the crash and burn phase — what I call my payback days. Living with multiple chronic illnesses is no picnic. It’s very discouraging to look around the house and see everything that needs doing but only being able to do the minimum to keep up. I try hard not to think back on how much I used to be able to do, seemingly simple things like cleaning my whole house in one morning.
Those days are long gone.
Now I can only do one thing, such as dusting one room, and then have to stop and rest for awhile before doing anything else. And quite often, dusting that one room is the only task I am able to accomplish that day.
Take something as enjoyable as having company. Rick and I have friends over for coffee on Thursday mornings, and I love my time with these close friends whom we call “family.” But when everyone leaves, I suddenly realize I am wiped out! If the migraine I woke up with hasn’t completely left me, then it feels horrible by that point because of all the talking and laughing during that sweet fellowship. I wonder if that’s what the phrase “hurts so good” means — well, maybe not.
To this “get it all done now” turned “maybe tomorrow” person, it has been a slow process. From denial to frustration to understanding and finally to acceptance, this journey has not been easy. However, I’ve learned some things that work for me:
- Accept what you can do and don’t worry about the rest — it will eventually get done.
- Make yourself rest often, even if you don’t think you need it at the time. If you’re like me, your mind wants you to keep on going (like that Energizer bunny) even when your body tells you to stop.
- Enlist help from your spouse and children for tasks that are too difficult or time-consuming for your energy levels.
- Find things to do that you enjoy but won’t add to your pain burden. I can still write, something that fills me with joy, but I’ve learned I have to pace myself because I could easily go on for hours! I have also discovered how much I enjoy crocheting, especially for others. This keeps me busy, makes me feel productive, and moves the focus from me and my pain to whomever I’m crocheting for at the time. And I have always loved to read and lose myself in a good book.
- Be thankful for what you are still able to do, even if it is something as simple as making coffee.
Every so often when I do get out with Rick for coffee or a meal out or to get together with friends, someone will ask how I’m doing that day. My response? “I’m here!” I think that short and sweet statement says it all.