My pain is somewhat predictable. I can be certain that I will end each day in more pain than I started. Beyond that, things are less sure. I may have enough energy and concentration to write, clean, and walk to the store. I may not. Perhaps I will be up to a short social outing. Perhaps not. Making plans feels like scheduling a flare up for when it will be least convenient.
I’ve pushed myself too hard and now I’m on bed rest, thanks to an Achilles tendon so inflamed even hobbling twelve steps to the bathroom feels like a journey. I’ve been to a doctor and been instructed to recline. Considering that I spend at least sixteen hours of an average day in bed, I didn’t expect this to be such a challenge.
The lack of movement, of activity, of regularly scheduled motion has worsened my depression. My anxiety is also increasing, as I can’t simply take a super fast paced walk to discharge stress and emotions. On normal days with my normal level of chronic poor health, if I feel stressed and sad and unable to write, like I do now, I can walk to the store for a sweetened coffee and rely on the exciting sugar and caffeine to bout my spirits and carry me home. Now even that small pleasure is out of reach.
When well people get envious of the chronically ill, they’re not jealous of what we really live. They’re jealous of a fantasy. A life of leisure and peace, punctuated by small pleasures. Boredom, depression, anxiety, and bed sores aren’t part of their vacation fantasy. They’re not in my fantasies either. (Though sometimes I do fantasize about being healthy enough for full time employment.)
I have a pretty good life. I like my home and I love my child. I’ve managed to shape my life around my disabilities so that employment disqualifying health factors, like an average 8-12 bathroom trips a day, are rather minor concerns. I write from bed, with my bathroom close by. Some mornings I write from my bathroom, an accommodation most workplaces would find unreasonable. I write as hard and as fast as I can for three hours.
Then I have to stop. Three hours is the most I can push myself and still have any health left for living. For walking to the store to get coffee. For playing with my cat and helping my child with his homework. For all the things I can’t do while lying in bed, like thinking. I do my best thinking when I’m moving. I may have a million disparate insights or ideas in a day, but not until I’ve walked will those thoughts organize themselves into a blog post.