A Little Bigger World

In a world where everyone’s going at high speed, there’s nothing like being put down by illness. The world suddenly becomes very small. When MS decides to flare, it’s the boss. It becomes a trial of my patience and the challenge of accepting I’m not in charge. Though diagnosed over thirty years ago, this flare was like being back at the beginning.

I thought I knew what to do and what it would take to get better. I wrote off the month of July. Stuck in my apartment, most days I spoke to no one. Saw no one. A big accomplishment was to check my e-mail and make lunch. Otherwise, resting and watching for small improvements.

I’d look at the calendar just to remind myself what day it was and think how was this day compared to yesterday. Were the symptoms lessoning. Did I have more energy. Would  my life ever get back to normal. What if I didn’t get better. I watched out my window, with envy, as the cheers from the soccer games in the park across the street rise to a frenzy. That’s what happens; the world passes you by.

Too much time to think. In fact, that’s all there is. Time to think. I know how everyone dreams of down time and being able to kick back, read a book or take naps and putter. But when it’s all you can do, that put a whole different spin on it.  Time becomes a curse. I read several books and watched TV constantly. And while the latest political shenanigans were entertaining, sort of like a national soap opera, even that lost its allure after a while.

Each morning started out the same. Check symptoms. Decide what I’m able to do. That fine line was always there. Stay active but don’t overdo, say all the well-meaning health care professionals. No one was sure what that meant. Especially since each case was different.   What’s overdoing for me would be okay for someone else.

I felt so mentally healthy the first day I was able to walk down to the lobby and get my mail. Then I did mail and also the laundry. Yippee! Then I added walking down to the garden and sitting for a while, reading in my Adirondack chair. I tried to add some small thing each day. But not too much lest I overdo.

A truly great day was when I could stand long enough to take a shower. Then stand long enough to use the blow drier. Even greater, the first day I drove my car three blocks to the pharmacy. I’d first checked out my perception of the brake and the gas pedal.

These small things became huge accomplishments.  Then because it felt so good and I felt so masterful, I overdid myself. Back to square one or two. So, I put a sign on my door in very big letters. DON’T OVER-DO! I hope this helps.

I’ve also written off the month of August. Remission is so slow, I’m finally being realistic. I’ll be checking symptoms and pacing myself for a long time. But today I’m happy with the small things I can accomplish and pleased that my small world gets bigger each day.

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