Part of the work of the next few months is a re-setting of my mind because of the re-setting that has happened in my body. For most of my adult life I have gone until I can’t go ‘no more’. Then I collapse, and get up the next day and start over. That isn’t going to work any more.
My experience with my new body (I will refrain from speaking for all people with autoimmune disease) is that I have to be preventative. I eat certain foods so that I won’t have a flare. I take certain vitamins and supplements so that my body will respond better to stress. I do Pilates to help my body maintain flexibility. I rest midday so that I can go out for dinner later. I have to anticipate the effects of my actions on my body.
But I get amnesia.
I had a pretty lousy flare in April/May. This isn’t too surprising since I was preparing for a move, finishing a school year, anticipating one daughter’s high school graduation and the other daughter’s college graduation, saying goodbye to many friends, etc. Stressors incite flares. Life, even ordinary life, is stressful. April and May were a bit over the top.
June and July were lovely. I was at home, on my own pace, packing a box or two a day, resting at various times throughout the day, eating well, exercising well, reading, doing puzzles, and seeing friends.
So I forgot what happens when I do too much.
I think I wanted to believe that it wouldn’t happen again. I mean, we were in the physical process of moving for about ten days and I felt fine. When I got tired, I took a little break. On the actual move day, I had to take a few more breaks than usual, but still, no flare.
Ten days in Ann Arbor, unpacking, socializing, running errands, taking breaks, exercising, and I was feeling just fine. In fact, so fine, that I felt like the old me!
So, on Wednesday, when I went out for my walk with Chester, I actually ran a bit. I haven’t run in quite a while. And it felt great. I was cautious. But, I ran.
Then on Thursday, I woke up, wrote my blog, drank my tea, and then pretended I was the old me for about two hours — cleaned and vacuumed out the car, washed three windows inside and out, vacuumed our little house front to back, and Swiffered the kitchen and dining room.
And then it happened.
It wasn’t like my batteries wore down or something. It was like someone unplugged me. I hit the bed and knew I had gone too far. It wasn’t even noon.
We had a guest arriving at 1. My husband wanted me to meet some staff members at 4:30. And a new friend was coming in the evening to learn the ropes of Chester-sitting so that we can go on a trip this weekend.
Yes, you read that right. We are going on a trip this weekend. Our oldest is getting his MBA tomorrow in Cincinnati and we are moving our daughter from Chicago to Ann Arbor on Sunday.
And I’m unplugged.
When I woke this morning, I discovered that my reserve battery had charged a little in my sleep, so I tidied the guest room for the overnight guest who is coming on Sunday. (Are you hearing all this?) And re-made the bed for our friend who is staying with Chester.
I’m not getting it, am I?
Do I really need another smack-down in order to learn how to pace myself and take breaks? Why is it that doing is so satisfying to me? Why am I not content with being?
I believe I have received grace this morning, because I don’t feel as poorly as I did last evening. So, I am going to slow down, acknowledge that God is God and I am not. Do a little Pilates. Breathe. Put my feet up. Read. Drink my kale-berry-banana-flax smoothie. And try, really try, to be still.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10.
*Spears, Brittney. “Oops!… I Did It Again.” Oops!…I Did It Again. Jive, 2000.
(This citation is for my former students who know that you have to give credit where credit is due.)