Waiting is something I do impatiently. Really impatiently! Ever since my colonoscopy about a week ago I’ve been waiting for my body to recover. Well, OK, I’ve also been prodding and cajoling and testing my body to see if it’s recovered yet. Problem is, all the prodding, cajoling and testing just seems to make my body less recovered and me more impatient. All of which has been a recipe for the “disaster” of the past couple of days, when I’ve been feeling decades older than I should and rather more frustrated and depressed than impatient.
So this morning I decided to break the vicious cycle and stay home and do nothing. The problem is, I don’t do “nothing” very well, especially when I’m at home surrounded by a billion things that need cleaned, fixed, dusted, tidied, or paid attention too. By nature I’m a doer, I just don’t manage well doing nothing. But what I need to remember is that healing and resting are not the same a doing “nothing”. They are, in fact, important things that need doing. Just ones that I don’t do particularly well. Case in point, even while I kept telling myself I should do nothing today, I still dusted those bookshelves in the kitchen that had gotten totally gross from neglect.
But herein lies the problem. I’ve got a body that, due to chronic illness and various special needs (like regular cancer screening), and that needs to be rested and healed far more than I seem to be mentally ready to accept. Thus that challenge for me is to find ways to keep my brain satisfied with a modicum of activity while giving my body time off here and there to heal and recover. Writing, such as I’m doing now is one outlet, but not a perfect one because it still takes a certain amount of physical energy (along with bad posture since I haven’t figured out a way to do this lying down). Watching movies or bad TV are other ways, but I usually lose interest pretty quickly.
One book I’ve been reading, The Pain Survival Guide, talks a lot about pacing. It stresses the importance of balancing work and rest, of breaking activities into short segments interspersed with rest and so forth. Sometimes I get it. Sometimes I don’t, as in last Saturday, the first day I felt really energetic since my procedure, so I did as much as I could, probably dooming me to a day of exhaustion and pain on Sunday. (The sudden change in the weather probably didn’t help much either on Sunday.)
Coping with chronic illness (psoriatic arthritis and migraines in my case) result in a constant struggle between wants and needs. I want to do so much, I need to rest more. I want my pain, exhaustion and fatigue to go away. I need to be patient. I want to control the circumstances of my disease. I need to let go. Falling into bad habits, ruts, patterns of behavior that exacerbate the struggle is easy to do. Finding ways out much harder. But I’m still trying.