Yesterday I mentioned wondering if I was really as clear as I think I am, mentally, now that I’m aware that I had this mental fog that has lifted. Then I went back to bed, because I felt like a pile o’ crap.
I spent most of the rest of the day in bed. I was able to work from home, which only required checking my emails every few hours, since work is slow this week. So I mostly laid in bed and had body aches and tried to distract myself with TED talks and other videos, because despite the body pain, my mind continued to feel clear and alert in ways that it hasn’t in a long time.
I kept marveling and wondering about that clarity and what I wrote yesterday. Mainly, I mused over how how much mental fog has really lifted. Where I am really? What if I only feel really mentally clear because I’ve been increasingly badly fogged over the past few months?
Does that make sense? If 100 is “totally mentally clear” and 0 is “completely fogged to the point of being unable to do anything other than basic tasks”, then maybe I spent the past few months around 20. Going off the anti-inflammatories may feel like I’m back at 100, but I could be at 90. Or 80. Or even 60. But it’s so much greater than 20 that it feels like it could be 100.
And then there’s the greater question of “Where is my 100 now?”. Something that I’ve been told (and am still working on accepting) is that I’m never going to get back to my old 100% physically (We haven’t discussed mentally, or any mental implications of all of this). So what is my new 100%? 80% of where I am now? 60%? How will I know when I hit that? Will it be clear?
I suppose that aging is generally like that. I don’t really know what it feels like, to be intimately aware of simply aging (versus loosing ability due to chronic health issues) and the decline there. I think that when my chronic health problems started, I was too young to have really gotten a taste of that. I mean, sure, I did have some experiences like that first time that a hangover was really bad. Or the first time I got a bad hangover from drinking an amount of alcohol that made me only a little bit drunk – so not so drunk that I went to bed thinking “Oh man, I’m going to have a hangover tomorrow”.
There’s also when you’re horsing around, in your early thirties, doing physical stuff that you used to do as a kid. Jon and I fooled around doing stuff like sitting cross-legged then putting our feet on top of our knees (lotus style, basically), then getting up on to our knees and waddling around walking on our knees like that (please tell me we’re not the only people to do that). We were so sore the next day!
One of my coworkers was telling a story about talking to someone about how she was a cheerleader in high school, and wondering if she could still do a split. So she did, and it went fine…til the next morning. When she woke up, her thighs were screaaaaaming at her.
I have done and experienced a number of things like that, yes. But I didn’t get to the point where I had to greatly change my daily habits or become much more careful because of aging. I did hit that point with my chronic illness caused me to make changes. I guess in a way, it might have been an experience like aging, where I grimly held on to the idea that nothing was going to change, because I was completely fine thankyouverymuch, until I hit the point where I was in too much pain to continue with that kind of denial.
So then I changed. But when that initially happened, I remember feeling like it was a very temporary change. Yes, OK, I had a serious health problem. Fine. And I’d need to seriously take it easy until I got back. Again, fine. So I’d take it easy for a few weeks…that turned into a few months…that turned into a few years…that is now more than just a few years. And now? Now I don’t really know where I am. Now I don’t really know where I should set my sights. I don’t know how much better I’ll get.
I think I need to work on accepting never knowing more. Once I no longer feel horrible from getting off of my anti-inflammatory, and I can start exercising again, I guess it’s just…do things and see how they go. Try to stretch myself a little bit and see if it feels good or like it’s too much. Listen to my body and stop worrying about where I’ll end up. Focus on being where I am now, and working with what I’ve got. Learn a good balance between those two things: pushing myself a bit and being happy where I am in that moment.
It sounds a little bit like relationships with other people, doesn’t it? Being happy with never knowing how things are going to go. Enjoying what I have. Stretching myself to see if I can do better or differently and see how that feels. Taking every day at a time and taking care of myself.
Of course, with other people, if it turns out that they’re bad partners, I can always walk away from them. End the relationship. I can’t really end my relationship with my body. Well, not without dying, which I’m definitely not willing to do.
So now, I’ll take this added mental clarity I have and try not to waste it demanding to know exactly how much of it I have in regards to how much I could have, or how much I may lose later. I’ll work with what I’ve got, be grateful that my brain and mind feel a little bit more my own, and hope that this journey continues to improve my body in time.