So. I’ve been quiet. I still have those entries for my time in Gili T to write-up and backdate, but while my holiday over there was stunningly wonderful, I brought back a souvenir that has effectively taken all my hard work and rendered it null and void. Within 26 hours of being back in the country, I was in A&E with symptoms of Dengue Fever.
We went through the whole gamut of tests – lumbar punctures, blood tests (I swear they were draining me dry), urine, visual, etc, etc, etc. I spent hours in A&E before being in isolation for a few days, and spent the total of a week in hospital. Rash, spiking temperature, excruciating pain and hypersensitivity, and I’m sure there were periods of deliriousness too. I appear to be one of the 5% that get Dengue badly. That’s not the end of it though. I now get to deal with the chronic fatigue that comes with the recovery. And the aching bones. And the non-existent ability to concentrate (makes reading and knitting difficult).
None of this helps my fight against depression. The meds have been a godsend, but even they can’t help me rally when the Black Dog is constantly at my feet, and the frustration at being weak, helpless and useless is pretty much a constant. I’ve lost 2 dress sizes (not that I had many to lose to start with). I’ve had to cancel my gym membership. I can’t go anywhere near a pool. I walk 250m down the road and I’m shattered. The more tired I become, the less I am able to mask the pain. Which becomes more frustrating because I should be able to function normally, but presently, I can’t. And when I do try ignore the pain and the fatigue and do things I’d like to get done/participate in social activities/ see friends/ etc, it all goes horribly wrong and I pay the price when I get home.
I wonder what it is that Murphy is trying to tell me this time? Over these past few weeks, I’ve watched all the results from my training, yoga, stretching, swimming, walking, etc, etc slowly come undone. The work I did strengthening my ankles and getting my leg muscles balanced has gone out the window. My core strength is going, the muscle tone I’ve worked hard to keep will be non-existent by the time I’m able to do anything again. And all I want to do is counter it now. Do some yoga. Go to the gym. Swim a couple of lengths. Walk to Pencarrow. Anything that is not curled up on a couch or dozing in bed. But while the spirit is very willing, the flesh cannot physically complete any of these tasks. Which makes me despair. Also, because I know that the moment I am able to start again, I will probably push myself too hard. And that is also a very bad thing.
More so because I have now had countless people tell me “to be kind to myself”. Those who know me, know that this is not something I am good at. In fact, I fail dismally at looking after me. I have this expectation that I should be able to do something, and get it done – damn the consequences. That is how I have managed to get myself into a more or less constant state of injury over the past 20 years. Add to that the post-PhD fear of missing out: the having spent so long focussing on a future goal that once it is no longer, all you have left is the now.
There are so many philosophies that talk about mindfulness. Living in the moment. Being present and content with what is here and now. All we have is today. Buddhist principles are all about mind and body occupying the present: don’t linger in the past, or worry about the future. This is sometime to aspire to, but sometimes (and I am guilty of this), I neglect the future to experience the now. If the opportunity is there, I will take it. I have done this for the past few years now, and it has been quite a ride. But I am unable to do this currently, and it is painful to me. Not for the fear of missing out, but for opportunities wasted. It is a hard challenge for me. Probably the hardest I’ve faced so far, and it is something I wouldn’t even wish on my worst enemies. As my brother sagely informed me this morning, when I have fully recovered, I’ll be stronger than ever. It’s a lovely sentiment, and I hope that it does come to pass because it doesn’t feel that way at the moment. I should probably think about learning and reciting the Serenity Prayer. I wonder if that will help…
But I should start taking Doctor’s orders (I am today), and plan my re-entry into society when I am finally able to do that again. I’ll write-up and post those entries from Gili T (with pictures) over the course of the next few days. But for now, it’s another cup of rooibos and sleep.
More on what I have managed to knit next time too. There has been colourwork and cables.