The thing about having a chronic illness is that I often feel like I have the flu or something like it. It sucks, but I can’t do much about, so I accept it. And I think that acceptance really affects how I handle having something that isn’t part of my chronic illness.
I used to get a sore throat, the chills, and fatigue, and assume I had a bug. It took me many years to figure out that those symptoms had more to do with my thyroid than with a virus, so even though I felt lousy, I didn’t have to worry about being contagious. Unfortunately, that attitude led me in the wrong direction last week. I had what I thought was an especially bad IBS attack for the first time in a long time. It didn’t resolve as quickly as usual, so I starting thinking that maybe I was having a bad response to my new thyroid med. Uh oh! I decided to wait a few days to see what happened. In the meantime I went on with my life. It never occurred to me that I had a bug.
Three days later I was having a really rough time. It was late at night, and I felt truly dreadful. I decided that enough time had passed and in the morning I called my naturopath. That’s when I got the news: I had the exact same symptoms as many of her other patients. There’s a stomach bug going around, it lasts about a week, and I had it. I needed to spend several days at home, resting and not eating. Oh crap!
I immediately thought about the unusually high number of “vulnerable” people I’d been around over the last several days. This was unusual, even for me. I was with my friends and their 4-year-old. I spent time with my 90+ grandfather. I waited with a friend who was in labor, while her husband rushed to get there. I visited with a friend who was recovering from knee surgery. *(&$#^#!!!
I couldn’t do anything about the past. I just hoped no one I had been with got this bug! (Update: So far, go good. No one I was with has reported symptoms, so I don’t think they caught it from me. Yay!) I was so used to not being contagious when I felt lousy that I went on with my life. A “healthy” person would have probably known immediately that something was wrong, and they would have stayed home while feeling crappy. I hadn’t done things ideally in the past few days. But looking to the future, I had the advantage.
Yes, I was disappointed to cancel my plans for the next few days. There was a lot I was looking forward to, but I’m also used to canceling. I didn’t get upset over it. I didn’t even look at my “to do” list. I knew there was nothing on there that couldn’t wait until I was better. Sure enough, a car issue, a cell phone issue, balancing my bank accounts, cleaning up the apartment, writing to my doctor to correct mistakes in my medical record (that’s a whole story in itself!), getting my orthodics adjusted, buying new glasses, getting my friend a baby gift, and taking out the trash, among so many other things, still need to get done now that I’m feeling better. And you know what? Waiting a few days to do them didn’t hurt anyone or anything. In the old days, I would have tried to do some of that while I was sick, or I would have at least worried about it all needing to get done. Now I know better.
Resting is sort of a skill. It can be hard to rest if you don’t have the tools. After years of chronic illness, though, I’m an expert in this area. I have the mindset. I knew I had to take it easy, so I did. I didn’t try to push myself to do more than I should. No problem there. I also have everything I need. I had plain rice in a cabinet and I quickly made some. I pulled ginger root out of the freezer and grated it into hot water. I had apple juice in a cabinet. I put on cozy, comfy clothes that I keep specifically for lounging around the house. I pulled out some relaxing knitting and crochet projects. I had plenty to watch on the dvr and, in case that got boring or not relaxing enough, I had a stack of feel-good moves on my bookshelf. I had an interesting, fun book from the library. To top it all off, I had the large, soft, oversize throw blanket that I cuddled up in for the better part of each day. Yup, no one knows how to relax like someone who’s forced to do it constantly.
So did it suck having to slow down, cancel stuff, and stay indoors on sunny days (especially knowing the lousy weather that’s headed our way)? Yup. But I’ve done it before and I know I’ll have to do it again, so I didn’t let it get to me. I’m just glad that it’s over now, and I can started to get things together again. I have writing to catch up on here, lots of laundry to wash, and that whole “to do” list to catch up on. But at least I’m no longer doubled over with nausea. I guess it’s all relative.