Why I prefer the virus

A few days ago I wrote about some symptoms I was having, but I didn’t know why. Now I know.

When I felt fatigued, brain fogged, and just “off” for the first couple days, I assumed I was just having “bad” days. After 4 days I was concerned. What if this wasn’t just my typical “bad” days? I wasn’t getting better. What if this was a long-term issue? That happens all the time, after all. I get a new symptom, or an old symptom becomes worse, and it stays that way for months or even years. Crap crap crap!

On day 5 I was fed up and I emailed my Naturopath. It was a Sunday, but I felt better having reached out anyway.

The next morning she wrote back: there’s a virus going around with my exact symptoms. I wrote back that I don’t have any other virus-like symptoms. No runny nose, sore throat, or upset stomach. She assured me this is what the virus is. Extreme fatigue. I decided to accept that. And then something interesting happened.

I rested.

For the first few days I had tried to continue my normal life. That means trying to “be productive” and “get stuff done.” Sure, I might be doing a lot less in a day than a healthy person, but I was doing it nonetheless. I was working on blog posts for this and another site, I was thinking about doing my laundry (though no actually doing it,) I was trying to clean up around the apartment. But I was failing at all of it. I just couldn’t manage.

Then I spent a couple days not doing anything and feeling guilty about it. I’d accepted that I needed to rest for a few days, but there were so many things I should be doing. I even went out briefly one day to get a prescription and some groceries. I felt bad about canceling plans with friends. It sucked.

Once I was told I had a virus, though, I rested without guilt! It was lovely! I watched tv, crocheted, listened to audio books, and read. My only responsibility was to keep myself fed, and I did that with simple meals: eggs, leftovers from the freezer, sandwiches. I washed dishes only as needed.

If I’d rested from the start, the virus probably wouldn’t have lasted so long. It was 8 days. Today is the first day I feel 100% over it. But I probably would have felt better days ago if I’d only rested from the start.

The thing is, when you have chronic illness you can’t rest every time you feel bad, because you’d never do anything. Even when my fatigue was at its absolute worst, I did stuff. Or I tried to do stuff. Or I felt guilty about not doing stuff. Because I felt that way every day, so pushing through was the only way to get shit done.

But a virus is different. It’s temporary, and we know it’s temporary. Resting with a chronic illness, only feels good in the moment, but resting with a virus means overall improvements in health. It’s worth resting if it means I’ll get better, right? So I rested.

And on top of that, there’s the sympathy! Family and friends were checking on me every day. That doesn’t happen with chronic illness. And I get it. Checking on someone every day for a week is one thing, but you can’t check on someone every day for the rest of their life. Still, it felt good to know people were thinking about me and wishing me well in the moment.

So given the choice, sure, I’ll take the virus every time! I felt only slightly worse that usual, and in exchange….

I got to rest without guilt!

What about you? Do you feel guilty when you rest? Do you find it easier to have a virus that you know will go away? Or are you the opposite? Please comment and let me know how you feel about it!

4 Responses to Why I prefer the virus

  1. Ms. Mango says:

    Completely agree, resting with a temporary problem (virus, acute injury etc) comes with very little guild and a lot more sympathy and understanding from everyone else about it. I still feel guilty when I catch something for resting, but maybe that’s because I already feel guilty for doing less than a healthy person would on a daily basis. Glad to hear you are now feeling 100% better from the nasty virus, hope you are having generally better days otherwise as well 🙂

  2. Deb D says:

    Funny timing! I just had lunch yesterday with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. She showed me pics of her agility dogs, etc. and she is older than I am but still able to run with the dogs and take care of elderly in-laws. I feel worthless and guilty when I try and compare my ability to others, and the rest for acute illness is a good example. I can’t just tell the old friend “well, I hurt like hell all the time and wish I could do half of what you are still able to do.” Frustrating. Good post.

    • chronicrants says:

      Hey Deb D, I’m sorry to hear you were in such a discouraging situation. I recently went through this with someone else. She was pushing herself way too hard in an exercise group, causing injury, because she kept insisting she should be able to keep up with someone in the group who was much older. But I pointed out that everyone is different! That person might have been athletic her whole life (while my friend was a couch potato until her 40s.) Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe she does nothing else all day, whereas my friend has an active life. You can’t compare. After all, should you feel guilty that you’re not as athletic as the Olympic competitors? Should your friend?

      I know it’s not that easy. It’s so hard to watch friends doing what we can’t. I’m just saying that everyone could compare themselves to someone doing more, doing better, etc. Instead, try this:

      I think it will help. And feel free to come rant in my comments section any time – I totally get it!

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