Today was the first day I woke up not feeling the weakness beneath the “I’m okay.” I’m not okay, as such, if by okay you define being well enough to roll up my sleeves and start scrubbing the house which looks like the Augean stables, only more so. I still feel tired and sort of out of it, but not like I’m walking a thin layer of seeming normalcy and will at any minute fall through into sickness.
I wish I could explain that feeling better than that. I don’t even know if other people have it. I didn’t use to. Sickness used to land on me without warning, then vanish just as quickly, but about ten years ago, I started waking up the night or two before I got sick, with that feeling of walking on a thin layer of health that will give out at any minute. There are no symptoms as yet, at that point, just the feeling “All is not sound.”
For the last two days, I’ve woken up feeling that but in reverse. There was this hole of “not well” but a thin layer of “almost well” on top. And I felt grateful for it.
Today, for the first time, I feel like I’m sound through. I will not push. And I don’t feel strong. But it’s more like… like I just had a really tiring weekend and today I’m recovering. Like a lot was taken out of me, so I can baby myself.
Which is why I’m so late posting.
The feeling/sense that I’m going to get sick, before I have any symptoms fascinates me. There’s the temptation to say “Well, you got sick because you expected it” but actually I’m almost sure that’s not it. More like I sense weakness that’s not visible yet. At any rate, the type of illness it heralds can be anything and I never know what to expect. If we’re in flu season and I rest THEN and push enough vitamin c and stuff, I might not really get ill, just have this shallow “not quite well” two or three day period.
But sometimes I’m wrong. Vitamin C doesn’t do much for stomach flu, for instance. And this time, I didn’t know what to expect, and then Dan got sick which limits my ability to sit back and baby myself. (Not that he’s a demanding patient, but it means that he can’t do much, and his cat becomes hysterical, and… well… I worry.)
What I’m trying to get at is that it might be well nigh impossible for us to ever figure out what part of how we experience our bodies is real and what part is psychosomatic. We all know about hypochondriacs who display real symptoms. There are people who can make wounds appear on themselves, as well as people who can heal themselves. There are faith healers.
And, unrelated to illness, there is the fact that if you imagine exercise in great detail, you’ll develop muscles. This study didn’t even surprise me because way back, when I was writing Mirrorplay, there were these five chapters where they were cutting cross-country, ten people surviving from a battle and with a plan to cut at the heart of the enemy citadel, before the enemy could expect a counter attack. Their march involved not just a hard slog of walking, but swimming and rock climbing and crossing ravines hand over hand from a suspended rope. I don’t think I EVER ate as much as I did that week. I was always hungry. And I lost ten pounds. The cue seems to be “Imagining in detail” which for most of us and most exercise would be boring, right? Unless you’re paraplegic or something.
It’s one of those things that bedevils me – what is real, and what is our mind playing tricks on me? One of my writing acquaintances, who used to do Star Trek novels, which I understand are intensive bursts of work, said she used to have Star Trek Flu. Whenever she delivered a novel, she’d come down with something flu-like where all she could do was sit in front of the TV for three days.
I’ve experienced this, particularly when it’s a novel that’s contracted, that I don’t want to write, and I have to MAKE myself write. When I’m done, I have “flu like” stuff last a week or two. I never know whether that is because I’ve been pushing the sickness till I can “afford to get ill” or if it’s my mind taking it out on my body.
I do know that the one time we had the money – after I finished Plain Jane – instead of launching into my normal clean up operations of the house that has waited till the book was done, I DEMANDED Dan take me to Denver for two nights. (Had to go away, or had to clean.) And when I came back, I did not get ill. Mind you, all I did those two and a half days was sleep, read books and go for walks with Dan. It was, apparently, enough. And if the Indie thing starts making me real money, (Which of course, presupposes my feeding it!) I’ll plan that every time I finish something.
Not this year.
This year, I need to find a balance between working hard and resting that doesn’t crash me everytime a project is done.
Not yet, I haven’t.
But I’m working on it. And as for today, I’m going back to bed for an hour or two. I still feel as though I can’t sleep ENOUGH. It’s just that I’m on the way up.
It is enough for now.