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Stir Crazy

I suck at relaxing.

This is a known. For as much as I talk about wanting time on a warm beach with nothing but a good book and some 50 SPF sun-block, I’m really only good with that for a couple hours.

I’ve now been out of commission for 11 days.

The first few days are a big ol’ blur. Yay for drugs! (Only when prescribed by a doctor. Not fun drugs. BOO on fun drugs! This has been a public service announcement by the mother of three teenagers.)

But things stopped being blurry like a week ago and now I’m just fidgety and watching December inch by and feeling like I’m operating on the same functional level as nematode for brain power and general capable-ness.

I went into work yesterday. Several people argued with me about this. But I knew that my department really needed to see me. You can’t be a physical therapist, or an occupational therapist, or a speech pathologist and think that your boss who just had the brain hemorrhage is really OK until you see her. (Or him. But in my case “her.” Way her.)

So I went in for only three hours and came home in extreme pain (in my back, not my head, I’m having some weird symptoms in my low back which are confusing my neurologist. I so LOVE being a medical mystery.)

And I woke up this morning with the fuel tank hovering just over the E. I thought about what I would feel like if I went in to work even for a few hours and got…well…scared. I spent yesterday afternoon in pain and useless, and that was starting out feeling OK.

But…I’m angry. And I know I shouldn’t be! Really, I do. It is a miracle that I’m fine and I know I need to be grateful and take it easy and deal with a few weeks of low function. But earlier I had to tell myself, OUT LOUD, to SIT DOWN when I was puttering around the kitchen dealing with several tons of junk mail. (Cause we haven’t paid attention to it for eleven days. Google Earth is going to lose sight of our house if we don’t get on top of this soon.)

I’m restless. And anxious. And edgy and cranky and angsty. Basically, I am all of Snow White’s Dysfunctional Dwarves rolled into one newly-chubby package.

I would so suck as a Real Housewife.

Which, I suppose, is actually a silver lining.

In Which Standards are Adjusted Down. WAY Down.

NOTE: I am getting better. I really am. But you wouldn’t know that based on the depth of whiny rantitude that is about to commence without me saying that, so I’m just going to put that out there up front.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled bloggy goodness.

It has been observed, by people who have known me for more than eleven seconds, that I am somewhat obsessive anal psychotic detail-oriented. And obsessive anal psychotic driven. And that I’m not really satisfied with the day if I don’t get roughly fourteen thousand things done.

And that’s if I oversleep.

Things are different in the Land O’ Lori these days. (NOT to be confused with the Land O’ Lakes. Although I do love butter.)

And I am NOT happy with the current status. No sirree bub.

Waking up? Now takes a good two hours. Not that I was ever one of those mutant rise-and-shine-get-your-teeth-kicked-in types, but I could function after 20 minutes and a cup of coffee. Now I have to wake up, get the crane in place, pay the union wages for the crew that has to man the heavy loading equipment that needs to help me move, force down a quantity of tylenol and ibuprofen that probably causes premature balding in rats, and sit for about 45 minutes before I can stumble into a shower where I will promise myself – AGAIN – that I will shave my legs tomorrow.

Laundry has now become a completely discretionary activity. If it’s not crawling or launching its own e-business, I figure I can get away with wearing it.

And don’t get me started on my job. I’m supposed to work a 6.5 hour day, and that presumes a pace that would easily get me a Doritos or GoDaddy NASCAR endorsement. There is no pace now. There is anti-pace. There is no multi-tasking. There is only uni-tasking. (There is also uni-brow, but that’s another story.) My staff is afraid to bring things to me for fear that an arm, a leg, or a portion of my cerebral cortex might fall off.

The shelves in the refrigerator are so sticky that we could trap bears. And given the state of the kitchen, it’s entirely possible that a disoriented panda could be in there and I would seriously have no idea until it complained about the condition of the microwave.

I now measure things in terms of how many minutes I can do them before 1) I am too tired, 2) I am too uncomfortable, or 3) my children decide it’ll just go better if they do it themselves. My kids are teenagers. Is there any greater shame?

I know I’m supposed to be ok with going slow, and cutting back, and relaxing standards. BUT FOR GOD’S SAKE, DON’T YOU PEOPLE KNOW ME????


Fine. For a while I will be content if I have socks on the INSIDE of my shoes, the take-out food budget stays SLIGHTLY smaller than the national debt, and that I remember that I have two kids and three cats.

I mean two cats and three kids.


Behind My Eyes

It might be expected that my awareness would be immediate, the slightest breath caught or tension triggering the internal shift. But it’s not this way.

It sneaks up on me, a gradual discomfort. A slow creep of intensity that climbs without alarms until an unmapped threshold is crossed.

It may be that the constant low hum of ache just above the place where my neck meets my skull inures me to the change. There is always discomfort – but it’s small, manageable. The pain is mostly static – sitting in one place, hovering at the same number on the dial; a background noise that registers no more than the dishwasher or the brittle buzz of a fluorescent light. It pulses slowly within a clearly defined wavelength, a period of hours or even days. Easy to tune out, modest enough to dispel with small doses of America’s most trusted pain reliever. I could ignore the hum and surge if I chose, but that’s tiring, so I let the pain medicine silence the ache for me.

The ever present hum of mild pain lulls me and it takes a pinprick through my awareness before I realize that something is different. But once the change makes itself known I am instantly in a heightened state of alertness, taking an internal inventory.

When the pain climbs above the curve of my skull in the back, I shift my posture. When it moves from the back to the front, my breathing quickens. And if the discomfort settles over my nose and eyes, not so much pain as tightness, like a blindfold aggressively bound, my heart rate climbs at alarming speed. I sit perfectly still, sending my sensory awareness into a sphere that intersects my head at the lips, ears, and crown: a reservoir, a rain gauge. I assess the size of the ball-shaped pain – how much space does it take in the reservoir? A small amount, surely, I tell myself.

What color is the pain? I look into the reservoir. Not blue. Never blue. Blue doesn’t register on the gauge. Blue is comfort and coolness. It is never blue. But yellow, perhaps, tinged with orange.

But here is the reason for the stillness, why I won’t move, am terrified to move. I have to watch closely, finding the edges of the pain, memorizing its color, so I can appreciate change. I have to know if the ball floating in the reservoir is getting larger or more vibrant.

It swells slowly, modulating subtle colors. The slowness itself is reassuring, in contrast to the lightening strike. I never lose track of the perimeter, the color moves only modestly along the spectrum.

And then it is static again. A larger, brighter ball, but locked in size and color. The ache at the top of my head makes me anxious, the pressure over my nose scratches angrily at my reassuring words. They sneer at my courage and threaten me with panic and tears. They laugh at how my iron will is truly made of spiderweb silk and taunt me with memories.

I refuse to engage with them, although I could not ever say I ignore them, until the ball shrinks again, and the color fades to a dull mustard. The barbed imps retreat, for however long, and I am alone behind my eyes again.