Yesterday I read a blog post from a friend of mine who also lives with a chronic illness. She was writing about the things that she finds centering – her “touchstones.”
Since I’ve been on my recovery journey – from Epstein-Barr Virus and now possibly celiac disease – I’ve had LOTS of ups and downs. It’s been hard for me to find my “touchstones” because I usually expect that I can do whatever I want at any time. Why should I need anything to help me get back to center, to bring myself some calmness, to take care of myself?
An example: yesterday I felt fabulous. I hadn’t had a viral crash in over two weeks while on the antiviral meds, and I decided to vacuum. Then I dusted. Then I Swiffered. Then I cleaned up the bathroom. According to my physical therapy plan, I’m not supposed to get my heart rate up to 95-ish for any sustained amount of time. I sort of knew I was pushing it, so I checked my heart rate after all that cleaning.
It was 102.
But I felt FINE! I was FINE, okay? Why would I not clean the house if I wanted to? Normal people can do that, right? I used to do it all the time.
I went about the rest of my day and had friends over in the evening.
Then, this morning, something was off. I felt woozy. I got that characteristic tingle inside my left ear that traveled down my neck. The left side of my face was cold. My left leg was weak and felt like dead weight. My brain was foggy and I couldn’t focus on anything.
Eh, I just need to get on with my day and I’ll be fine, I thought.
I’ll just scrub this butcher block and that will wake me up a bit.
Scrubbed butcher block. Felt worse.
It probably shouldn’t have taken me 3 hours to realize I was in a viral crash, but 3 hours is way better than the time it usually takes me to accept it: all day, or never.
So, I have blocked out the rest of the day for the few things that I can sort of focus on and that don’t require much physical exertion: lying on the sofa with my dog, watching the British Baking Show, and maybe doing a little crochet.
I consider these things to be a treat, too, which makes it that much easier to accept the crash and not make myself suffer more by trying to continue “as normal.”