Mono-Railed

My, my, my! When you last heard from me, I had just been diagnosed with mononucleosis, and was trying to understand both how I got it, and exactly how one gets through it. It’s been about seven weeks now, and the answer to both questions is…no freaking idea! I still haven’t heard from, or of, anyone else sharing this lovely little bug. And, seven weeks in, I am still struggling with extreme exhaustion, fevers, elevated white blood cell counts, endless sore throats and all sorts of other fun, fun symptoms. It has been a real bumpy ride!
Exhaustion, or its more elegant name, fatigue, is an odd little thing. I come from a “walk it off” tribe of people, so it’s sort of in my DNA that nothing is going to stop me, or hold me back. Your right arm snaps off? Suddenly, you’re an adept lefty. You lose your house, or your mind? Build a shack out of mud, channel that insanity for something positive and creative. No slowing down, no pity parties allowed. Walk it off!
So, I’m going to confess here, and it is with a bit of shame, because it really demonstrates I’m not quite as empathetic and compassionate as I would strive to be. But in the past, when I heard, let’s say, of a celebrated performer or something, who had to cancel their tour because of exhaustion, my sympathy was limited. Can’t exhaustion simply be cured by a good night’s sleep? Or perhaps a nice brisk walk?
Turns out, it can’t! It’s a real thing, and, let me just tell you, it sucks big time! I’ve never been a great sleeper, and have basically spent my whole life resisting bed time, there always seems to be something more interesting to do. Now I quite literally wake up in the morning and my first thought is, I’m so tired! My next thought is, how soon can I go back to bed? Every thought and action requires way more energy than it normally should. To revert back to my native language, it is, like, a total bummer!
Now of course, I haven’t spent the last 7 weeks lying in bed. There’s no way I could stand that! I’ve done a few limited social activities, like seeing Beauty and the Beast (just wonderful, by the way). Last night I took a dear friend out for a birthday dinner that had been delayed for over a month because I wasn’t up to it. We had a wonderful time, but I rested all day to have the energy, and went to bed as soon as I got home.
I also have a job, and it’s sort of a demanding one. With the exception of two days the first week I was diagnosed, I have kept a full time schedule of work, easily more than 40 hours a week. I’m extremely fortunate that I have a lot of flexibility, including the ability to work from home several days a week, and within reason, I can set my own hours as long as the work gets done. But with team members spread virtually throughout the world, and our busiest season in full swing, plus adjusting to a new boss and all sorts of other internal changes, it has been rough. I’m more stressed than I have been since I moved here, probably not the best approach to recovery.
As I write this, I feel guilty. It’s not my way to complain, and I’m not trying to elicit sympathy, although I certainly won’t reject it either. I’m quite blessed in many ways, and sooner or later, I will get my pep back and be done with this illness. It’s certainly not terminal, and while it’s inconvenient and frustrating, it’s not the end of the world. But it has been an interesting lesson to learn, and in a way, I guess I’m grateful that there’s something to be gained from even the most annoying circumstances.
I’ve learned that sometimes, you have to give in. Not everything can be “walked off.” Chronic fatigue is a real thing, and it can be debilitating. I’ve been reminded of the kindness of people, those who have checked in with me regularly and listened kindly to my complaints without judgment. I’m extremely appreciative of my neighbor, who in a short time has become my good friend, and has kept an eye on me and plied me with cupcakes and cheer and offers of grocery runs. It’s true in life that sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it. I’ll never take having energy and zip for granted again, once it comes back to me.
Spring is upon us, and although snow is still on the ground in New England, warmth and renewal are on the horizon. Next week, I’ll be making a quick trip home, to see my parents, and bask in the sun with my BFF. I’ll get to kiss my sister and hug my nephew and absorb those golden rays of California sunshine. I’ll put aside the stress of work, and repair myself with rest and relaxation and love and laughter. I expect to come home feeling better and ready for the next steps on my journey. And if I don’t? I guess I’ll just have to walk it off, one slow but steady step at a time.
The end, for now

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