Saturday, August 29, 2015

Slumber Power

The first step in getting my fibromyalgia managed was to start sleeping. Between the pain and my racing brain, this was no simple task. While I was certainly still popping my share of pills, doping myself into a slumber stupor stopped working years before and wasn't a lifetime solution to cure my ever-worsening insomnia. But I had no clue what was. Sleep hygiene, meditation, supplements, positive thinking, desperate freak-outs, none of them worked. What did? Drinking fresh vegetable juice. Shortly after Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead inspired me to start juicing regularly, I started sleeping. It was glorious! Not every night, but with increasing regularity I would wake up refreshed, well-rested, and a tiny bit more stabilized than I was the night before. 

In hindsight, I can see this was the first building block that got me back to living. Not walking around like a zombie trudging through quicksand for the majority of my days did wonders for my ability to engage in this frivolous little game healthy people call life. Once my deficient immune system was getting both nutrition and sleep, the virus that created all this mayhem in the first place didn't have nearly as much control over its host, i.e. me. Exercising with any kind of regularity, making plans and actually keeping them, being able to focus on something other than how awful I always felt, it all became possible for the first time in many years.

So here I sit, after all this progress, with another sleep transition being thrust upon me. For the last month or so, my eyes have been popping open between 7 and 8 a.m., regardless of what time I went to sleep, which is usually somewhere around 2 in the morning. Needless to say, I will not keep my tenuous grasp on both my sanity and my illness by getting five hours of sleep a night. I'm trying so hard to frame this latest challenge as an opportunity to get on a normal schedule, not a sabotage of my entire existence. It's hard. Luckily, with an extra-strict application of all that sleep hygiene poppycock, falling asleep isn't nearly as challenging as it used to be. So here I sit, at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, having gone to sleep at 12:30, trying to figure out what on earth to do with my well-rested self. What do normal, responsible, not sick adults, who don't have to work, do so early on a Saturday morning? I suppose I'll go find out.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Another Outrageous Reaction

I know myself very well at this point in my life. I know my behaviors, my triggers, my illnesses, and all that is required to make life happen so I can get out of bed in the morning and live it. Believe you me, it's been no easy feat gleaning all this knowledge, but now that I own it, it's mine. So did I expect to totally freak out and work myself into an incorrigible tizzy over last week's blow-up with my boss? Well...I hoped I wouldn't. I mean, nobody can control my reactions to life but me, right? I certainly tried not to, especially once the boils started breaking out on my face and the all-consuming anger signaling a monster flare reared its ugly head. Sadly, in this instance, mind over matter didn't win.

Especially when I woke up "healthy-people" sick. After six nights of little to no sleep, my ability to cope flew out the window. There was no way in hell I could override all the forces pecking at my resolve, so I succumbed. Violent conversations with every employer who's ever wronged me commandeered my consciousness. Fits of rage over how bad it sucks to be a sick woman living in a healthy world consumed me. My peace, my strength, my resolve, my belief that I can conquer whatever life throws my way-- all flew out the window in the face of this relatively minor blip on the radar of getting back to living life. So on Saturday, for the first time since I started work in March, I called in sick. And then I had to go to that damn Sunday morning meeting, where I proceeded to hack and sneeze all over my co-workers, who weren't any happier about being there than I was. Well, maybe a little, considering they aren't both chronically ill and healthy-people sick. 

Today I'm still sick, but getting a grip. As I start to see a glimmer of the strong woman I know I am peeking around the corner, I'm remembering how important life's challenges are for me. They stretch me, they grow me, and they force me to become a better me. They also invigorate my low tolerance for other people's bullshit, which only helps propel me further. In my logical mind, I know it's vitally important this job remain uncomfortable. Not take me down in a spiraling heap of disability, but not foster my natural tendency to settle into complacency, either. I have big goals and ambitions and must be constantly reminded to stay on the path of great resistance, least I never achieve what is in my heart. So I'm choosing to view this whole experience as yet another opportunity to hone my focus. Once I get over this darn flu and can get back to living my life, that is. 

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Work-Illness Balance

Well, the inevitable finally happened. A confrontation with my boss which completely caught me off guard and went horribly wrong. Last night at 9:30, when she informed me I had to attend a mandatory 9 a.m. meeting on Sunday, it was the first I was hearing about said meeting. In my effort to be a flexible and accommodating employee, I said, "Great, but I'm off Sunday so I'll need to work that day, because I can only work four days a week. So you have to take me off of another one of my shifts." Of course, she wasn't willing to do that, and had no clue why attending a two-hour breakfast meeting would constitute an entire day of work for me. That's when the conversation went off the rails.

I began stammering about having to go the gym and my back seizing up. Next thing I know, I'm looking at my schedule with my boss, and she's pointing out all the other times I'm available to go to the gym that week. Sigh. Thanks, lady, but I'm 39 years old, and don't need help organizing my free time. Of course, by this point I'm flustered and losing my composure. I sound punitive, unflexible, and whiny. Then she asks me if I will work five days a week during our next promotion! Inside, I panic. I get flustered and almost start crying. All my PTSD alarms are sounding, and I break down and tell her I live with chronic illness, and didn't work for four years, and my life is very hard to manage, and I'm doing my best, and I pretty much fly out of there in a rage so huge, I don't really remember leaving the building.

About halfway home I remember my resolve to not react emotionally to life. Oh yeah, that. It takes another hour for me to realize I never received said email informing me about the meeting. A little while later the big daddy hits me; I've never discussed my health problems with my boss. Obviously, during the interview I wasn't trying to play up my deficiencies, I was trying to get hired. So aside from addressing my gap in work history and being absolutely firm that I can only work a maximum of four days and 30 hours a week, I didn't go into it. Now here I sit, expecting her to understand something she doesn't know anything about because I've never explained it to her. 

Another big freakin' sigh. This sucks. I shouldn't have to explain that my schedule problems have far more to do with my sleep issues and my persistent virus waiting in the wings to take over my life if I don't live like an extreme-health psycho. That's nobody's business, really. But if there's one thing being back to work for the last five moths has taught me, fair doesn't exist. If I want this job to work, I have to make it work, and unfortunately that includes arming my manager with enough information to respect my limitations. I'm off today, and will probably spend the majority of it hashing out this conversation in my head, reacting to how unfair and hard this is, trying to come off as a competent, able-bodied, sound-minded individual while still conveying the struggle of my reality. Living, walking, and breathing the absurd paradox this illness forces me to embrace.

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