Monday, December 02, 2019

Keeping Upbeat During Illness Is a Challenge

Totally sick dude - September 24th

Do I still have a blog? You wouldn’t know it by how infrequently I’ve updated it lately. Sometimes life can overwhelm. When that happens, I like to believe that I will always be plucky enough to fend off the doldrums and shake my fist defiantly at the obstacles that beset me. However, when illness weakens your knees and keeps you motionless in bed, is there enough pluck to lift your fist, never mind keep your spirits up?

I’ve been incredibly sick this Fall. I started my journey on September 7th. I attended FanX in Salt Lake City, had a good time attending with my daughter, then came home and tried to fight off a case of con crud. After about a week, I thought I had licked it. The sky was clear for a change, and an open parking lot was calling to me. While my daughter was in therapy, I pulled out my longboard for some therapy of my own. I usually wear gear because of my Tourette’s, but I was certain I could be careful.

I lasted six minutes.

The moment my wheels hit that evil, cursed twig, my board became instant friends with friction, and I pitched forward as if I was hinged to the pavement. My hands broke the fall, but I took a lot of damage. Clearly, I wasn’t well. My graceless plummet was all the proof I needed. A few days later I was in the ER late at night, getting my hand x-rayed and describing my cold symptoms to the doctor. I had relapsed.

Off and on, off and on the cold went, but the off days quickly shortened. By the end of September I was bedridden, ravaged by seasonal allergies and a mystery illness nobody could identify. Aside from summoning the energy to attend to my daughter’s failing grades, her IEP, and trips to the grocery store, I laid in bed, waiting to get better. My Tourette’s was out of control, and I had no energy to get anything I needed done. Discouragement and depression had settled in, but I was so sick, who could notice?

We treated the illness as viral at first, then bacterial, and finally, after two and a half months of numerous ER/Instacare visits, a trip to my GP, two chest x-rays, a cat scan, three courses of anti-biotics, a visit to an ENT, and multiple visits with my allergist, we concluded I was having an asthmatic reaction to the poor air quality in Salt Lake Valley this Fall. Or maybe it was a sinus migraine? Big shrugs all around.

I have a hard time believing asthma could account for three months of being bedridden, but there was that time in 2013 when I was sick with similar symptoms. I suspect I had a perfect storm this Fall of catching a virus at FanX, suffering from severe seasonal allergies due to all the rain this past Summer, and adding the asthma on top to make things exciting

Now you know what I’ve been up to. Writing all of that was cathartic. If only I could brag about how wonderfully I handled my infirmity.

I must admit I have been pushed beyond my ability to remain optimistic. It’s been a challenge. My sleep schedule is flipped around so completely, I’m not going to bed until next week every day. My pride is deflated because I am physically weak due to so many months of sickness—undoing months of physical therapy. And I am professionally frustrated because I haven’t been able to do my freelance work. I haven’t even written here in my own blog, never mind finding time to work on my book projects.

You could say that I’ve been discouraged lately. You could say that I’ve probably had a difficult time fighting off depression, too.

Fortunately, I’m on the mend. Before I improved physically, however, I had to improve my attitude. My first act was to drag myself to the Instacare. And again and again. Then I made appointments with my GP and my allergist. I was too sick and depressed to do it before, but now I was sick of being sick.

I followed their remedies.
I followed up with new appointments.
I treated the asthma even though I was skeptical.
Then I asked my Bishop to give me a blessing.

I mark my turnaround at that point, even though it has been slow. I wanted a Tiny Tim miraculous recovery, but I’ll take whatever I can get. If you scoff at miracles, let’s consider it this way: God helps those who help themselves. I made a conscious action to move forward. I asked for help. I took care of myself. I started to recover.

Once I had more energy:
I organized my finances.
I picked up my living area.
I reached out to friends.
I baked for neighbors who had experienced hardship.
I helped my older daughters with their challenges and difficult times via texting, phone calls & video chatting.
And I finally dragged myself into a barber shop for a hair cut last week.

I’m still sick. In fact, I may be ill for the rest of the Winter, but I’m in better spirits now. I have a tendency to push too far, but I’m mindful now. No more sprained wrists. No more relapses. I can pace myself back to health while also keeping a handle on my depression. I finally have a proper frame of mind to summon some pluck and get better.

A hearty “thank you” for those readers who bought a copy of my book during my recent hiatus. I hope you found my book on fighting suicidalism helpful.