Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Civilised Life

It's been a few weeks since I last wrote, I blogged about feeling 'like a normal person' after a day of work. Three weeks later things are looking alot differently to how they have in the past 11 months, actually my life looks differently than ever before.

A number of significant things have happened in the last few weeks, I was offered some casual work as a research assistant with a University, my bf and I decided to get a puppy (his name is Oscar) and I have been spending many days living like 'a normal person', sometimes even feeling it!

My boy Oscar
My work requires travel on some days while others I can work from home, it's flexible and ideal for me right now, because it's difficult to know how I will feel on any given day or sometimes from hour to hour. Any nerves that may have arisen around being able to complete a 'proper job' have not come up in this situation because I don't have to 'be' somewhere for any extended period of time. This makes it much easier as I am very capable of getting things done as long as I can walk to the beat of my own drum. If it means that I work funny hours I don't mind, I have loads of determination and employ the approach of working smarter rather than harder in order to manage my energy levels.

I have learned that determination alone is not enough to get things done. I have always had plenty of determination once I set my mind to something, but sometimes it can turn into perfectionism, which leads to overworking and consequently stress. Having a serious chronic illness taught me that determination alone will not get you far if your body is out of sorts, however being gentle with your Self and learning your limitations combined with determination can be a powerful.

I am much more aware of my self, my body, emotions and thoughts these days. However busyness and activity provide temptation for me to move further from awareness and into unconscious doing. This is an ongoing issue I struggle with so I place great importance on observing how busyness creeps into my life.

An indigenous friend of mine who used to visit me at my old work place where I was a social worker called this crazy busy pace that many city dwellers (and others) keep up 'uncivilised'. He was a member of the stolen generation and had been called uncivilised many a time, unfortunately his people still get that alot today. He sees the uncivilsation in people who are chasing their tails, completely out of touch with what's really important to them and living in an unconscious whir. This lack of consciousness he would explain to me led to the need to fill a void in their lives- with food, clothes and bigger better cars, houses etc. This way of living is synonomous with doing extreme damage to our natural environment and resources. I liked the way he taught me to know what is real; I treasured his visits and he was one of the few people who could help me to make sense of things, with his visits I experienced a sense of calm because I enjoyed being in the company of someone with such a big heart and so wise- thanks Den.

Clearly his message has stuck with me, when he would talk to me of such things I would agree and feel somewhat helpless to escape from the uncivilised behaviour, but now I feel empowered to keep my eye on things and to maintain control in my own life to ensure I don't allow myself to feel 'trapped' ever again.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Like a normal person

Yesterday I spent the day pretty much like a normal person. When you're unwell for an extended period of time, it's not uncommon to begin to compare yourself to what is 'normal'. Spending the day like a normal person is an exciting experience because it feels so good and it also signifies hope, that one day in the not too distant future you might just feel 'normal' all of the time.

In my mind a 'normal' person can get up in the morning at a reasonable hour feeling fairly refreshed from their sleep (not like they have just woken after a massive night out after just 3 hours sleep). A 'normal' person can get ready to leave the house without tiring, they can eat a standard kind of breakfast without feeling ill or thinking twice. When a 'normal' person leaves the house they feel ok, not like they want to curl up and sleep or as if their eyelids are threatening to close on them all of the time. They also feel relaxed, they don't worry about getting home soon or how sick they feel, they don't think twice about being on their way to a shopping centre because it's just so regular.

Yesterday I felt normal because I did all of the above with relative ease, once I was at the shopping centre I felt a little bit tired but not so tired that I wished to be at home, I was happy to be out. After an hour or so shopping I still felt ok and was still not wishing I could go home to rest, it was an enjoyable experience.

Upon returning home after many hours out and about with the boyfriend I did indeed feel tired, but not so tired that I also felt sick or that I needed to lie down and not get up for the rest of the night. It was a bearable tiredness that was not going to prevent me from feeling ok and continuing being 'normal'. The boyfriend decided he wanted to make dessert for the first time since we have begun our sugar free lifestyles. We decided to try a baked cheesecake, which involved a trip to the supermarket for ingredients. I walked to the supermarket without dragging my feet, as we walked up a slight incline I felt the muscles in my legs kick in and do what they're meant to. Just a week ago this same slight incline would have slowed me down and had me asking the boyfriend to walk more slowly, my muscles would not have 'kicked in' like a 'normal' persons, they would have gone weak and slowed me down.

We made dinner and dessert and enjoyed a nice evening in, because the cheesecake took so long to cook we ended up staying up late to be able to eat it. I was able to stay awake and felt just fine. I had successfully spent the whole day feeling reasonably well- awake and capable. I had been able to contribute to helping with housework, shopping, considering the planning of a mid year holiday and baking. Yesterday I hadn't had to make a choice between using my energy for housework or going shopping or baking, I had been able to do all three and it was a real thrill.

The other 'normal' thing that I did this week was work. I spent one day at work, helping at my parents' business. Do you know how long it has been since I have been in an office for work purposes? About ten months. I have not been involved in any official work or earned my own income (apart from a once off tutoring gig) in that long. It was a huge day for me to be up and ready for a 9am start and to deal with having to sit in the once place all day. I did feel quite tired by the end of the day and was glad that the job was not at all intellectually demanding, but I made it through.

All of this 'normalcy' has been made possible by my thyroid coming into balance, it was just two weeks ago that I was begging my specialist to let me stop taking the medication that was slowing my thyroid down (too much). She agreed that it would be safe to do so, I was going nuts dealing with the symptoms of an underactive thyroid; the worst of which was an extreme fatigue that had slowed me down to a near stop. With that fatigue came alot of disappointment and frustration that I was not yet better or feeling 'normal'. This 'hypothyroid' state was induced by the medication, just to make sure I would not return to the 'hyper' state (aka hell).

My hyperthyroidism was caused by the consumption of excessive amounts of iodine in a so called 'healthy soy drink' that was actually very dangerous. This is very relevant to my recovery, the theory is that once all of the iodine is flushed from my system and my thyroid has found balance it will remain that way.

Just 3 days ago, for the first time since my diagnosis in August 2010 my thyroid test results came back 'normal'. The results of my test go a long way to explaining why yesterday I had a normal day and why last week I went to work and felt kind of normal. The test results also signify hope for the future, that 'normal' days will increase from her on in and from there I will start to have energetic days where I feel completely healthy and day...I will live an energised, healthy and balanced life. As you can see, 'normal' is very important to me.

I doubt I will ever again take for granted how wonderful it feels to be 'ok' and to have my body be able to follow through on doing the things I want and need to, in harmony.
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