I’ve been thinking a lot recently about consequences.
A little bit about how as we get older, we are much more aware (wary?) of the consequences of our actions. Some thoughts about how when we were young other things informed our decisions – fun, experience, etc.
Sometimes consequences have to be dealt with even if we wouldn’t have chosen the action. I deal with the ‘consequences’ of MS every day, and I have to admit, I mostly wish I didn’t. But here’s the thing — some consequences of this disease have been good. I’m infinitely healthier than I might otherwise have been. I get more sleep, I eat better food, I work out a.lot more than I ever might have. I drink a ton of water every day. None of that is bad.
But I also have to think about everything. If I do something physical, what are the risks of hurting myself? If I hurt myself, how long will it take this broken down body of mine to heal? I recently went to Hilton Head for a few days with my parents. We drove down (it’s a long ride in the car, let me tell you!) and I flew home. I tried as hard as I could to maintain normalcy for this finicky body but despite my best efforts, I spent about 36 hours after getting home trying to recover. From what, you ask.
From life. From the dehydration I accidentally caused myself by not keeping up with my water drinking. From the strange schedule that my body couldn’t find the rhythm to. From fatigue caused by not sleeping in my own bed, in my own sheets, with my ceiling fan and window.
I know, this all sounds ridiculous. I need to buck up, stop being such a fuss pot.
I one thousand million trillion percent agree.
Only, it doesn’t work like that for me anymore.
I quit my job at the beginning of the year. For many reasons. Being wildly unhappy was the final catalyst, something I’d pushed down for years (I understood the consequence of giving up my salary and wasn’t ready to take the leap for a long, loooonnng time. That maturity and awareness had not informed my earlier years of job hopping because I didn’t think about the financial consequences quite as much in my early to mid twenties and before MS).
Anyway, I quit my job. As the months have passed, I’ve come back to myself in so many ways. I’ve remembered who I was before I was so completely miserable. And I have also become more aware of how everything — and I mean everything — is affected by my disease.
Which brings me back to consequences. Every action I take has a consequence. In some ways, our lives are the result of the consequences of our actions. Every time I decide to stray from my routine, my body manifests the consequences. I’m not one of those people who can pop an Advil or two, drink a tall glass of water, and not feel the effects of a day at a bar the next morning. I feel all of the effects. Pain in my body from sitting on a bar stool, pain in my abdomen from eating too much processed food, pain in my head from having one too many glasses of wine (despite also drinking a water with each one). And worst of all, the pain of unrelenting fatigue.
Here’s the thing, too. Sometimes, adrenaline keeps me going for a few days. When I was in Hilton Head, i didn’t feel bad. I felt a little sleep deprived but nothing horrible. It wasn’t until I got home that my body succumbed to all that ailed it. When I was working, I pushed through. I knew my responsibilities and I got things done. I didn’t really feel the fatigue or the emotional toll it had all been taking until it was over, and my body collapsed from the sustained effort to keep going.
It’s a delicate balance, the art of considering the consequences and choosing what to do and what to pass on. I know that people must look at me sometimes and wonder what my problem is. “But she looks so healthy! She looks better than she used to look!”
Yup. But I don’t feel better than I used to feel. I am not, in actual fact, healthy. I mean, relatively, I am. But I still have a disease eating away at my brain and spinal cord. I still have to journey to the hospital every twenty-eight days to be infused with powerful medication. I still feel the slow deterioration of my abilities. I am still so, so, unbelievably tired.
So yeah. I’ve been thinking a lot about consequences. How to minimize them. How to choose wisely. And I’m still so, so tired.