“How could you even think you could do that? It wasn’t very smart…”
On Sunday just gone I was feeling good. More energy. Alive with the possibility that Xeljanz is kicking in and doing its thing. I was in a great mood, happy, positive. Re-carpeting my house has been an ongoing adventure since I moved here, three and a half years ago (but who’s counting?) and the holdup has been that the house needed painting before carpeting. Makes sense, right?
It also makes sense that as my Rheumatoid Arthritis has progressed, my physical abilities have decreased accordingly. Three and a half years ago I still had two mild days a week and painting the house myself seemed like fun. (I know, what was I thinking???). I was about to start Enbrel and I KNEW it was going to get me to remission or darn close. Things didn’t work out quite like that, but I painted when I could. And sometimes when I couldn’t. It has taken this long to get down to only one bedroom and the family room/kitchen to go. This, to me, is pretty exciting, and definitely the home stretch!
So I decided to spend the day cleaning the skirting boards and window sills to prep them for painting. I paced. I rested. And I spent the following day masking taping the same areas in preparation for painting. Tuesday my back was complaining pretty nastily, so I rested.
Wednesday I couldn’t move. The pain in my lumbar spine was so severe I could only lie flat on my back. Bugger. I did too much. Even though what I did, for a normal person, would have taken two hours maybe, and left them with no ill effects. For me, getting down that low, into awkward positions, meant my spine shifted and compressed some nerves or something, because my left leg was mostly numb for the entire day. Walking wasn’t really a thing, and getting to the bathroom was a herculean effort. Go me!
So I needed help. So I reached out and asked for it. It came, but with a lecture.
How could you even think you could do that? It wasn’t very smart…
I chucked and agreed. What else do you do when someone has kindly delivered food? And I can see how a person might look at it that way.
But understand this. I want to participate in life. I want to achieve things for myself. Because my abilities vary from day to day I am never quite sure what I am capable of.
So I try.
Should I spend my life on the couch assuming I can’t do something and avoid pain? It’s a valid choice to avoid activities that may cause pain. Severe pain is not a whole lot of fun. But it’s the ‘may’ in that sentence that causes my quandary.
“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”
One of my favourite quotes. I’m like that. All quotey and stuff. Admittedly some days I want to crumple up the positive quote and stuff it down hard deep in the garbage bin, dig a six foot hole in the backyard to bury the bin in the ground and concrete over it, twice just to be sure…but mostly happy quotes help me stay positive. To each their own.
So I try.
If I worry about whether anything will cause me more pain, I might miss out on doing things that give me joy, give me satisfaction and happiness. Of course I have to be realistic. Skydiving and bungee jumping are out. I get that. So is horse riding and basketball. But cleaning the skirting boards didn’t feel painful at the time. I had knee pads and scooted along on my butt. Had I felt more than the usual pain while doing the work I would have stopped. Sometimes the response is delayed, and then you just have to accept the consequences.
Who you are before you became ill is still who you are after you became ill.
I have always pushed myself to my limits. It’s my nature. It’s just that my limits are ever changing now, and being an optimist I sometimes over estimate my abilities.
In this case it has meant that the family room has been unusable for almost a week, all the furniture pushed into the middle of the room and it’s a total mess. I’ve been in a lot of pain, jobs are stacking up and there has been takeout food and cheese toasties for dinner. And a grocery run by a friend.
Now I’m getting quotes from painters to get someone else to finish the painting. But I’m still trying to get the gardener I hired to come and finish the weeding that she did such a terrible job of. Finding good help is not easy either!
So maybe I’ll try again. I know there will be consequences, so I’ll be sure that the cupboards are stocked before I try again. Or do it in even smaller chunks. A few months ago I painted my bedroom. It took me six weeks to finish it, but I did it. I spent more time washing brushes than painting each day, but I finished it. And it felt like a great achievement.
I still have to be me. I still have to try. And sometimes, I fly.