I’ll Pay For This Later: Adventures In Chronic Illness

My body hates doing things these days. It hates traveling, eating, lifting, going up stairs, drinking, running, stretching, and dancing. Some days, I can’t even convince it to stand up in the shower. I used to work for the conservation corps. Now being a lump is a fact of life.

It’s not so terrible. I can still read and write and watch Netflix. I can socialize online when I’m not well enough to socialize in real life. But every once in a while, the cabin fever overcomes the inertia of chronic illness, and I desperately need to get out of the house.

One of my many doctors recently gave me a prescription for a BIG SERIOUS PAINKILLER, a little white oblong pill that improves my quality of life considerably. It knocks my pain levels down to ‘mildly obnoxious,’ rather than ‘I hate everything and want to exist as a bodiless head.’ It also makes me feel sleepy and drunk. After years of being mostly housebound, being pain-free and dopey as hell may have led to some bad decisions.

For a few short days, I staggered around behaving almost like a normal person.

In one night, I saw Star Wars, hit up a karaoke bar, and went bowling. BOWLING. Some days, I can’t lift the milk jug out of the fridge, but I WENT BOWLING AND I DIDN’T DIE OF PAIN. It was like I’d broken the laws of physics somehow. BOWLING. FUN. UNBELIEVABLE.

I should have stopped there. I didn’t.

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Long story short, the recommended dose of painkillers kept me going on this bizarre living-my-life high for almost three days, culminating in a New Year’s Eve party at a bar a few blocks from Times Square.

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And then I crashed.

Waking up the next morning, I discovered that not only had I completely wrecked my body, which ached from stem to stern, but that the recommendation not to drink while taking painkillers should not be skirted, not even a little bit, not even for bad champagne. I felt like a pile of scrap.

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And days later, despite hydrating and gentle stretching and eating like I’m supposed to, I still feel like someone is going to come along and hang a sign on my neck: “Disaster Area. Stay Clear.”

Was it worth it?

Probably. The demands of my body mean I spend a lot of time inside, in bed, in careful consideration of my health, and while that’s great for my physical health, it’s anathema to my emotional well-being. Sometimes girls just gotta have fun, even if it means a long stretch of recovery.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be in bed until April or so.

7 thoughts on “I’ll Pay For This Later: Adventures In Chronic Illness

  1. You should read the spoon theory. It’s similar to your experience. As a fellow chronic illnesser, I love the spoon theory.

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  2. This sounds so bloody familiar! Chronic pain/illness bites. Then, when you finally manage to have a bit of fun…you pay the piper big time. Drink LOTS of water to flush (pun intended) the toxins away. Do NOT drink alcohol, not even the posh stuff! Not unless you truly want to be devastatingly miserable, and still in pain. Personally, I stick with Hulu and Kindle books (like yours, says Alas Amazon) and leave the partying to healthy folks…damn them!

    Now, off to bed with you!

    Spoon theory? I feel a Google search coming on.

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  3. I cannot express enough how much this is like reading my own life…I too live with and battle a host of chronic illnesses that pull me down and make the simplest of things for most adults be akin to Everest. When the grocery store takes up every spoon for the next few days, when rolling over in the bed you can’t get up from for the day makes you want to cry from the effort and eventually you don’t move at all, when your mind skips and you can’t find the words and the world is fuzzy around the edges and nothing makes sense, when you choke down another medicine that’s supposed to help, when your body surpasses the sanity threshold of pain that won’t relent for days on end, when you’re tired of having to fight just to keep breathing some days…but you keep going, and you occasionally go on those adventures that you know you will be paying for for days, weeks, maybe months later, because this is your life, and you have to live it between the lows.

    What a great memory to cherish. I’m very glad I came across you on Twitter, and look forward to more of your posts. Best wishes.

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      1. It’s heartening to see others fighting a similar struggle and able to continue. It’s hard not to be reminded of the Confucius quote “It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop”.

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