Friday, November 6, 2009

Tough love

Tuesday, I get treated. Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning, I feel great.

Wednesday afternoon, at 1:30 or so, I start to feel nasty run down... Of course I stay at work, poking at the computer. Of course I don't go home and lie down. By 3:30, I can tell that I'm dangerously run down. So, maybe 4:00 or so, I finally go home, actually in pretty horrible shape.

Now, that evening, I did go out to dinner with a dear friend of mine, I was really really grateful for his company and his inspiration. And I even had some interesting ideas on something I've been background processing for a while (more about that, later... I still need to think about it a little more). But I never really left "feeling crappy."

Definitely felt crappy all day Thursday. Felt worse. Significantly worse. Called a local five-element acupuncturist, the person I call when I'm in distress and need acupuncture first aid. I can almost always get in to see her very quickly, much more quickly than I can get into my regular guy on short notice, and it's a fifteen-minute drive over nice city streets rather than an hour both ways over a clotted freeway. (And she was trained by one of his office mates and both my doc and said office mate thinks it's great for me to see her when I'm in distress, so everybody wins.)

Saw her today. Got my Three Heater adjusted, now all my officials are speaking collegially to one another and I no longer feel crappy. Another four-needle miracle. Now, I'm in great shape to play this memorial service tomorrow. (And is that ever another story...)

More important, though, was what we talked about during the treatment. One of my big big BIG problems is "not feeling good enough to get started." Fatigue is a big nasty with MS, that's known all to well to all the sufferers, and it really gets in the way of especially my creativity. Because my biggest complaint is that I feel too crappy to start doing things. (Doing anything, usually.)

She had simple advice: start anyway.

Now, "grin and bear it" and all of its synonyms ("just tough it out," "sometimes you just gotta take one for the team," you know the list) immediately cause me to push back. Hard. Violently. If you're not lucky, enraged violently. It doesn't help that knowing when to respect the fatigue and thumb your nose at the fatigue is a very tricky assessment. And one that still needs work--because sometimes, you really, really need to respect the fatigue. That was definitely one of the lessons I learned this week: when you start to feel crappy, don't just buckle down until you're feeling crappy to the point of self-immolation. Quit, lie down, get away from the goddam machine and take a real break, and start again when you feel better.

But I think I'm going to take a slightly different approach than my acupuncturist's direct approach, the "Whether you feel like starting or not, just start anyway" suggestion... Specifically this dialog:

"I feel too crappy to start."

"Yes, you feel crappy. That's very true. And that is pretty crappy, there's no two ways about that. I really do feel bad for you. I understand. Now, let's start."

First, acknowledge the truth of the feeling. Then move forward. Often, I've found that the still small whiny voice will back off once it knows that it has been heard and acknowledged. Push against it, and it pushes back. But (and I really should have learned this by now, I relearn it daily, if not hourly) againstness is not the path to success with MS.

Or life in general, for that matter.

So, start with the truth. Yes, I feel like going nowhere. Yes, I feel like I have no energy or desire or creativity or anything worth sharing. I really don't want to do this.

That's absolutely true. Every word of it.

Now, let's get started.

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