Thursday, July 14, 2011

Giving up? Or not? Or both?

I seem to be piloting an odd course between giving up and refusing to give up.

My ability to control my legs is deteriorating. My doctor says I'm not exercising enough. Fine, I won't argue with him... but the action of walking to the garage to look for something, then to walk up the four steps into the house and walk back to a chair, is very difficult. The brief work that I did yesterday, to go up two steps on a step ladder and replace two tiny light bulbs, cost me so much that I had to lie down for hours. And he wants me to exercise? What's that gonna cost?

And yet, I refuse to obtain a big-wheel push-yourself-around-with-your-arms wheelchair. Today my wife pushed me in my walker/transport chair from the car to the restaurant, but I walked myself to the restroom. No big "Dammit, I'm gonna do this myself" determination; just simple, quiet, "No, I'll do it."

I see my acupuncturist every week, on Tuesday. He restores and renews my energy. Briefly. At the moment, I'm doing OK; but I expect to have faded by this weekend... 'cause that's been my pattern for months. I'll be seeing my herbalist in a couple of weeks. He said, the last time I talked about my vague despair-like fog, "We never give up hope here. Take your herbs, stay squeaky clean on your diet, and keep hoping--that's all you have to do." Well, two out of three, I'm doing pretty well with...

I have energy now. I'm going to spend it on creativity instead of on schlepping, even to the small amount of schlepping I'm able to do. I still have ideas--and good ones. Drive, that's what I'm missing. And, I miss that drive, the unquenchable never-ending drive that used to be the sine-qua-non of my expressing-creativity lifestyle.

But, as the Zen saying goes: eat when you are hungry, sleep when you're tired. Well, I'm rarely hungry any more, and I become tired for no apparent reason all too easily.

But I just ate and I'm not tired--at the moment, at least. I have the energy to do something creative--for the moment, at least.

Perhaps there's a Zen saying buried in that, somewhere. If I figure it out, I'll pass it along.


Katja said...

I have energy now. I'm going to spend it on creativity instead of on schlepping, even to the small amount of schlepping I'm able to do.

So when you say "giving up", what exactly do you feel you giving up? Being the person you are? Your creativity? Your loved ones? Your life's work? Or just putting one foot in front of the other?

I remember what it was like being at the stage of the illness that you're in - it seemed so inconceivable that I not keep walking, walking, walking. After all, what was the alternative? Giving up?

And when I did give up, what happened? I received. I received more energy. I received the ability to continue working, to go places with my kids, to do things with my husband. And many years later, I received an appreciation of sports (adaptive sports, yes, but it's still sport), and started to love and understand my body and appreciate it for what it can still do.

I don't mean to make it sound easy. For years after I started using a wheelchair, I was so angry at the world that I'm sure I was a very unpleasant person to be around. But still, it was better than spending all my energy on walking, and not having any left over for anything else.

Peace Be With You said...

Your title says it all. I think I have approached living with this illness with the same consummate singlemindedness that governed my pre-MS life. As in, if I’m going to experience this, I will transmute it into something redemptive. When perhaps what I should do is to just let it be.