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myself to listen to my body a little better…again. So I was in the hospital again last week. As you may already know, managing chronic illnesses is all about the balance. While I’ve gotten quite good at telling the flare forecast after 20 years, I still slip up every now and then.
It wasn’t even a huge event that triggered it, but the miserly impact of a week’s worth of sleeplessness. As I didn’t have many appointments that week, I figured that the ‘healthier’ option was to wait it out without the help of medications. Sometimes burning mental or physical energy helps, so the day before I had a mega flare, I was up from 5am until midnight keeping myself busy. Yet sleep was still elusive. When you haven’t had a major flare for awhile, you tend to forget that yes, it’s possible to end up in hospital for no good reason again. Anyway I’ll elaborate in another post as this recent stay has reminded me of many other important lessons as well.
my limited edition spoon supply. With that, everything in my daily todo list that I stress over (for no good reason, really), went out the window without second thoughts. That was another important reminder to stop sweating the small stuff. Nothing bad is going to happen if I don’t do them, yet the senseless worry accumulates to impact my health negatively.
I struggle to relax, as ironic as that sounds. I like running on adrenaline. Before I fell ill, one of my favourite feelings was working on a project for days on end with barely any sleep. We’d work all the way until 10am the next morning, go home for a nap, then do it all over again. I’d end up getting high on tiredness (yes that’s a thing). Looking back that was foolish, because now I understand just how toxic stress is for the body, even for a healthy person. People with chronic illnesses are just more sensitive to its effects.
Despite having all the time in the world to arrange my schedule as I wish, I struggle with pacing myself. I can easily spread myself thin, but not spread myself thick, if you get what I mean. Perhaps it is a matter of habit and discipline. Thinking about it, slowing down requires more discipline than speeding up. The latter can be motivated by fear, but the former requires a constant, conscious choice.
and not struggling to sleep. Back to the topic of sleep. I need to learn how to surrender to it like in the good old days. If you came from a time before smartphones, I’m sure you remember shining a torch light under the covers to read a book, or simply counting sheep, or playing word games in your head to entice the dark blessing of sleep. That’s definitely healthier than scrolling through social media, both on a physical and mental level.
I read an article which highlighted an interesting problem about sleep hygiene. We tend to treat it like a goal these days. A target to be met. But sleep isn’t something to conquer, and shouldn’t be a task on the todo list. It would be nice to surrender myself into the arms of sleep like when I was a child, without any formulations such as, ‘I must fall asleep before X a.m.’, or ‘I need at least Y hours of sleep’. It shall be treated with respect, the quietest time of day to allow my mind and body the space to let go and be free.
my regular diet. I’ve discussed this with my partner, and we’ll start working with a nutritional therapist once I’m feeling better. I’ve avoided manipulating my dietary intake too much due to Antiphospholipid Syndrome. Many beneficial herbs, supplements or foods can easily mess my blood up, leading to deadly blood clots or internal bleeding. But I’ve also gained more knowledge over the decades, so I think we can start working on nutrition slowly.
I do have time to cook, but I don’t enjoy it. My other bad excuse for eating poorly is the convenience of food deliveries and takeaways in Singapore. You can get food delivered at all hours of day, sometimes within 15 minutes. Like I said, these are bad excuses, which aren’t valid if I care about my long term wellbeing 🙂
Oh and another thing that I’m working on are my writing skills! I signed up for Catapult’s “4-Week Online Nonfiction Bootcamp: Writing Personal Essays with Substance”. The instructor is Lily Dancyger, who is the Deputy Editor of Narratively, which is one of my favourite online magazines.
I love to read first person real life stories that flow like a novel, but it’s a genre I struggle with. The programmer in me emerges to classify and assess the accuracy of every little detail. I hope to apply what I’ll learn from this course to my own life stories for this blog (and perhaps for a book?!) 😉
with grief and life. Finally, to my surprise, it seems like I’m still affected by the death of my dear parrotlet, Archer, and his five little chicks. Every morning when I wake up to check on my other birds, my first thought is, “are they alive or dead?”. Not exactly a normal ‘parental concern’, I don’t think, but parrotlets do go fast due to their diminutive size.
Grief is also something that ebbs and flows, and isn’t reserved for solely human beings. It could be a pet, an object, or even a circumstance that we grieve for. There are important spaces within our hearts that we hold for things that mean the world to us; they’re like thumbprints for no two spaces are ever the same. They shift and shimmer, reshape and change over the years. Sometimes these special spots can never be replaced, and remain empty forever. But love is like a soothing wave that rolls across the vast ocean of our hearts. Sometimes the holes are awash with the beauty of our memories, and at other times they’re left void. But the awareness of that space remains, no matter what state it’s in.
Thank you for reading, and I hope to read your responses for June’s prompts too! Click here to submit your own entry, and to read about what others are up to as well!
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