It is hard to undo a lifetime of bad habits. For most of my years on the planet, I favored the power-through method of life management, recklessly using whatever tools I had at my disposal, caffeine, various unregulated pharmaceuticals, my considerable will, to do so. It's a dangerous combination, that mix of stubbornness and not-enough-ness that many of us seem to be gifted with. Very easy to do yourself considerable damage without even realizing you're doing it.
And now, heading into Week Four of being laid low by some virus/bug/whatever, my own stupidity is clanging madly in that space between my ears. Why did I think it was a good idea to hit the gym twice last week when I needed a cup of coffee each time to do it? Why do I say "yes" to yet another project/outing/favor when most days I'm too tired to wash a sinkful of dishes? And mostly, Why am I not well? Why me? What did I do to deserve this?
Well, I know exactly what I did, how long I did it for and even why I chose to do it in the face of all reasonable evidence that I should not. People with weakened immune systems cannot get away with the kinds of shenanigans that people with healthy immune systems can. Period. And yet I insist upon trying to sneak one more infraction by my poor, hobbled body, one more class, one more meeting, one more cocktail with a friend. So, to paraphrase a thousand woo-woo wits, I will continue to receive the same lesson in different forms until I choose to learn it: Crohn's disease, the cold that won't go away and perhaps (oh, please, God, no) ME/CFS.
That would be the chronic fatigue disorder that Michael Nobbs was diagnosed with back in 1999. It crept up on him like the Crohn's crept up on me, but apparently, he kept on pushing through it for a few more years before he hipped himself to the reality that he might have to slow down a bit. I don't mean to sound superior, here; if wasting, fever and shitting two pints of blood hadn't kept me tethered to my bed, I'd have been pushing, too. (And in my way, I pushed, too, believe me.)
Anyway, I've a cold now (as the Brits would say), and have had (as they'd also say) for going on four weeks. I get a little better. I run out and do a million things. I get a little worse. I collapse, then rouse myself with a cup of drug-of-choice (coffee or tea, depending). I run out and do a million things. I collapse and retreat. Cancel everything. Rest. Feel a wee bit better. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I wonder if I've been out and about just a bit too much and am finally paying for it. I've got a cold which seems to have gone to my chest. I'm hoping it won't last. I've been enjoying my regular visits to the outside world so much of late and don't want to have to give up on them again. No reason to of course. Everyone gets colds. They come and go. It's just I'm always very nervous about a complete health downturn and am hoping this won't be one.
Is it any wonder I fell in love reading his blog? I mean, if the wonderful drawings (that so remind me of the late, great, Louise Fitzhugh's) weren't enough, his deceptively simple, bell-clear descriptions of his heart's map would.
I've remarked on my obsessive crushes before; this time was no different. Greedily, I burned through much of Michael's site. Then I ordered a picture. Then I ordered his journal, which arrived yesterday, and which I greedily burned through in about ten minutes. Now I'm re-reading it slowly, the way Michael created it. Call it my zen meditation for today. Since the journal is so delightful, it's not a particularly effortful practice, which makes it a useful meditation for a hard-ass like myself.
I love the Internet. I lose hours here, not minding, stumbling upon interesting sites like Michael's that introduce me to even more interesting people, places and things. I also like the mirrors they hold up for me, complete with wonderful life hacks for crazy folk who have a tough time learning our lessons.
You will be doing Michael a solid if you buy his journal. It is hard enough earning a living sometimes when you are well enough to work; for the ill, it becomes exponentially more difficult. But really, you will be doing yourself a favor as well.
And me. Because I want The Beany to be so successful, the next issue comes out in colo(u)r.
All images © 2002-2004 Michael Nobbs