March 23, 2010

Tired isn’t a word I use lightly.

For years I worked a full time job while getting a few degrees, then teaching as an adjunct professor, sometimes supervising student clubs, and also, you know, having a life. I’d race around the office all day long, then grade papers, then lecture for two and a half hours, maybe do some research, eat dinner at midnight and get up at 7 a.m. the next day and mainline coffee while complaining I was tired.

I did not know what tired was.

I thought tired meant only reading the first and last chapter of a book in order to be able to follow the class discussion but still make time for an extra 2 hours of sleep before the history seminar I needed to graduate on time.

I thought tired meant asking the department to hire a graduate assistant to teach the lab so I could grade papers and still be able to drive myself home without falling asleep behind the wheel.

I thought tired meant needing to throw an extra shot in my latte before lecturing non-physics majors about calculating reverberation time.

I did not know jack about tired.

I was an amateur in the world of tired.

In 2004 I turned Pro.

In 2004 a couple of hereditary inflammatory autoimmune disease came out of hiding and kicked my ass. Eventually, I had to stop working, quit teaching, quit planning on well, being able to make plans. It’s a situation that requires a lot of adjustments.

You know what goes great with tired? Searing joint pain. Together they’re like milk and cereal. Leather and lace. Peanut butter and chocolate. Crocket and Tubbs.

Actually, they’re like none of those things. The new migraine medicine my doctor prescribed has a lot of codeine in it and I strongly suspect it just kicked in.

So what was I saying?

I have no idea.

I just got an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland that stars Gary Cooper, Cary Grant and W.C. Fields and it’s hard to pay attention to this post.

It’s also a situation that comes with a lot of interpersonal frustration. People – no matter how well-meaning, don’t understand how exhausting pain and fatigue are. They say less than helpful things like, “I wouldn’t ever tell anyone I was sick, I can’t afford the damage to my career.” Or, “I get tired too, but I just suck it up.” Or, “If you’d stop eating tomatoes, you wouldn’t be sick.” Or, my personal favorite, “My (mother/sister/imaginary friend/neighbor) had cancer and she had a really good attitude never missed a day of work,” followed by a long pause during which I can only surmise I’m supposed to cheerfully reply, “Well slap my ass and call me Susan! What was I thinking? Thank you so much for helping me see the light!”

Sarcasm, by the way, is not an accepted trait if you’re to accept the role of Saintly Sick Person.

So here’s the deal, being extremely sick gives one lots of blogging material – the ridiculous medical adventures, the various physical therapy modalities, the challenges of keeping your friends and your sanity when life becomes super-unpredictable, and the sometimes bizarre alternative therapy suggestions that well-meaning relatives offer up when you least expect them. (Not that Western medicine can’t be pretty bizarre).

I’m going to withhold any personal details or specific diagnostic information I see fit to withhold but hopefully I can still be useful, engaging, and realistic without waving my underwear in the wind.

I’ve slogged through a lot of the prospects both Western and Eastern medicine have to offer and the results haven’t always been pretty, though some of them have been rather hilarious. Hot yoga? Hot yoga is hot. Very very hot. And it’s not something you should try while wearing hand lotion.