Something I find very difficult to deal with on this whole path of healing I am on are the days that are not quite great but aren't terrible either. Maybe they aren't awful, or even bad in comparison to my worst days, but yesterday was awesome and today, well...it just isn't, but it feels much worse than it really is because yesterday was so good.
For two days now, I have been virtually pain free. I filled a new prescription for pain meds three days ago and I was so stoked when I didn't need to take them yet. It might sound a little strange to go get pain meds when I'm not currently in pain, but I have my purposes (and they aren't even related to being a junkie!) I have found that the worst feeling ever is hurting and not having anything to take away the pain. The second worst feeling might be knowing that eventually you will start hurting, and also knowing there won't be any relief when it finally hits. It gives me this constant nervous fear that I will become incapacitated at the worst possible moment. It puts a shroud over my mood and eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, I try my best to always keep my Plan B meds at hand for when OTC's just won't cut it.
Just as being afraid of the unrelenting pain prevents me from truly feeling my best, knowing that there is relief available when I really need it gives me a bit of confidence, releases some of the worry, and helps me push through a little longer before I actually need to take meds at all. (I know it sounds like an addict saying that, but I am very careful and there are some risks that must be taken.) My goal is to not have to take any meds at all - prescription or OTC or whatever. The thing is, after 8 years of pretty much consistent pain, I know me and I know what I will be able to tolerate and what I won't.
It is more complex than just whether I am feeling pain or not. Some pain is pretty intense, but it is just pain and I can deal with that. Other times, it is the other symptoms that got along with the pain that make it unbearable even though the pain itself is not that bad. It is those times that I have to be careful and analyze exactly what will help me get back on my feet. It might be fatigue that is causing the pain or the pain that is causing the fatigue so I have to really think to figure out which end to tackle it from. A grouchy mood will almost always accompany either of those situations, and that is really my worst enemy when it comes to being a decent person. It becomes the Perfect Storm for me and I just have to give in and take the meds, and go to sleep, and pray I wake up feeling more human than I did before.
In any case, because I know my limits better than I used to and I am finally receiving a treatment that seems to be working, I actually have more good days and less bad days than I have had in several years. It is the in-between days that are the most difficult. A not-so-great day right after a really good day just seems a lot worse than it is, by comparison. That, unfortunately, can lead to a downward spiral if I give in to the pain too much or get too much rest. However, it can also lead to a future worse day if I overdo things and push myself too far. That is when the true exhaustion takes hold and it becomes difficult to shake it so I can move on.
Today is one of those so-so days when I am trying to balance activity and recovery. I had a good steady pace yesterday. The night before I was called in to work for a few hours, so I made sure to get a little extra sleep in the morning. I was extremely privileged to be asked to babysit for my good friend and it just makes my day whenever I get to do that. Her older son is just a little gentleman a delight to have around because he is very intelligent and talkative for a boy his age. Her youngest is possibly one of the sweetest baby girls I have ever met (that is saying quite a lot coming from me!) She is as smart as her big brother and well ahead of the curve as far as developmental milestones. Besides that she is one of those kids who is unrelentingly adorable but is completely unconscious of it, which only makes it that much better. Getting to play with these two kids is such a joy for me, that it never seems like work.
After a really great afternoon of snuggling babies and a great coffee conversation with their mom, I went with Wonderful Poppa to the grocery store for a few items for dinner. I was inspired to try a new dish for dinner and I had to pick up a few items I don't normally keep on hand. Then, I got a call from my boss asking me to come in to work again. I quick mental check on my overall energy store told me that I would need a nap to make it until 12:00 or later, so after the shopping, I crawled under the covers and WP volunteered to make dinner for us. (Of course, it came out beautifully and all three of my girls enjoyed it and cleaned their plates and asked for more.)
This is where things started to slip, I think. When I laid down for that short nap, I took a preemptive dose of my prescription pain meds, knowing that they would be in full effect by the time I would most likely start really hurting at work. This plan actually worked better than I thought it might. I was able to complete my shift for the first time in about a month (very productively, I might add) without being in an extreme amount of pain. I worked up an appetite, too, so I grabbed a snack on the way home (Jack in the Box after midnight has got to be the best/worst thing in the whole world) and went pretty much right to bed.
This morning, though, I was not feeling nearly as good as I had hoped I would. The pain meds worked so well that they tricked me into working a bit harder and faster than I should. By the time I woke up, the meds had worn off and I was wishing I could just amputate my left arm at the shoulder and be done with it. On top of that, since I ate right before bed, the meds that I take to help me sleep didn't work nearly as well as they should have. I took longer to fall asleep than normal and then I didn't sleep completely through the night like I should have. I was still really tired this morning, even after getting what amounted to a full night's sleep.
So, looking at my list of To Do's today felt like looking at a plan to climb halfway up Mt Everest - not completely un-doable, but certainly more than I felt I could manage. I canceled a few of the appointments I had and decided to stick with the at-home portion of my List so that I could take my time and relax when I needed to. That's when I started to beat myself up, mentally for not pushing myself harder to keep up the pace of the last few days. I don't feel so awful that I need to crawl under a rock and be forgotten, so why am I giving up and giving in?
What I have to keep in mind (and what WP helped me remember this morning) is that the path to becoming healthy is not a straight and steady incline. Some days I am going to make it really far up the hill and I will feel great. Some days I am going to backslide and lose ground no matter what I try. The vast majority of my days will be neither of those. I will make small improvements day by day and I might not even realize I am doing it. Just because one day was super great, doesn't necessarily mean the next will be. Having a slightly worse day doesn't mean I have slid back to rock bottom, though. It is just another day on the path up the hill.