Archives for posts with tag: the common cold

All weekend it’s been a matter of choices – choices to care for myself, or choices that were less about that and more about getting some specific task handled. No surprise – these concepts come into conflict regularly. I have managed to choose self-care more often than other things, mostly, and I feel as if, mostly, I am sort of mostly getting over this once-a-sore-throat-now-something-more-about-a-nasty-hacking-cough-and-shortness-of-breath. I face choices again. Do I commit to getting my ass up early tomorrow and dragging myself into the office choking on my own snot, or do I properly care for myself as an adult, aware that I could be contagious, and ew gross – pretty sure no one wants to listen to me coughing all day – and make the choice to call out? I’ve been thinking it over for a while.

I finally have to come to terms with one of adulthood’s mighty challenges; I have responsibilities I am not able to delegate, so… either I say “fuck it, you’ll all get by, see you Tuesday, folks”, or… work from home. Okay. I’m right in that sickness median between too sick to care (and therefore easily able to just call out) and getting well enough to go in (in which case, capable of some work)… I’m fortunate that I have the option to work from home, and I go ahead and make that choice. It feels good to take care of myself. I pause for a moment of compassion, regret, and even anger that there are hard-working people out there, everywhere, who literally can not afford to call out from work, however sick they may be. That’s just not right.

Working in the environment I do, I am very aware of the business consequences over time of productive hours lost to contagion in a confined area. I see it every year. I see well-meaning folks attempting to make the “right” choice coming in to work when they are likely to be contagious, because they don’t want to, or can’t financially afford to, miss work, and getting everyone they talk to exposed, everyone who touches a surface they touched exposed, everyone who passes through air space into which they sneezed or coughed exposed – and a goodly percentage, in a short time, will themselves either call out, or work at reduced productivity while infecting colleagues. I try to be very mindful myself that contagion lasts longer than we realize, often beginning before we know we’re ill, and lasting some time after we feel “mostly over it”. Working from home tomorrow is a good choice… it still took me hours to make that choice and feel confident I am doing the right thing – which is hilarious. I still have to work so hard at taking care of me. It’s worth practicing, though. 🙂

This weekend has been all naps and chicken broth, rest and self-care, good nutrition, and attending to my  health. Being sick leaves me exhausted and anhedonic, lacking in appetite, soaked in ennui. I know it will pass. I have done little and still feel wrung out and overworked. I’ll get over it. I keep drinking water, tea, broth… trying to drown the virus or steam it out. lol I simultaneously feel grateful to live alone (no cranky interactions), but also deeply lonely (to be cared for like a child home sick from school). I am exhausted, and also bored. I am restless, but so tired I’d rather nap than do anything at all. It sucks and I will be glad to be done with it. lol Maybe I’ll be over it tomorrow? Well… if nothing else, tomorrow I can begin again. 🙂

I’m still sick, and it is sort of pissing me off (along with just feeling poorly). I mean, it isn’t that bad, right? Just bad enough to keep me feeling fairly under-the-weather, fatigued, and out-of-sorts dealing with symptoms. I get over the headache, the sore throat gets worse. The sore throat isn’t so bad? Well, the sinus congestion is worse. Got the sinus congestion mostly managed? No problem, how about we move this crap into my chest and add a cough? I guess I wasn’t surprised by the return of the headache, the swollen glands, or the utter lack of deeply restful sleep, which persists. Who the hell decided we needed to be meat puppets of all things?? Highly inefficient. Prone to illness, and all manner of breakdowns. :-\

I grumble through my shower, yoga, my morning coffee, and even a restless attempt at a morning walk around the block, which got me to the end of the driveway. (I really “needed some air”. The fresh air felt lovely, but I am too sick to take any sort of long walk.) Meditation, like sleep, works out less than ideally well.

On my way in to the office, I’ll stop by the doctor’s office and lab, and have a properly credentialed adult provide an opinion; it’s rare that I’m sick more than a day or two, and this is day 4. I remind myself that it is more than likely what I thought it most likely to be initially, just this year’s newest strain of ick going around. Common enough in my work environment. This being the case does not stop the circumstances from being incredibly annoying; I have weekend plans. 😦 The closer the weekend gets, the less likely it seems that those plans will live to see real life in action. Yes, hell yes, I am disappointed. Sort of. Almost. I’m just sick enough to also mostly not actually care any time I think of sleeping, sleeping in, going back to sleep, napping, resting, lying down… Yeah, I’m totally sick.

I may not write tomorrow. The desire to sleep in today almost got me to reset the alarm for later. Tomorrow I might follow through on that, since I clearly need more sleep right now. I’m too sick to have much to say that has any lasting value, the writing is habitual, and part of “who I am”, I sit down to it each day mostly without even thinking about it, or planning to. It is a commitment. A compulsion? A practice.

Tomorrow, I’ll probably just begin again. 🙂

The map is not the world. The plans I make are not the life I live. The calendar in front of me is more a… suggestion. I don’t tend to view it that way very often; my calendar seems so ‘real’ when I make plans. For example, today my calendar tells me that I’ve a date planned with my traveling partner, and that I am hanging out with friends tomorrow morning-ish, and grabbing lunch together. I am spending the weekend camping – my calendar says so, and I’ve the reservation number for my space and the address of the park right there in the event details. So… how is it that I’ve started today with this head cold that does not appear anywhere on my calendar, and is not accounted for in any of my planning? Seriously? It seems ages since I was last sick… why now?

I noticed my stuffy head when I woke up at 1 am, for no obvious reason. The room felt hot, and my mouth was very dry. At 3 am, I still hadn’t fallen back to sleep; my stuffy head was making me snore, and my own snoring was waking me every time I started to drift off. I got up and wandered around in the dark long enough to take preferred symptom-treating cold remedies, have a big class of water, and blow my nose. I slept some, woke again, slept a bit more, getting up for coffee at more or less my usual time…which I may not finish. I will probably go back to bed, whether I finish it or not. I make a point of putting boxes of tissues here and there, where they will be most convenient. I get all the cans of chicken soup from the pantry shelves, and stack them on the kitchen counter. I find the exertion tiring on a level that re-confirms that I am ill. Like a child or a puppy might, I sink to the floor where I am, there in the kitchen, ‘just for a minute’ because I feel woozy and weak for a moment; I doze off, head back against the cabinet door, feet stretched out, a bit like a rag doll left behind, forgotten. What a fragile vessel this is.

Camping will have to wait; being ill is best managed in comfort.

Camping will have to wait; being ill is best managed in comfort.

My snoring startled me awake, and I feel appreciative this time; had I slept in that position for any time, I’d likely h ave awakened with a crick in my neck that would have added additional pain to the experience of a common cold. lol I get off the floor. I take my coffee with me into the studio to cancel the camping reservation – someone else will want that great spot. It’s a good weekend for camping…or seemed so yesterday. Today I stare unenthusiastically out the window near my desk. I ache all over. I’m tired. I push through all that and message my partner; he’s not going to want to get sick, I’m pretty certain of that. I message my friends – I doubt they want to get sick either. My tinnitus is more engaging than birdsong this morning. My coffee seems flavorless, pointless, and uninteresting; I’ll make myself swallow it before I return to bed, to avoid the headache later if I don’t.

Why bother writing about being sick, though? We’ve all been there… It’s a thing we go through. Well… A.) Why not? B.) I started writing, so… I’m writing, and this is the experience I happen to be having.  And C.) It’s also a different experience of having a cold than used to be typical for me, which is unexpected. I don’t feel vaguely threatened, frightened of sleeping, vulnerable to attack, uneasy, anxious, or awash in wild uncontrolled emotions; these are experiences that once characterized being sick [for me]. I’m just sick with a head cold. Incremental change over time. Learning to take better care of the woman in the mirror, and this fragile vessel, making myself a high priority day-to-day, and treating myself generally well finds me defaulting to a very difference experience of being ill. No tantrums (so far). No inexplicable anxiety (so far). No giving in to poor self-care (so far). No lashing out unexpectedly at other people as if to blame them for the experience and inconvenience of being ill (so far). My health is better these days and improved overall self-care has resulted in many fewer experiences of being sick. I feel like crap today, and I’m irked to be faced with my weekend plans unraveling, but for now, I feel mostly pretty grown up about it. Nice change in experience.

I ache all over. Sitting up, writing, my head is less stuffy (oh, right – cold medication!)…but I ache, and sitting upright actually feels like… work. My coffee is cold enough to just drink, so I do. My head aches, and my ears are ringing (more than usual, some medications do that). I’ve no enthusiasm for birdsong this morning. Today is a good day to take better than usual care of this fragile vessel. I check the battery on my Kindle (although I know I am not actually going to read), and grab a box of tissues. Today I go back to bed; everything that isn’t taking care of me can wait, including camping, romantic evenings, and hanging out with friends.

It’s not a demand, really. “Always do your best” is the fourth of the Four Agreements. I keep coming back to it, however many learned tomes I immerse myself in, however many notes I take, or cross-references I make, however many relevant observations or light bulb moments come to me from hours of study, or therapy. I regularly find myself considering, again, the Four Agreements.  (My traveling partner had recommended The Four Agreements, a few weeks into our association, and before we were lovers. I often think of him with love when I am reading it.)

The basics, and a good starting point.

The basics, and a good starting point.

If I had truly mastered these, would I face so much struggle? Would I have hurt so much for so long? If they were nothing more than saccharine platitudes, would I find renewed relevance so frequently, or so often find myself thinking ‘yes, of course’ in contemplation of a missed opportunity to practice one or more of these simple ideas?

I have suggested, and shared, and gifted this small book so many times… As with anything else, there is a verb involved, and the will, choices, and actions of the individual. I think there is a relevant ‘old saying’… how about ‘you can lead a person to knowledge but you can’t make them think’? Oh that’s not it, is it? It’s ‘lead a horse to water…’, but not so very different, truly. 🙂 We don’t live each others lives, and ideally we don’t make each others choices, or undercut each others opportunities for growth; it’s nice to have help once in a while, but the life we live, the path we walk, the choices we choose belong to us alone. A person can read The Four Agreements as many times as they care to, and never benefit because they chose differently, or did not act on what they read. We have the amazing freedom to choose poorly, any time, to be short-sighted, to hold on to grievances, to struggle, to hold on to resentment; we choose who we are. We create our experience.

A rainy day flower. Beauty needs no excuse.

A rainy day flower. Beauty needs no excuse.

Yesterday, in spite of being ill, was a very pleasant day. It was a pleasant day in spite of one partner having to come home to work because construction noise in the office was so significant it was causing major stress. It was a pleasant day in spite of my traveling partner being very focused on preparing for the next trip away. It was pleasant in spite of the rain, and in spite of the headache. We made good choices, and treated each other well. Sure, I’d like not to be sick, but being sick did nothing to diminish the lovely day, yesterday.

Yesterday, maybe because I am ill, I also had a serious nightmare – terrifying enough to launch me from my bed, all my bed clothes in hand, body pillow clutched to me, cowering in the corner, against the back of the bedroom door when my nearest partner came to check on me, having heard the bang of my frightened self slam into the door, or the wall, whimpering. I don’t recall the dream now, only the sense of tremendous relief when my open eyes began to see, and I was safe in my room, my partner gently soothing my fear with tender touches, and soft words reminding me where I was in the moment, and that all was well.  As fatigued as I felt, it was hours before I could persuade myself to try sleep again, and strangely my bed just didn’t ‘feel right’ after that, until I woke this morning, quite comfortably and on time, a tad amused that I’d forgotten to set my alarm at all, and that it didn’t really matter.

There is a part of me that is curious what the nightmare was about. There is a wiser part of me who understands that doesn’t matter at all, and the kinder choice for my experience is to let it go.

What is 'enough'?

What is ‘enough’?

Today is a good day to listen well, really listen, without waiting to speak. Today is a good day to do my best, and understand with compassion that most people generally are doing their best, as well. Today is a good day to avoid making assumptions; assumptions are only stories we tell ourselves, and they have a lot of power to cause needless suffering. Today is a good day to ‘be impeccable’ with my words, using them well and with kindness, and understanding that clarity does not require callousness, or cruelty.

…In sickness and in health…

Life's simple glory, complicated, simple, strange, wonderful, new or familiar; it matters every bit as much as it doesn't matter at all.

Life’s glory, complicated, simple, strange, wonderful, new or familiar; it matters every bit as much as it doesn’t matter at all.

This is a pretty fragile vessel I occupy. Backaches, tendonitis, headaches, sore feet, bumps, bruises, bad days, and…head colds; being human isn’t pain-free, convenient, or particularly easy some days. Today is one of those, and I do indeed have a head cold. Worse, I have a head cold on the handful of days that my traveling partner is visiting home. I have a cold instead of hugs and lovemaking, because I choose to take responsible steps to prevent the spread of illness, where I can. I find employment, generally, in call centers. It’s humble enough work for an analyst, and head colds go with the territory – in fact, I have numbers on that, and some trending. lol  Love isn’t hindered by a head cold, though, and I enjoy the companionship of my partner in spite of it.

Annoyingly enough, this is also an extraordinarily busy week at work; as much as I’d like to, taking the day off to be sick isn’t an option. From my perspective, neither is getting all my coworkers sick, however trivial the illness, so I am working from home today – for as long as I can bear to toil over numbers. Every choice we make matters, in some context or another, to our own experience, or to someone else’s. My sleep was disturbed and restless last night and I woke from some surreal dreaming meditation on this particular strange thought; it all matters so very much, and it’s so interconnected, I lose sight of how irrelevant and unimportant any one detail really is. Perspective, balance…and the strangeness of the observation that ‘the opposite of what you know is also true‘. Is it? Isn’t it? Certainly it is an idea, for me, that sparks contemplation on perspective.

What we face, what we turn away from; we choose the world we see.

What we face, what we turn away from; we choose the world we see.

I can focus on the head cold if I choose, certainly it tends to be in the forefront of my thoughts and awareness this morning, or I can choose to be aware, awake, and observant of other details. The taste of my coffee, the trickle of the aquarium in the stillness of dawn, behind me, the internal glow of being well-loved, the moody gray sky outside my window…being present and in the moment, for me, still involves choices; what do I attend to, and what do I turn away from? For a lot of my life, I have ‘turned away from’ myself, and anything else I could turn away from, that built on ancient pain. I didn’t understand that by ignoring myself and my own needs, by showing myself no compassion, by disregarding my hurts in life and treating myself callously I was teaching myself that this was an acceptable way to behave towards others, and that it was also acceptable for them to treat  me poorly. It set up a see-saw of emotional abuses over time, many of them self-inflicted through assumptions, thinking, and internal story-telling that have done a lot of damage to my relationships, and my own experience of life, and myself.

Lately, I am making it a point to treat myself well. I don’t mean lavishing myself with expensive trinkets, costly vacations, or inflating my ego; that doesn’t work for me, personally. I am learning better habits about treating my heart well, though, and studying the neuroscience of emotion, practicing nurturing behaviors, learning self-compassion…and the results are more valuable than sparkly jewels, by far.  As with meditation, there’s a verb involved and practicing requires actual practice. Having a head cold, I rather expected it would be pretty easy to treat myself well…but being human isn’t really different just because I am feeling ill, and the requirement to be aware, present, mindful, and making choices that meet my needs are over time still requires small, continuous acts of will. It is, admittedly, harder to care when I feel ill…but surely in that case it matters even more to make the effort?

We create beauty by seeing it, we create love by loving; so much of who we are is what we choose to be.

We create beauty by seeing it, we create love by loving; so much of who we are is what we choose to be.

So. Yeah. I have a head cold. I’ll try not to be cross or irritable. I’ll choose to treat myself and others well, in spite of feeling poorly. Today is a good day for choosing wisely. Today is a good day for kindness and consideration. Today is a good day to change the world.