Just in time for the Memorial Day holiday, it's time for a flare. The bad news is, well FLARE. The good news is that I will have 3.5 days to recover from it before going back to work.
I haven't had a flare like this in a long time. Oh- there's the usual spikes and ebbs of stiffness and pain or one illness will flare while the others subside but this one is more of an attack and is definitely all three illnesses working simultaneously. I am sure, beyond a reasonable doubt that I have been overdoing and that kicked this off but I really don't have a choice. People think, as evidenced by the many "When do you close for the summer?" phone calls, that Summer slows down for the bookstore after finals and graduation but it actually kicks up just as our payroll decreases. While Summer classes have begun and traffic in the store is slower, on the back end we took in over 5000 rentals this term that need to be cleaned, picked, packed and shipped to other stores if we are not using them ourselves for Summer or Fall. To that end I processed about 200 transfers (not 200 books, 200 shipments) going out this week. We are also receiving shipments from other stores for our Fall term, receiving Summer 2 books, setting shelves for both terms and processing online orders. While some places shorten their hours for summer, our hours don't change and with less staff, there still aren't enough of hours in a day. That means I (because I am the only one on salary) have been burning the candle at both ends. Quite a bit of stress and lots of physical labor, on top of a lack of sleep from the previously discussed acid reflux would be the precursor to this latest flare.
Initially I thought that my body was just grumbling but I was wrong. The lower back feels like I have a hot poker sticking in it on the right side and the hips are screaming. All of my muscles feel like I have been hit by a truck. The joints in my feet, my ankles, my knees, my elbows and my hands stiffen back up at even minimal rest and protest at any movement the rest of the time. My muscles are so tender that clothes with any weight hurt. My meds are keeping me going but it's so exhausting that I have gotten home from work the last few days and had to nap for an hour as soon as I let the dogs out and back in. Those naps have helped and you know they are needed when they haven't affected my bed time in the slightest.
On one hand, this has been a stark reminder of how my life has changed with autoimmune illnesses. A mere 8 years ago I was working far harder on my feet and doing physical labor and working far more hours than I do now and almost thrived on it. I would go months without a day off and literally work until I dropped, take a few days and then do it again. Now it seems a little too much and I am down for the count. The difference in truly dramatic. It's like I aged 40 years instead of 8.
On the other hand, it's "just" a flare. Whether it lasts a week, a month, a quarter or a year it will subside eventually and for that I can be grateful. Besides, when it comes to pain, not only do I have a very high tolerance (I have been told that my "normal"- which is pretty stable- would put someone without my tolerance in bed for the duration) but I tend to get fairly stoic. I think it's the New England in me but I prefer to not "bitch" about my pain. It doesn't lessen the pain, it doesn't help me feel better emotionally and honestly- who wants to hear it every day? Instead, I function through a pain level of up to 8 or so and I just get slower and quieter. I know some hate this phrase but I truly feel that "it is what it is." There's nothing we can do about it, it's not going away, there is no cure, so why complain? Moreover, the very last thing that I want is pity. I would love if people could understand that I am going through something and that I may not be up to par and that I am doing my best, but I don't want to use my illnesses as an "excuse". I don't ever want anyone to feel bad for me. This is my life. This is the hand I have been dealt and I will play it as best I can so I don't want people to feel bad about it. They didn't cause it, I didn't cause it, it just is.
So now, I will get some things done this weekend but perhaps not everything I want to accomplish. We had hoped to declutter our storage/2nd bedroom but that may not all get done. Knowing now will allow me to reset my frame of mind and in doing so, I will be able to relax more fully. I will work my scheduled half day today and then come home and nap. When I get up, I will see what I feel up to doing but I won't push myself. When I need to, I will stop and rest. That will be the tone of the weekend. I think as long as I keep things in perspective, it will be a good weekend.
“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”
― Og Mandino