“I don’t like your body language. You’re not yourself,” was the first thing my doctor said as he entered the room. I was slumped in my chair, and I didn’t need a mirror to know I was pale and my eyes were ringed with dark circles. I did not jump up to greet him like I normally do, and I did not talk quickly or with animation like I normally do. Also, I did not contradict him; I didn’t like my body language, either.
(Apparently, this is what six months of virtually continuous infections will do to a patient’s posture.)
“What’s on your mind? You’re not yourself,” my husband said to me one night as I closed my laptop and stared listlessly at the television, trying to ignore the clutter of the “sick camp” that had taken over our living room: nebulizer and pill bottles fighting for space with stacks of research books, student papers, and half-empty mugs of tea. I was tired of typing while lying down.
(Apparently, this is what six months of virtually continuous infections will do to the coffee table.)
“Are you sure you’re alright today? You’re just not yourself,” my mother said to me in a quiet corner of an otherwise crowded baby shower. She delicately inquired if I was wearing any blush (hint: you need some) and pointed towards the table where I could sit. As I made my way across the room, more than one surprised person said to me: “Oh wow, you’re here. You never make it to showers or events.”
(Apparently, this is what six months of virtually continuous infections will do to my ability to be reliable.)
I do not have direct confirmation from the students I fear I have been short with, the clients and many others still waiting for responses from me somewhere out there in cyberspace, or the friends whose calls I’ve missed or plans I’ve cancelled, but I’m willing to bet they’d agree with this assessment that I am not myself.
Not to get all meta on you, but even here on this blog I feel as though my voice has been slightly off; more cursory and more willing to point you to other places for interesting material rather than being a destination for the discussion itself.
Now, as a general rule I find the term “not myself” a bit vague and useless—how can I be anything other than myself? But the point is well taken; I am not acting as I normally do (or talking, sitting, thinking, and basically getting through the day as I normally do.) I admit it.
For one, I am fragmented. This is something I hear from so many people right now, and I’ve noticed it on several blogs the past few weeks—people taking a break from blogging, or taking a break from commenting and reading, or disconnecting from everything for a bit because there is too much going on. Seems like so many people are taking on more projects and extra work with less time and energy to do it all.
In my world, the freelance deadlines, the huge research project, the class prep and essay grading, the student e-mails (and phone calls!) late at night and early in the morning, the presentations and speaking engagements, and the many other things constantly piling up equal working seven days a week. But I know that while the work details themselves may be different for others, the end result is the same: we’re all being pulled in several different directions.
Usually, though, I thrive on this kind of juggling. This is how it’s always been, and I’ve always thought of it as multi-tasking, not being fragmented.
So what’s different? I just haven’t had the energy to fully engage in most of the things I need to do. “It takes so much energy to simply get through the day and get home that there’s nothing left for anything else,” I told my husband.
I’ve been blaming it all on the long winter here in Boston, sort of joking when I do. But it’s the truth—no winter is ever good for me, but the months from September through right now have been an unusually bad few months. Nothing exotic or hugely interesting, which is why I’ve been hesitant to write about it much, just one infection after another after another after another. Ad infinitum, it seems. In almost seven months, I’ve gone a whopping nine days between infections.
(I’m tempted to say I have the immune system of a gnat right now, but knowing little about gnats, I’m worried that may not be as helpful an analogy as I’d hoped.)
Again, none of this is unexpected in people like me; for whatever reason, this year has just been more virulent. (Ha! Pun somewhat intended). And it took me several months to see for myself how much of my energy was diverted away from other things in my life and consumed by fighting off infections.
So maybe it’s not that I’m fragmented so much as I am currently doing too many things for the altered supply of stamina I have.
Or am I splitting hairs here?
Anyway, I think things are turning around (ignoring the 30-degree weather today, of course). I’m starting to feel better, and my doctor and I have an official plan to try and get me through the next few months. Oh, how I do love me a good plan. I am encouraged by this, and I am confident I can get past the nine-day mark soon. I am not as stressed by the pile of things to do because I’m actually able to chip away it.
And winter? It’s officially over. Now I just need the lungs to get the memo, and we’re all good.
(Apparently, this is what two virtually continuous days of feeling okay will do for a soul.)
Thanks for waiting.