It is 6:08 PM on a Friday night. In summer. In the third largest city in America.
I am sitting on my couch, listening to a relaxation playlist on Spotify while my cat kneads my stomach fat.
The excitement of my night will likely be what marinade I choose for the fresh salmon I bought on my way home from work, and what movie I choose on Netflix.
Such has been an accurate description of almost every Friday night I’ve had for the last 5 months.
Sometimes, this is fine. Sometimes I relish in the slow and hazy schedule of not being able to have a real schedule. I tell myself that I am super zen about the whole thing and that I have accepted my current lot in life. That I’m cool with spending age 24, the so-called “prime of my life,” in a health-induced purgatory because “it is what it is.” Sometimes I mean it.
Sometimes, this is really not fine. This week, I had a good day. A day where for most of it, I pretty much forgot I was sick at all. I went grocery shopping, did some cooking, got my nails done, and went to a wonderful dinner with a group of my closest friends. I ate great food on a patio in the warm weather and told stories and laughed and read our horoscopes. I actually found myself thinking, as I walked home, “maybe I’m fine. Maybe this sickness is going away, and I’m being overly-cautious by passing on social plans for fear of making myself worse.”
The next day was one of the worst symptom days I’ve had in a long time. It felt personal–– like a jab from the universe, saying “you think you’re normal? You think you can do all the things a healthy person can do and not pay for it? You can’t. In case you’d forgotten.”
That night, I laid in bed trying and failing at sleep. I was under the assault of a bone-crushing fatigue that made it impossible to do anything but half-way watch Law & Order reruns and stare at my cat until he got unnerved and turned around.
Sometimes, I have a wise thing to say. A piece of advice. Something I’ve learned from my illness. Something being sick has made me more aware of that I’m thankful for.
Other nights, like that one, or tonight, I don’t. I’m just mad, and sad, and sick. Usually I think I’m making my illness more palatable for the universe by adding a happy spin on the end. “My joints hurt so bad I can’t think–– but it’s fine, I’m really getting to catch up on my reading!” I rarely leave it at “Hey–– I feel like a pile of hot garbage today. That is all.” But I figure sometimes, it’s more honest to leave it at that. And if I truly want people to have awareness of what it’s like to live with a chronic illness, I should be honest, right? Sometimes you have a day that doesn’t end with a bright shiny spin of positivity, and that’s okay, too. Your life is not a PR angle, it’s just your life.
So in the spirit of honesty and not sugarcoating: Hey–– I feel like a pile of hot garbage today. That is all.