One of the biggest problems I have while I’m recovering from being sick is overdoing it the second I feel even a modicum better than before. A week into the flu*, I started feeling a little better. I went to taiji and did a bit of practice. Not much, but by the time I got home after class and grocery shopping, I was exhausted. I was wiped out for the rest of the day, and I felt like shit when I woke up the next morning. I had thought I was being careful, and I had thought I hadn’t overdone it, but I was wrong. I don’t think it’s the taiji part that did me in, but the driving and the shopping. I spent the next week even more worn out than the week before. I started to feel a bit better near the end of the second week, so I went to taii. I made sure to take it very easy, and I only took a few minutes to grocery shop, yet, I was still drained by the time I got home, and I had to spend the rest of the night laid out on the couch.
Another part of the problem is that I have hypothyroidism, which means my auto-immune system isn’t great to begin with. I’ve had bronchitis more times than I care to count, and when I get it, it lingers for months on end. I had it once for nine months, which is enough time to gestate a baby. I haven’t had bronchitis for several years, but I’m still afraid it’s what I’m getting any time I feel the slightest bit ill. This time, however, I knew it was either a cold or the flu. Don’t ask me how I know because I can’t tell you that. I just knew it wasn’t bronchitis, for which I was grateful, but it still felt shitty. In addition, I had just been to my doctor, and we had to adjust my thyroid medication dose. I think I might have gotten sick from going to the clinic (ironic, but often the case), and I had a negative reaction to my new dose of Synthroid**. It had been too high, and she had to lower it. She told me to get it rechecked in six-eight weeks, which meant I had to suffer the repercussions until then.
I have a base temperature of 97.5, but while I was sick, it was much lower than that. In fact, it got down to 93.9, so I decided to buy another thermometer because I was sure my old one was broken. This time, the thermometer read 94.5, and I was pretty sure that was entering the dead zone. I Googled it, and 95 is the threshold for being alive. That was weird to read as I was pretty sure I was alive, and, yet, my temperature said otherwise. I waited and took it later in the day, and it eked its way up to 96.1 or 2. While I was sick, it hovered between 95 and 96.5. I’m not comfortable with the former, but the later is closer to my norm.
It’s strange to feel things happen to my body while I’m sick. Right before I got the flu, I could actually feel something enter my body and make it feel heavy. A week and a half into the flu, I started feeling better, and I thought it was over. Ten minutes later, I felt something else enter my body Instead of just being incredibly weak and tired, I started having a scratchy throat and stuffed nose. Yes, folks, I was leaving flu street and was entering cold avenue. Recovery? Who needs that? I was sick again, and I was miserable. I was alternating between cold and hot, and I was barely moving from the couch. Shadow, my cat, helped me by warming my legs for me. I drank a shit-ton of ginger lemon honey tea, which also helped.
This week, I’m about ninety-five percent recovered. I still have to be careful not to overdo, however, as I’m still liable to tire easily. That’s actually a common occurrence with me regardless, which is also a thyroid problem. I haven’t paid much attention to my thyroid lately because for the last few years, I had maintained the same dose of medication, which lulled me into a false sense of security. I’ve been too cavalier about my thyroid, and I need to do more research into how to maintain my levels better.
I took my temperature this morning when I first woke up, and it was 95.1. I was just on this side of being alive, and the weird part is that I felt hot. That’s actually something that happened while I was sick. Whenever my temp was that low or lower, I felt hot. I’ve read that when you get hypothermia, you actually start burning up. I don’t know why, but I felt that way whenever my temperature dipped below 96. Early this afternoon, I started shivering, so I took my temperature again. 97.1. Very close to normal!
I went to taiji on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Monday afternoon for the first time since I’ve been sick. I overdid it Friday night because once I start practicing, the endorphins kick in. At least that’s my hypothesis for why I feel no pain during practice, and then want to collapse afterwards. It actually reminds me of my first year in college. I used to sleep three-and-a-half hours every night, and when I went home for vacation, I’d sleep for fifteen hours the first night I was home. The body lets you do whatever you need to do at the moment, but you have to pay for it at some point.
As I did my taiji routine this morning, I was very aware that I wanted to do more than I was doing. While I was sick, I pared back my routine. Now that I’m better, I want to do it all, but I know that’s not the right response. If I go gangbusters, I’ll just make myself sick again. This is the biggest lesson that I have yet to learn. When I feel a little better, I think I should be able to do everything I had before. I was extremely frustrated after my car accident because I couldn’t do half of what I used to do. Right before I got sick, I finally felt as if I were at full strength for the first time since my accident which had been six months prior. Now, I’m recovered from the flu, but I still am not strong enough to do my full routine, and that makes me angry. Not angry, actually, but frustrated. I had been able to wear my wrist weights while doing the Sword Form, and now, I cannot.
The petty part of me is thinking, “Why the hell do I even bother trying to take care of my self when I lose any progress I made when I get sick?” Intellectually, I know that I haven’t lost all the progress I’ve made and that I’ll get it back faster this time, but it’s still frustrating. I make less progress in general than other people because I have no energy, so when I lose it, I feel twice as bad. I don’t want to use my hypothyroidism as an excuse, but I am so draggy most days. I wake up tired no matter how much I sleep, and I struggle through the day until it’s time to sleep. Unfortunately, when I lie down to sleep, I’m wide awake. My mind is, but my body is exhausted.
I’ve talked with my taiji teacher about insomnia and how I’ve tried just about everything known to womankind to get better sleep. Lavender baths (allergic), melatonin (doesn’t work), Valerian root (slows down my brain until I want to kill myself), warm milk (doesn’t work), warm bath (relaxing, but that’s it), sleeping pills (can’t wake up), meditation (hate it), dreamcatcher (nothing), and a bunch of other shit. I will say what’s helped the most is taiji, but it’s not an insta-fix, and it’s so incremental, I can only look back over the years and see that my sleep is markedly better now than it had been before I took up taiji. Back then, I used to sleep four hours a night. My sleep was filled with nightmares and I usually woke up once. Now, I sleep six to seven hours a night, wake up twice, but the nightmares are not as intense as they used to be. Instead of dreaming of murder and mayhem, I have anxiety dreams in which I forget the words to a song I need to sing or I haven’t studied for a test or some shit like that. It’s not fun, but it’s much better than finding my best friend’s husband’s murdered body or having to kill my mom who is dressed like a ninja and trying to murder me. I even have nights in which I don’t dream at all, which are the best nights of them all.
I need to be patient with myself, but it’s not easy. I keep measuring where I am now with where I used to be, and it’s hard not to get frustrated that I’m not there. Again, taiji is helpful because my teacher always emphasizes it’s about the journey and not the destination. I’m trying to take that to heart, but it’s slow-going. I’m not feeling that great today. I had the chills earlier, and my nose is dry. It was actually bleeding as I was feeding my cat, but it’s stopped now. I have a bad feeling that I’m getting sick again, and I am NOT happy about it. Not happy at all.
*I’m just going to call it the flu because why not?
**Or the generic equivalent.