Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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All in a day’s work

Posted by Oli on Monday 27th November, 2006

A week has passed since I ejected myself from Geoffrey Harris Ward in the Churchill in Oxford and my adaptation process has continued apace, not with 100% reliable or positive results.

I have to confess for all my jaunty little exploits that have made it up on to here, there have been a number of far less jaunty moments, and some which have had me fairly close to tears.

The interesting thing is the pattern into which life has settled over the past 7-10 days since I got back home again.  Oddly, although every day has been different, they all seem to have followed the same arc from morning to night.

First thing in the morning, once sleepiness has subsided and the world is in focus, I feel positive and upbeat and keen for the day ahead.  I wrap my head around the things I want to do for the day and assess what my energy levels are like and what I think I can realistically get through.  Then, after 2 different nebs, a physio session, some breakfast and a shower, I set about whatever it is within the confines of the flat that I’ve set myself to do.

By the early afternoon, it’s time for a recap on the benefits of sleep, and I get my head down for an hour or so, before stirring to do my IVs.  For a patch of about and hour or two after I wake, I’m recovered enough to pursue things I want to do before the early evening, when tiredness boardering on exhaustion begins to settle in and things become a bit more of a battle.

My chest will start to moan and complain about the strain of, you know, breathing for an entire 12 hours without any supplementary support from Neve (as I’ve Christened my NIV machine, thanks to K’s thinking and Em’s bright idea of making things less scary through anthropomorphism). 

 Joining in the fun, my stomach will announce it’s desire to be sated with a sacrifice like some built-in God of Food who will readily close up and not accept offerings should they not be timed appropriately according to it’s very own desire.

As my body protests, so my mind – and my mood – takes a dive.  The tiredness takes over my faculties for divining the logical and illogical in the world around me, the easy questions of everyday life become heart-wrenching, brain-busting trials of wit whereby turning over to Channel 4 can be the sum of a good 15 minutes worth of hard cogitation coupled with inner debate about the relative merits of watching Nothing Very Much on either this channel or that and wouldn’t-it-be-good-if-we-had-Sky thinking.

The spiral continues into the night and I’m plagued mostly  by the fact that I have to stay up until at least 10pm in order to administer my nightly third dose of IVs before I can retire to bed and the warm comforts of Neve.

(If anyone ever here’s me suggest that an NIV machine is either a) warm or b) comfortable or c) in any way vaguely pleasurable, I suspect it has become time to skip the medication and proceed straigh to a padded cell.)

The night’s are the hardest, as my protesting lungs (even after a second, or third, physio session of the day) do everything they can to make getting undressed and ready for bed the biggest chore of the day.  Breathlessness results from the most minor activity and washing my face and brushing my teeth become the greatest amount of exercise I’ve achieved all day.

And as I settle into bed, I have a tendency in my semi-conscious stupor, to dwell on the things my life has lost in the last few weeks and months.

Even now, sitting writing this, I can see how the spiral starts and escalates, I can pinpoint the moments when everything starts to move in the wrong direction and I can see how my thinking patterns work against me almost constantly.

It may, to some, seem as if I’m outlining “a day in the life” for a sympathy vote, or in order to make people reading this understand what I “go through” every day.  That is not my intention. 

What I’ve found with everything else so far in this chronicle of mine is that by writing it down and reading it back, in a public domain where there is no where to hide, I can force myself into examining my thoughts, feelings and actions in a way I never would in my own head.

By illustrating my point as if to someone who knows me not at all, I simultaneously force myself to see things from a different perspective, to get out of my own well of self-pity and understand what’s behind the changes in mood and strategic thinking.

Smile Through It, that’s what it’s all about – and if you know what it is that makes you stop smiling, you can keep your eye out for it and keep it at bay.

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