The Ride of My Life

It was finals week for my corporate finance class. I was hanging on to my A by my pinky finger, desperate to squeeze by, but the angst of finding variances, determining interest earned on investments, and finding internal rates of returns was beginning to make my knees buckle. Some things I give my all at and succeed. Others, I give my all and just have to live with the results that come. It’s not failure, but it’s not to my liking either. This finance class was one of those impossible, but not failed at, things.

Stress started to mount as well, as it usually does in life. Bills have to be paid, deadlines have to be met, and work always requires something more. My head was in a million different places as well as nowhere at all. I felt like I wasn’t getting much done beyond writing notes of things to do and hardly checking things off. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday flew off the calendar leaving me with Friday, the only day a week I work outside of my home and also the day before my final was due. I was exhausted and used up, yet somehow, I managed to get through my four hour lecture, look after my daughter, and have my work submitted on time. My head hit the pillow on Friday night with intentions of keeping my body dormant for at least six months, but a small synapse went off when I realized the plans my husband and I had for Saturday. All day plans. Plans that had been paid for with money that could not be returned. I shed a misty tear over the clear divorce that had been served up between me and my beloved rest.

I charged through Saturday on a jittery caffeine high. I was pinging all over the place, but it was either that, or fall asleep in the middle of things. I needed to be alert, so I did what I had to do. I was so glad for the end of the day to arrive as I tucked Kennedy into bed at home and whispered prayers that she’d sleep uninterrupted. I was hazy, a little unsteady, mind fried. I figured the night of rest ahead would help me to recover. Then Sunday came, and I felt the same. Then Monday came, and I felt the same. Tuesday. Wednesday – a marked dizziness was descending on me. My mom picked up Kennedy on her way home from work so that I could try to recover sans baby. Thursday was worse. I took a break from chopping myself up mentally for not being around for my daughter to secure the first available appointment at my doctor’s office. Sadly, it wasn’t until the following Wednesday. Friday, it was worse yet. I stood to write on the board of my classroom and forced myself to sit down before I went crashing into the first row of desks. I left work early, and my husband took me to the urgent care. Urinalysis was normal. Pregnancy test was negative. “There’s nothing more we can do for you at this point,” said the nurse. Thanks for your help, and enjoy that expensive ass copay. I joined Kennedy at my parents’ home where I could rest under supervision. Walking up and down the stairs of my house was becoming dangerous as the dizziness became worse upon standing, more turbulent with walking, and violent when walking and elevation combined. At this point, my arms were also weak, and I felt tingling in my hands and feet on occasion.

I sat on a speedy merry-go-round, spinning, whirling, constantly moving. Conductor, please let me off.

“You need to rest!” my father said to me, over and over. No amount of rest was recharging me. I slept for nearly six hours during the day on Saturday only to wake up feeling tired still.

“You need to eat…” my mother insisted, which has pretty much been her answer for everything that happens to me since I was in high school. In her mind, the reason I was so sick in my first trimester of pregnancy was because I didn’t eat. (I didn’t want to eat. Food smelled awful at 10 weeks pregnant!) I was eating. I love food. Neither of these areas were the source of my problem.

I stayed with my parents until Sunday night, then returned home, determined to figure out a way to cope with what was looking to be my new norm.

I had to move slowly all the time. Trying to be brisk just made my symptoms worse. Sitting down or stepping down or lying down was like an earthquake. I reminisced on my days as a college senior when I was surfing on a regular basis, for going to bed was much like riding a giant, king-sized mattress board. Swaying, rocking, moving – it was a joy to go off to bed with. I tried to maximize on the small edge of energy I had at the beginning of the day to get grading, cooking, and studying done so that I could ease off to bed once night fell. Kennedy’s usual fun bath time was reduced to a quick sponge off and straight into the crib so that mommy didn’t have to lift her too many times before bed. I cherished Fabian’s days off as an extra set of hands and arms to push, pull, and tie. Washing my hair in the shower was nearly hazardous, but I refused to walk around with dirty hair. On Tuesday night, I dropped to my knees at my bedside and tearfully prayed that if this was to be my new life, I could at least get some answers from the doctor the following morning. I couldn’t let this, whatever it was, take me over without even getting to know its name. Thyroid disorder, diabetes, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, whatever, just tell me! Just as we have a right to face our accusers, I feel we have a right to know firsthand what’s truly bringing us down.

My plucky new doctor offered no definite answers at my visit, but did offer up a host of suggestions and insights about exertion and fatigue, as well as answered my questions about dietary choices. She scribbled on her doctor lady notepad and walked with me to the lab to have blood drawn. Normally, I tremble at the thought of having blood taken (Tons of bad experiences. I still have a mark on my left wrist from where they botched my IV while I was hospitalized for preterm labor in 2013) but I was grateful for it this time. A sweet medical assistant took three vials from me, I paid my less expensive copay, and I went home to wait until Friday for the results. In the interim, I dropped chicken, beef, and pork from my diet and purchased new iron, B12, and calcium supplements from Earth Origins.

One line echoed in my mind those next few days: “You have to allow time for recovery…” She said it at least three times during our visit. I hadn’t been through battle. I’d long since given birth to my baby. I wasn’t in an accident. Recovery from what, lady?!

Then, Friday came.

Thyroid, kidneys and liver: normal. Blood count: normal. Diabetes: none. B12 and folate: low. “Are you giving yourself time to recover?” she asked after listing my results. “I’m trying to,” I replied. Shit. Maybe she was on to something…

I had started going to bed earlier the night before, but was bound to stick to my new “bed time” moving forward. I kept up the supplement regimen in the mornings, but added an extra B12 at night to see if anything would change. I spent more time in the kitchen playing with things like soy sauce, broccoli, carrots, and tofu in my saucepan for meals among other things like quinoa oatmeal, meatless tacos, and thick green smoothies.

I started chronicling everything in my planner – appointments, bill amounts and due dates, homework assignments (for me and for my students), to-do lists, you name it. I didn’t want to have to think about that stuff too much. It’s a reliance measure, sure, but it also frees my brain space for other things.

I upped my H2O intake, which upped my bathroom usage.

I cranked my Aroma Ace to diffuse lavender and jasmine essential oils in our bedroom for more restful sleep. I stopped taking things like my laptop and students’ work to bed.

Then, Saturday came, and so did more energy. I was less dizzy. I took my daughter out shopping with me.

Then Sunday, and more energy still. Monday, I walked into Planet Fitness and swapped my Oceanside, CA keytag for a Gainesville, FL one, then ran three miles on the treadmill and did some leg weights. I returned to pole fitness on Wednesday. “You washed your hair!” my husband said as I stepped out of the shower.

“Yeah.”

He paused

“Oh my. I didn’t have to call you this time!” I exclaimed. The news really was a shock to me.

The doctor offered me no real diagnosis other than possible nutrient deficiency, exhaustion, dehydration, and mental strain. I think I allowed my world to turn into a tornado of sorts by failing to maintain balance. It’s nice to go hard on the health kick for a few days, but following up those days with lazy time passing and nourishment is an undercut. Relaxing for a day or two here and there is fine, but carving out time to decompress daily is essential. With all that I have to do, I can’t really afford to fall and stay down. Staying down was killing me. I’m so grateful to be able to get back up after nearly a month of swaying and rocking.

Whereas my world was a never-ending carousel, it’s returned now to being a stable pathway of steps. Thanks, but no thanks, conductor.

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