It is giving me pause this morning that I am racking my brains to think of something that would make me so exuberant as to outwardly jump up and down. But I'm feeling a little battered and bruised today by the tail end of a sinus flare-up, the remains of the most recent parasite cleansing activities, and the monthly visit. When I feel like this, it's hard to imagine feeling excited by anything. Then, sure as the sun goes down and comes back up again, the next day I'm in exactly the spot I couldn't imagine myself in the day before.
It's a strange thing that after years of dealing with a chronic illness, feeling bad still feels surreal. It's like I am now the dual citizen of two countries in which I forget what it's like to be in one as soon as I set foot in the other. But still, I remain haunted by both.
I think of these things because yesterday I spent a dreadfully horrid afternoon edifying myself by reading The Alchemy of Illness by Kat Duff, who also has dual citizenship in the land of CFS/CFIDS. She puts into words some of the stuff I have been struggling for years to find words for (though really, I don't think there are words to describe it). But here are a few:
Illness is an upside-down world, a mirror image reversing the assumptions of our normal daily lives. I think of it as the underside of life itself, the night to our days, the roots of our trees. The first thing that happens when I get sick, even before physical symptoms appear, is that I lose my usual interests. A kind of existential ennui rises in my bones like floodwaters, and nothing seems worth doing: making breakfast, getting to work on time, or making love. That is when I know I am succumbing to the influence of illness, whether it is a minor cold or a life-threatening case of dysentery. I slip, like fluid through a porous membrance, into the nightshade of my solar self, where I am tired of my friends, I hate my work, the weather stinks, and I am a failure.And this:
Sometimes I ask myself, "Why didn't I see this before?" Then some sure voice from the depths of my illness replies, "You could not see before."
I find it very difficult to reconcile the contrary visions of health and illness, or even hold them both in my mind at the same time. They slip away from each other, like oil and water. After a few months in bed I could not remember what it felt like to swim a mile, which I used to do almost every day. I had forgotten the pleasure of cool water on my skin, the comfort of a smooth stroke. I could only imagine it to be cold and exhausting from the vantage point of my warm water bed and interminable fatigue. It happens the other way around too. A friend of mine who is recovering from CFIDS confided the other day, "I'm afraid I'll forget what it was like; I already do on my good days."
... There is, perhaps rightly so, an invisible rope that separates the sick from the well, so that each is repelled by the other, like magnets reversed. The well venture forth to accomplish great deeds in the world, while the sick turn back onto themselves and commune with the dead; neither can face the other very comfortbly, without intrusions of envy, resentment, fear, or horror. Frankly, from the viewpoint of illness, healthy people seem ridiculous, even a touch dangerous, in their blinded busyness, marching like soldiers to the drumbeat of duty and desire.
Yes and yes! Wonderful! Who can understand the joys that can be found sometimes, unbidden, in the midst of sickness? When you are repellent to everybody else, and repellent to yourself?
Yes. Now that I have pondered what it's been like holding dual citizenship and travelling within those two very different internal countries, I can think of something that would definitely make me jump for joy ~ a couple of plane tickets, being the first leg of a series of overseas jaunts that span, oh, the next decade or two.
Yeah, I think that'd do it.
|Pic by Sel|