Is there Life Off-Line?
I had all but forgotten what it was like to sweep off my front steps. They get the morning sun and it had broken 40 degrees outside, so I brushed our Labrador Retriever out there. We heat with wood. Tiny woodchips and ash are as constant as the ocean waves. I’d just been thinking, even thanking God out loud, that the wood stove season was about over when I began to see the familiar inanimate bunnies that scurry through the house at the change of seasons.
Begin shedding season.
Lyme Disease and other chronic disease has a way of distorting everything. One good day and hope flies in the face of a week of awful days. Sometimes, weeks of constant headache, ranging between 3 and 8 on the pain scale, can wear a person so thin that they become weepy, apathetic or irritable. But that one day, alright -sometimes it’s that few minutes of relief is sheer delight. Nothing special has to be going on, you just enjoy whatever it is your doing. We all need to brush the toilets. When it can be done without holding your head with one hand, rejoice!
This past two years, I spent most of my awake time on-line. Undiagnosed Lyme had my energy and pain levels in constant need on monitoring, compensating and adjusting my schedule around for as long as I can remember. The doctors told me it was all in my head. “You’re stressed.” they’d tell me. Yup, you’d be stressed to if you couldn’t hold a cup of coffee some days with absolutely nothing to correlate the weakness, pain and fatigue to.
But now, I had something to fight!
Not so fast, nurse after doctor after patient explained the reality for me. There is actually very little change in my status after two years. Why? Because Lyme Disease is the result of an infection that is studied very little. It is a tick borne illness that is just one of many that ticks carry. For many people, Lyme goes undiagnosed for so long that the infections are numerous and treatment is somewhat like playing whack-a-mole. Get the jump on one and another crops up. Some are symptom-only protocols. So, $40,000 out-of-pocket after the diagnosis and I am here on my couch -still.
But today, the headache is way down and I can walk up the stairs without stopping. We, my friend and I, gave the dog a bath after brushing her. It was a major victory. She doesn’t love a bath.
Some people have too many demands on their life. But I wonder how many people have unrealistic expectations that are completely self-imposed. How many of us have volunteered to help out on some project or even go to some event and then regretted it? Even people who are healthy do that. We need demands on us though. If we are not engaged in life at all, then life has no purpose.
People sometimes look at my on-line presence and say, “You do so much.” I’m tilting my head, thinking I’m on my couch, on-line. I sit and scroll. I read a lot! I read thoughtful articles and I listen to speakers on a variety of subjects, but I do very little. Then, I wonder what would I do if I weren’t on-line.
Is there life off-line?
I think there must be. So, I close my computer and I look around, not just at the cleaning that needs to be taken care of, but I reach out to the people who need to be contacted. Even with limited energy, there must be life off-line. That’s what I thought as I swept off the front steps.
Maybe, there is more life 0ff-line. For those of us with chronic illness, it’s almost hard to imagine, because we are confined to limited energy, much of which is spent compensating for varying pain levels. Trying to have a visit and not just curl up in a ball and cry can take a good deal of energy. So, how is it done? I try to think back before laptops and hand held devices and I think that even though we are physically still when we use them, we are actually using heaps of energy it’s just not the same kind of energy.
Memes and posts about invisible illnesses reverberate the concept of perception obscuring reality. It appears that you have color in your face and you’ve brushed your hair. You’re clothed and although slow, you walked into the building, maybe you even drove. You look fine. Trying to explain the perpetual flu is impossible, because you look fine.
Sitting on my couch on-line, you perceive that I am resting, even conserving my energy, but the reality is that with the influx of media, visual, auditory and then, responses back out, there is expenditure of energy. Being online may be an escape from pain or a necessary diversion from things we have no control over. It could be very helpful to get information that we need. It can be a great way to connect with other people.
There is life off-line too. The key is balance.
Our limited energy is ours and we can spend it any way we want. For me, and I hope some of you, recognizing that the internet can drain some of our energy in covert ways, helps me to be more aware of where I want to direct my energy.
Live your best!