Today I was walking to the library, which is about five minutes from my townhouse, and I couldn’t make it. I had to stop and rest.
After about ten steps from my townhouse, that autoimmune fatigue started settling over me like a boulder. The best way I can describe this sort of fatigue is that I can feel every heartbeat sluggish and heavy. I have to concentrate on taking deep breaths, and every one is like breathing through a straw. If I close my eyes, I become dizzy. The pressure on the back of my head makes a migraine buzz behind my eyes.
I think I feel it today because I have the leisure to feel it. All week I’ve been exhausted, wearing out faster than I used to, needing more sleep than normal but waking up unrefreshed. On Wednesday I was waiting for the elevator, and I closed my eyes and let myself fall against the wall just to get the weight off me for a second. I was playing my Afghan flute yesterday, and had to stop after about fifteen minutes because it hurt my fingers so badly. It’s like my tolerance for everything has plummeted.
I don’t know if this is what it’s going to be like off steroids. I hope it’s just a phase–just me getting used to living without that cushion. But I don’t know.
In some ways, I’m glad I stopped at that bench. Last year, I would have screwed up my face and forced myself to make it. I would have arrived in the library aching, exhausted, likely having injured my ankles or shoulders with my stubbornness, and probably almost crying with frustration. Today I fixed my eyes on the bench and allowed myself to admit a small defeat. Today it was okay to stop.
(It’s funny that I still think of this as a battle. Maybe that’s not the healthiest way to see things–me vs. it. But I think it helps me feel a small measure of control, at least.)