Back In The Saddle Again (Well, in, then out, then in…)

So I haven’t been keeping up on our website until just recently. My new hashtag is #IBlameCovid. It’s been 5 months since I was first diagnosed. Here we are in July (almost August) and I’m definitely improved (I know March happened, but don’t ask me about it), but not completely over it yet.

The main lingering symptom is exhaustion. In March, I found myself having to sit on the floor of my shower because I couldn’t stand up long enough to rinse the shampoo from my hair. Now? I can shower, then I have to lie down for an hour. So improvement, yes, but not back to normal.

That’s a common misunderstanding about #Covid19. People think you have it and you die, or you get better, end of report. Not really. For many people, even a mild to moderate case (like mine), where you didn’t have to be hospitalized, produces lingering and often debilitating symptoms that can come and go unpredictably.

Thinking is physical work and it tires me out. Laugh if you want to, it’s true. Sometimes I hunt for common words or to labor to finish a thought. It gets better, then returns. I’m just glad my brain came back at all. For quite a while, I struggled to follow a thought from one end to the other, and conversation left me with crushing fatigue.

I’m writing and editing again, and my brain seems to function, until I get tired, so my working hours are brief and interrupted by rest breaks while I lie down, but at least I can work a bit. I just have to accept that an hour of writing will be followed by an hour (or more) of lying down. It’s frustrating, and I was wrestling with guilt and frustration, but I remembered the lesson a dear friend taught me.

Merlin was my service dog. He had been a starving stray puppy, but he still approached every morning cheerfully, making the most of whatever life offered him that day. We call it The Lesson Of Merlin. He taught me that it doesn’t matter what you planned, or what you feel your situation “should” be. What matters is meeting life where it is and doing what you can with what you have to work with.

Merlin, who tried to teach me all he could.

Which isn’t to say I’ve magically become a yogi and avatar of enlightenment. I have to remind myself every day, sometimes multiple times a day, to look at what I have available that day and make the most of it. If it’s a bad post-Covid day, that may mean lying on the couch all day, watching Shakespearean comedies, history programs and writing classes on tv. If it’s a good day, it’s a bit of housecleaning, writing, playing with my pups, talking with Mark. My challenge is to find joy in whatever I have.

The lesson of Merlin.

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