Sunday, August 30, 2009


For the past two months I have been living by one precept: I won’t sleep if I don’t get enough exercise during the day. I am on a constant rotation of stair machines, swimming, power yoga and powerish walking. I am suddenly in wonderful shape, fitting into the jeans that I was too fat for a few months ago.

I also have days when my body cries out for a break. ‘You'll kill us with a big workout every day,’ my muscles scream. On those days I let the hours slide by, and in the evening I take a slow walk 10 blocks up and back on my street. At bedtime I am wide awake and I spend most of the night that way. The next day I am back at the gym.

At some point I was going to truly collapse, and that’s what I got after a night of little sleep, a big workout, a five hour plane flight, and another workout the next day. I did it all in hopes of keeping myself in balance. What I got instead was the opposite: too exhausted to sleep, too exhausted to move around.

I spent yesterday feeling as if my bones had been through a bone crusher and my muscles had been through a muscle crusher. In fact, such a machine exists, with both functions combined into one and having the added advantage of putting your body clock at odds with the schedule of those around you; it is called The Airplane.

Now, after years of practice my brain is pretty much stuck in the groove of constantly thinking about how to avoid physical discomfort: take pills at the 15 different proper times throughout the day, eat the right foods at the right times, don't eat the food that make you feel like a car crash, don’t lie down in bed too long, but do take naps, give myself daily injections and get others to give me more daily injections, if I can’t sleep try taking more chlorella, if my legs ache try taking Heart Gems (yes, I take a supplement called Heart Gems!) but not too many or you might not sleep, etc. Flagging in any of these duties brings on some form of physical discomfort —headache, insomnia, nausea, fatigue, etc. I put this all under the noble label of Taking Care of Myself and Keeping My Body in Balance, but really I am just trying to keep from feeling rotten.

Yesterday there was simply no way around it. I was going to feel bad. All I could do was get myself fed and lie on the couch, working on a quilt. I hurt too much to do anything else. At night as I lay wake in bed, having tried all the supplements that usually get me to sleep, I started to panic. I ached all over, I was exhausted and I just couldn’t drift off. I had failed to keep my body in balance! And then I remembered there is another approach I used to take when things were just bad all the time: acceptance. I thought, well, this is the antibiotic treatment for Lyme Disease. What do you expect? Sometimes it’s just going to feel awful and there will be nothing you can do about it.

And yes, that was a comfort. Simply accepting that I felt pretty rotten helped. I got up and searched through my old cassette books on tape and found an Agatha Christie to listen to, and lay down in bed and felt how tired I was and told myself that was OK.


Anonymous said...

I love this post....thank you!

Naomi said...

What a lovely comment, it made my day.