Wednesday, October 23

normal people

This morning I arrived at the animal shelter for my volunteering in the cattery, secretly wishing I had preferenced the ‘doggery’ on my form.  I signed on at 10.45 am because I’m not good with ungodly hours of the morning (10 am), and glanced above to see the times that my volunteer colleagues would sign off for the day.

4.30 pm.

Ok. That’s fine, I thought. Don’t worry about their awesomeness.  

When I first got to the cattery I had to control the dry-wretch reflex. They say it takes eight minutes to adjust to a smell, but they didn’t test this in a cattery.  Lucky I am a pro mouth-breather, a technique my cloth nappy cleaning mum taught me long ago. Once I’d adjusted to nose blocking, I began my cleaning tasks and made sure to frequently pass the quarters housing a mama cat with her day old offspring. I might have passed it ten times because as you know from my last post, oggling baby furries is very therapeutic. It was squeal worthy, the way they were suckling their mum.

So, I was happily working away feeling ‘normal’, as in, not in pain or feeling deathly fatigued.  I loved that I was pain free as I worked; it made me feel all quivery with hope.  Maybe this will be so manageable that I will barely feel the effects afterwards? I thought. After what felt like a very long time, my supervisor was going to have her tea break. I called it ‘a day’ and returned to the sign off sheet.

I wrote: 12.00pm

As I drove home I just thought, ‘How?! How on earth can someone go back to work after their tea break? Is that even humanly possible?’

Instead of feeling joy that I’d managed to do a solid hour and a quarter of work, I felt total deflation. How can it be that these people are so mind bogglingly robust? How can it be that my body is so screwed up that even my ‘I’m recovering’ strength is a weak shadow of normal people?

When I got home, I sat on the couch. I kept sitting there for hours, feeling physically pummelled. 

Of course, the proper response would be:  But, it’s wonderful that you did an hour! Don’t compare yourself to others, but be glad that you have improved so much that you can manage to do that much.

And I would say: Yes, I know. That is the perfect answer. That is so true.

But.  Proper feelings aside, I am confronted by the reality of life outside my lounge. I had lost track of the lives around me. I am like an elderly person who plods through their quiet life yet considers it hectic.
Outside my sheltered existence, people are working all day long, five days a week. They are even looking after their homes, exercising and socialising {ie. my entire existence} in their spare time.

I know. It’s beyond.

I now realise why this was my mantra in my first year of illness:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

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