Monday, July 20

high on life and blood

Happy endorphins float through my body on and off all day and night.

This sense of joyful mental well-being has never been as consistent in my life as the last few months.  Even though I projectile vomited my breakfast this morning, even though I can’t sleep through the night, even though I grieve on the couch with Ben when we mentally prepare to go to the Royal Women’s for brain checkups.

It’s a three stranded cord, this joy.

Being on the brink of something new, after the longest, dreariest, waiting season of my life.

The magic of feeling a tiny human move within me all day long.

And something most people usually have: blood flowing.

These years with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome have been faint, weak, powerless. I’ve been living half strength, like a watery apology of a cup of hot chocolate. Full bodied, full creamed, or shall I write normal....I lost the memory of what that felt like. I knew my autonomic system was dysfunctional, I could rattle off my wordy diagnosis, but I couldn’t recall how I was supposed to feel. I wondered sometimes if I was a hypochondriac. How much of my inability to do things was physical, and how much was mental? I wondered if my aversion to hanging out the washing and cleaning the shower was more laziness than chronically low blood pressure. I wondered if my default position of asking Ben to bring something to the couch for me was a deep growing slothfulness.

And then my blood volume increased in the second trimester, because I was growing a baby. Standing up, the most taken for granted of abilities, became easy. There is no blackness, no crouching to the ground as I wait for blood to reach my head. I lift my arms up to the washing line, and I don’t feel like I am ebbing away. I took my first bath in four years, and I didn’t start to pass out, so I started to take them multiple times a week, for the joy of it. I don’t do intense cardio, and yet I can still stand and walk. I go and buy the groceries for the first time in years, because I can stand in a queue, I can stand in fluorescent lights. The blood doesn’t drain from my organs, leaving me a quickly wasting shell.

The lady at the checkout saw the load I was carrying, and presumably my baby bump, and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you standing there with all that stuff. You can just put in on the counter while you wait.” I am grateful for the kindness of strangers to me while I’m pregnant, but the cruelty of invisible illness is acute. The bump I have out the front, which induces the compassion of society, it is no trouble to me. I have been far far sicker while not pregnant; while standing there slim and normal to the eye, no offers of seats or help. Because no one can tell that my blood had settled in my legs and my head is light. No one can see that I feel like lukewarm and woefully weak tea, that I am silently disabled and there is nothing I can do about it.

I want to bottle this blood, to feel like this always. Blood is a life spring, invisible and essential. I don’t know how long it will last after I give birth, or when I will return to my watery, strengthless, invisible reality. I don’t want to go back there, to live grey and drained. I don’t have the words to describe the bleakness of the normality I am on vacation from. All I can think is, if you can stand unsupported and not crumple like a paper bag, life is sweeter than you know.

For now, that is me. The life I’m growing inside me is also giving me life. 
So much icing on the cake. 

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