Even though it's been almost three years since my chronic health adventure began, I still bump up against old ideas and expectations for myself on a pretty regular basis. I guess I haven't truly accepted yet what it means to have a chronic disease.
My most disabling issue, the one I've been struggling with for a couple of years now with no success, is my constant fatigue and lack of energy. I know that it's caused by the Crohn's and Fibro. I know it's not because of any particular action or inaction on my part. But every once in a while I twist it around in my mind again. If only I tried to be more active, I'd feel better. If only I lost some weight, I'd have more energy. When someone who doesn't have these health problems says something like this, I can smack them upside the head, or call them idiots, or choose to ignore them. But what do you do when it's the little voice in your head telling you these things?
My latest plunge into crazy is the Wii. Don't get me wrong, I love my Wii. I'm having a blast playing games on the Wii Fit, unlocking stuff in Walk it Out, and in my latest acquisition learning dance routines in We Cheer 2. It gets me up off the couch and moving a bit. I can do 10-15 minutes of something, sit down for a couple of hours, and then do a few more minutes later. Unlike going to the gym, I don't spend more time driving back and forth than I do in the actual exercise activity. And it's really fun- I can laugh and be silly in the privacy of my own home.
But what I'm finally realizing is that this activity comes at a cost. For normal people, three weeks of regular, moderate exercise would probably be paying dividends by now- they'd probably be sleeping better and feeling more energy during the day. Not me. I looked around the apartment over the weekend and realized that all the energy for Wii-ing had to come from somewhere, and it came out of all the other things I have to do to take care of myself. I haven't done laundry in at least two weeks. I've been eating take out off paper plates for the last two weeks. My Christmas tree is still standing and the lights are still on it. I haven't even taken down the stockings yet! The exercise from the Wii hasn't given me more spoons- I've just used the spoons I had on that instead of all the other things I need to be doing.
So what's the solution? Giving up the Wii? I don't think so. All the doctors and websites say that gentle exercise is good for Fibro and should eventually help with pain levels. (Although my pain and use of pain killers has increased significantly in the three weeks since I started Wii-ing.) Plus, it's fun, and there's precious little of anything in my life these days that's fun. But woman cannot live on take out alone. And eventually I'll need clean underwear. (Eventually is coming quickly. I have an appointment with a social security doctor on Wednesday, and I'd rather not go commando.) That means I'm going to have to find a new balance. More spoons on cleaning, fewer spoons on Wii-ing.
It's not easy facing crappy realities while at the same time holding out hope for improvement and better tomorrows. I wonder how many more times I'll have to trip over these realities before it finally sinks in? Does it ever?