Grinding it out

So I had a day off sick yesterday and went to the doctor mid-morning to find out if it was just my chest again or something else besides. He wasn’t able to tell me a lot besides suggesting I get an x-ray, a blood test, and perhaps get onto a management plan to handle my chest. I came away feeling depressed, convinced that the problem is my chest and that it’s not going to go away in a hurry.

Today is the first day of winter and already I’ve had 2 months of my chest playing up. Any sensible person would realise that it’s unlikely to get any better as the weather gets cooler and more winter bugs emerge. I returned home thinking I just have to accept it. If it was an occasional thing then fine, I could lie low when it played up and continue on as normally the rest of the time. It’s different if it becomes ongoing. I’m never quite well, and sometimes, regularly, somewhat less than quite well. Practically speaking it becomes an impossibility in my circumstances to ‘lay low’ then. I don’t have that sort of sick leave to start with, and I don’t want to live like that besides. It means that I just have to endure that.

If it was mere discomfort then okay, I could probably grin and bear it. The problem is that when I’m crook I’m much less functional. You know how it is, when you’re unwell you can’t concentrate as hard or for as long as you can normally. On Tuesday I actually had to take myself off and lie down for 40 minutes I was feeling so off. I found a quiet corner of the lounge and lay on the couch and closed my eyes. It was good for me, and returned to work feeling a lot better. But I can’t do that every day, and the fact is that doing things makes it worse, but it’s doing things I get paid for.

Now that sounds pretty gloomy, and sums up how I felt for a bit yesterday. I felt I had no control over things. The whole outlook seemed depressing. But then maybe it won’t be as bad. Maybe I’ve just had a bad bout and in the next week or two the antibiotics will properly kick in and I’ll be free and clear again, as fit as a fiddle. Maybe – and that’s what has to happen. I certainly don’t want to go on a management plan, I’d feel like a fuckin invalid.

I wasn’t happy being at home. I’d have preferred to be a work and productive. From a metaphysical perspective I absolutely hate calling in sick. It always feels like an admission of weakness, if not defeat. The crux of it is that I am being forced into the decision by my body. I hate being forced into anything. I’m the sort who’ll say white when you say black. I’m the captain of this particular conveyance, or so I like to believe – until proven otherwise, when it goes down bad.

So there’s all of this in me and the night comes and the darkness and it’s cold out and I’m colder still because my temperature is down and I look about and see things. My health weighs on my mind. I know that the particular condition I have is not going away and, if I’m not careful, becomes degenerative. I’m sitting there and I can feel my breath coming in and going out and it’s not smooth, but it’s easier than it has been and a lot easier than it will be if things go bad. And that’s what’s in my mind – not this year, but the years still to come. How am I supposed to manage if it goes south? What sort of life is that? And suddenly I’m angry.

Give me a fuckin break, I think. Fairs fair, enough is fuckin enough. I’ve been unemployed, homeless, and near bankrupt. I’ve lost pretty well everything I had, which is a bloody lot. I’m in an underpaid job which at least is much better than what I had before. I live in a cramped box, with just enough money to put food on the table, but no more. I’ve got debt coming out of my ears, a car I can’t afford to register, let alone insure, and need medication I can’t pay for. I suffered the death of my mum followed by the legal wrangles after her death – and the subsequent estrangement from the other side of the family; and now, without my sister and father, have only my nephews and niece for family. Now this – a chronic fuckin condition which threatens to jeopardise that small amount I have left.

It was pretty grim. I felt it for hours and there was a fair dose of self-pity in it. Fair call though really, what have I done so wrong to cop all this? Finally I settle. I always do. I’m weary of it, but there is no choice. I have to survive. To survive it means I have to deal with it. Grind it out, that’s what I do.

It’s not enough to simply endure. I need to do. Doing gives purpose and meaning to life. Everyone needs it. That’s one reason I write, because it’s mine. Because it elevates me from the muck I’m mired in. Fucked if that’s enough though. I don’t want to live off that scant hope. I can’t simply look to survive from one day to the next in the hope it will get better, because it won’t. I have to make it so – and I’m so tired of that. (Enduring all I have has made me stronger perhaps, but I couldn’t survive it a second time). But then I can’t stand the thought of bowing out defeated. What will my epitaph be?

I wasn’t happy, but, as I do, I began to make plans. I set myself targets. Prime among them is my health. I can’t do much without that and so I must look to enhance it. I’m not a doctor and medical science is not something I can control, but I can strive to live healthily, and with more prudence than currently I do. Surely if I achieve some measure of that then I can mitigate the worst of my condition. Step 1. Then there’s the rest of it. I need more, more money, but more purpose too. I’m lucky that put me in the right job and I can achieve both. That’s step 2.

Experience tells me that when you set goals they need to be quantifiable. Airy fairy, vague aspirations don’t cut the mustard. Put a number to it. Put a date. Set yourself and measure your progress against the target. Make it a contest.

This I’ve done for the first two of my targets, but the third, I’m afraid, is very airy fairy. I don’t even know what it is, or how to find it. It remains an underlying truth though. Step 3 – get more joy in my life.

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