Managing a disease is a long-term activity. When something like this pops up in your life, it's a shock. Then later, when you're keeping on with your keeping on, these reminders of your old life pop up all over the place. It's humbling. It's hard to look at sometimes. Well, it's hard to look at most of the time.
I used to be one of those really organized people who had everything done by bedtime. Maybe I was cranky as hell, maybe I was tired and stressed by the time I got to bed, but by gosh, I didn't wake up to a mess. Stuff got done. Bills were paid on time. I was a freaking superhero, now that I think of it.
I'd always have projects going on. You know how much I like to write... well, I also love to act. Plus, there's the fun of going out to support my friends: musicians, actors, artists. It was a busy life but it was good. Time with friends, work (usually not the most meaningful pastime, but I always had something to bring money in the door), and these artistic pursuits kept me busy. Somehow I got the laundry done and got myself fed often enough. It was a different life.
Managing my disease means a lot of cooking. I have to have special food that's low in sodium, free of caffeine and alcohol (that's right, no more rum and coke!) and wheat-free. Dear God. I tell my friends it's like I have a part-time job cooking for myself.
I miss the days when I could go to Subway and order a BMT, for crap's sake.
My friend Rob posts pictures on Facebook of his old life, when he could drink. He had to have a heart transplant, and gave up drinking at least a decade ago. When we were friends (who hung out in real life more than once a year), we'd see each other out, going dancing, drinking whatever we felt like, having fun. Those were good days. I think he would agree. But yet, we keep going. It's what you do.
So, the search for grace comes from knowing all the things that I could do and knowing that some of those things I'll never be able to do again. It seems ungrateful to keep noticing all these things that are no longer available to me, and I wonder if I should be ignoring them.
I wish I could ignore these things like I ignore the laundry that sits in the dryer for days after I've forgotten about it, like the full dishwasher with soap in it that I forgot to turn on. I wish I could ignore them like the dishes I allow to sit overnight nowadays. (They have to sit in the sink because I have yet to empty the dishwasher that I finally remembered to run earlier today, and can't be bothered to unload yet.) I am now a person who forgets things and lets things go. I don't take care of things like I used to. Part of it is because of the medication I took. I don't know if there are any other reasons for it, but there could be.
I have let things go, in both the good and bad ways. It's an effort to get bills sent on time. I am out of shape, somewhat because of the illness, but still. I shouldn't be eating pudding if I'm not the slightest bit interested in working it off later.
I've had to let go of ideas about myself that don't really apply anymore. I've stopped performing (dance, improv, and other acting) because 2 months of vertigo really put a hitch in your confidence in doing anything other than walking slowly straight ahead. I don't know if I'll ever do it again, which is sad to say. I've met so many great friends through doing community theatre. The energy of the past 5 years, though, has kept me away from it for the most part.
Tonight, I saw a musical onstage. When I was 19, I was part of the cast of the same show. I remembered the songs and the lines and some of the scenes. There I was, comparing the choreography, costumes, and musical numbers to what I'd learned all those years ago.
Well, I left in tears, wondering: Why can't I do the things I used to do?
Then I thought: Everyone goes through this. Stop whining and being a brat.
But seriously, it is hard to take.
I am trying. I really am.