I think one of the hardest things about chronic illness is the downswing. Those days or weeks right after you’ve just had a really good spell. You spend the entire upswing waking up and reminding yourself to enjoy it. Don’t forget it’s just a spell. Remember the downswing is normal. These things are cyclical. Those thoughts are often racing in my brain in the times when my body decides it can do all the things!
And then the downswing. It honestly doesn’t matter how much I tell myself the downswing is going to happen, it’s always devastating. So, I thought today maybe I would just talk a little about one thing that’s special because of the downswing to help with my feelings of frustration and loss:
Pain usually wakes me up before dawn. 5:03am today. In these early hours of the morning Brian is sleeping quietly beside me, his 10-12hr workday hasn’t started yet. Macallan always crawls into me and spoons with me. This week, Figg has taken her new post against my back. This is her first experience with the downswing. So Macallan is running along the front of my body with his deep and steady breathing, head tucked under my chin and in the crook of my arm as I type on my phone. Figg is curled against my back with her chihuahua snoring. This particular morning there is some drippy rain and every now and then I hear Bourbon snort on the porch as he begins to wake up and think about breakfast.
It’s these times that I can almost ache with my connection to Macallan. My brain fog is so much clearer in these early morning hours before the exhaustion sets in and before I have to go for the rescue meds that manage my symptoms but make my brain a little fuzzy. These are some of my favorite times. It’s an experience I would never know without the shadow that looms always waiting to resurface. I love these times. They often feel just for me and my experience. I read a lot in these early mornings. I usually send my therapist an update. I spend some time answering emails, writing my to-do lists, considering ways to improve my passions. These are my most productive hours.
Then, as the sun rises outside my bedroom window, the rain comes tumbling down. I begin to feel the crispness of my thoughts get fuzzy just around the edges. I begin to shift and move every few minutes to try to get to a position that allows me to grasp the last few minutes of this clarity through the pain. Macallan moves, knowing in just moments I will be forced to get up and take meds and he will get breakfast. And just like that, the moment has passed. 2 hours almost exactly this morning. It’s a gift, and now, at 7:03am, I begin.