Killing Me

peaceful_season

My existence here in Portland has been very serene, peaceful, isolated, controlled. That’s good, as I just found out when we had the 5 of us back in the house for a short holiday visit over the past several days. That life, that much randomness and compounded stress, was killing me.

In order to maintain some measure of stability, I need to have control over every aspect of my life. Bed time, out-of-bed time, diet, medicine, exercise, checklists, appointments, schedule, organization, management, you name it. When any of those things get out of whack, I go downhill fast. I don’t get enough sleep, my medication gets out of whack, I eat whatever/whenever instead of regular meals, each problem snowballs and creates two more, the whole mess weakens my immune system, and I can almost feel the weeks and months of life oozing out of me.

Having this time in Portland, especially the first 6 weeks or so when I had nothing in my apartment except a bed, were idyllic. Zero distractions. No computer, no television. I got to bed at 8 every night, up at 6 every morning. Medication on time. Ate proper meals. Walked about 2 miles a day, just doing the things that I normally would do. I had the ability and the freedom to organize my day in a way that was beneficial to my health. In short, I felt like a million bucks.

Contrast that with New Year’s Day. I was sick, our youngest was sick, and Meg woke up with the worst migraine in close to a decade. Because she couldn’t be moved I had to arrange late checkout from the hotel, then go out with a cold in freezing temperatures because we didn’t have the right medicine to treat any of us. We had a family gathering to get to, then a 2-hour drive home, then about 800 things that needed to get done following our arrival home at 6pm — understanding that I had a 5am wake-up call to go catch a flight at O’Hare. That evening at around 8pm, when the 99th thing went wrong, I stood there in the family room and realized, this is what was killing me.

I told Meg on the way to the airport, I love these kids to death, but I’m not going to miss them. Thinking back on it now, that was too harsh. I love the kids, and I do miss them dreadfully out here. But I don’t miss the bedlam that they bring into my life. When I was younger, and healthier, I could handle it. A week’s worth of 20 hour days? No problem. Up every 3 hours with an infant for 18 months straight? Done. 3 jobs plus night school to support a young family and try to step up to a real career? Piece of cake. That took a heavy toll, however. And now is when I start paying the IOU’s I took out on my body and my psyche all those years ago.

I’m back in Portland now, still sick, but improving. I am still trying to sort out numerous problems left over from the holiday season, but at least I can do it without a front row seat — dogs and cats and kids flying pell mell around me. It is quiet here, I haven’t turned on music or the television. I forced myself to get 10 hours sleep last night. I am trying to get my diet under control again. With luck, things will soon be back to normal.

And when Meg and the pets get here, things will improve yet again. Our pets are very lovey-dovey, especially that goofy mutt of ours. Yeah, the older cat is a yangy thing, but when she’s not making noise she’s a snuggler. And the best part is, Meg will be here. When things do get out of whack with me, she’s the best person to help get things back in order. She sees the wheels coming off of my proverbial wagon long before I am stuck in a ditch, and is usually there with a lug wrench to make sure I stay on the track. She’s my rock. To be honest, it’s only by the grace of God and her patient instructions that I’m able to do any more than pour cereal into a bowl and lift a spoon to my mouth. No, having her here will be a dramatic improvement.

Add to that a few of the extra benefits of just being where we are. We lucked into a beautiful apartment complex nestled into the edge of a forest, with zero through traffic. Lots of fresh air, not as hot in the summer, not as cold in the winter. All of this likely means that this transition to Portland is going to be the best thing for my long-term health. No more roller coasters and tilt-a-whirl; time for the petting zoo instead of the amusement park. Stop doing the things that were killing me, and start doing the things that are healing me.

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