a work in progress

expectations v. reality

Yesterday got the best of me. It wasn’t dramatic or anything, but sometimes I own my chronic pain, and other times it owns me. I didn’t end the day doubled over or leaving a cocktail party early and in tears, but there are countless ways a chronic condition can upset what you thought your day (or a single activity) was going to look like.

The day began with me listening to one of my favorite podcasts as I got ready. This particular segment featured a girl probably around my age with a chronic illness who explained that she didn’t see any improvements in her health until she fully committed to the clean diet her body required.

So I started feeling guilty. I have not completely signed on to an anti-inflammatory diet and regularly eat things I shouldn’t. On top of that, I have become lazy. Day-to-day eating is nothing more than a necessity since my pain went up and my appetite plummeted. I used to take pride in planning healthy meals, cooking dinner, and honing my skills in the kitchen. Now, it’s just about what I can shove in my mouth to get some calories, vitamins, and whatever else humans need. The end result is me at the end of the day going through what I ate, realizing it’s not enough, and downing a nutrient-dense shake or juice at 8:30 at night. Not ideal.

I decided then and there that before the day was up I was going to go to the grocery store, buy some healthy foods, and then cook them. It would be a massive undertaking, but it was only 7:00 in the morning and I was feeling pretty good. I knew that I would be physically drained at the end of the workday as I always am, but for whatever reason, I go into most days thinking I’m going to be better off than I end up. I guess I’m not big on logical thinking.

Fortunately, I was able to grocery shop on my lunch break, and as I drove home at 5:30 I was grateful that worked out because I wasn’t feeling up to that activity any longer. My pain was pretty high and I questioned whether or not I would be able to cook at all. I took some meds as soon as I got home, and got in the bath.

90 minutes later I was feeling good (baths and narcotics are a miracle combination) and I was back to thinking that cooking was in the cards. Things started out well, but simple homemade hummus prep turned into me Googling reasonable clotting times for finger cuts. I can usually safely cook while I have pain meds in my system, but last night I didn’t. After bleeding on the cutting board, in the sink, and in the bowl with the garbanzo beans I decided to finish the hummus as quickly as possible and scrap the baked chicken breast.

The end result: a dinner of sliced cucumbers and tainted hummus.

My expectations were so high when I started the day, and if I wake up with a reasonable amount of pain that’s typical. But inevitably each day ends the same, with me wanting to go home and do nothing. You’d think after all this time my expectations would match up with reality, but they don’t, and I’m not even sure I want them to. What would my day look like if I acted like I knew I would hit the wall by 4:00? What would my life look like if I tried to curb that? Would I have less pain but do practically nothing, or am I always going to reach my limit at some point before the day is up regardless of what I do?

That might be worth exploring…I’ll let you know how it goes.

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