The Best We Can

Back to work I went on Monday, humming that song from Snow White (except I always thought it was "it's off to work we go" and now it doesn't make any sense at all in this post). Okay, it's entirely possible that I wasn't humming - I spent my week’s vacation having a massive sinus infection and feeling pretty miserable for most of it. Naturally, I felt better just in time to go back to work. Given how often that happens to me, I may stop taking vacations.

Anyway! By Monday evening, I was already exhausted. I'm a lot more tired than I think I used to be last spring. It's possible that I'm doing more now, maybe I'm not fully topped up on Humira after all or maybe it's something else altogether. All I know is that without the biweekly B12 shots, I'd be toast. And I keep wondering how other people do it. Not healthy people, because I don't expect to have the same energy level as someone who doesn't have RA and fibro…

OK, that's not entirely true. Based on my endless list and propensity to involve myself in interesting things, I obviously expect to have much more energy than I actually do. Don't you hate it when you screw up your own argument in the middle? The point is I'm frustrated to no end. I have a bunch of things I'd like to do, not enough time to do them and although my pain levels are fairly decent (knock wood), the tired is kicking my arse. I've gotten far enough that I admit I have a problem, made a resolution to find a way to work smarter, not harder, but am still sort of stuck in the theoretical of that.

Yesterday, at the end of my HealthCentral interview with Kelly from RA Warrior, I asked if we could detour into something personal. She sounded a teensy bit cautious – the where is this nutbar going hung thick in the air between us - but agreed. So I asked her the infamous question.

How do you do it all? And not in a superwoman kind of way, but how do you do it all when RA and all its attendant hiccups get in your way?

"I don’t do it well," she said. And right there, I could feel a weight lifting from my shoulders.

She went on to say "I go through phases of being good to myself and give myself the rest I need and then I feel this urgency and work into the wee hours of the night and feel very anxious about it." And this is the point where both of us almost simultaneously said "and then you crash." She told me of having been 12 weeks behind on her email and now "only" six weeks. Kelly talked about compartmentalizing, of every now and again actually admitting that you can't do it all and saying no to opportunities that come your way (this could take some practice). Then she mentioned having to contact someone asking to delay a deadline due to having overbooked herself and getting a huge gift with the reply e-mail. Because the person wrote back "what a blessing it is that you have all those things going on."

Wow, right? This was a reminder to me to turn the prism, to look at it differnetly. About not berating myself because I can barely keep up, about not getting caught up in the stress and anxiety, but, in Kelly's words "celebrate that this many people and opportunities are in my life."

I am a lucky, lucky woman. Also very tired, but I'm working on that.

This part of this conversation with Kelly was one of those gems, a moment of shining realization that I am not alone. That down there in central Florida, there's another woman who knows exactly how I feel and this normalized it for me. I no longer feel guilty (not much, anyway), have forgiven myself for not having the energy of 22-year-old professional athlete (for now, anyway) and remembered that all we can do is our best. Doing your best doesn't mean doing everything on your list. Doing your best means doing what you can with the resources available to you. No one can ask for more, least of all yourself.

This is what the Internet does - it affirms, it liberates and it empowers.

And I realized one more thing. That on the surface, a lot of us probably look like it's all effortless. Like ducks. You know what I mean - that quote that we all know and which apparently is by Michael Caine: "Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath." 

We’re not, though. But we do the best we can.

Friday January 20 is the last day to vote in the Canadian Blog Awards, My post Sensitive to the D-Word is nominated in the category of Best Blog Post of the  this year. If you liked it, please vote! Also check out the other nominees - many are terrific. To mention a couple, Screw Bronze! is up for Best Health and Best GBLT Blog and Rolling Around in My Head is up for Best overall and Best Personal Blog.


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