Thursday, September 12, 2013

When Your Body Betrays You

I had four migraines last week. I'm still having dizzy spells.

This is despite the feverfew and sunglasses and excessive use of antihistamine. I even have a very good idea what's been causing the migraines, since I also have had severe sinus pressure and the pollen count's on the high end. (Though not actually high, which has me realizing that 10-months-of-grass-pollen South Carolina likely isn't the best place for me to live. But that's another issue.)

On the bright side, a few other (unexpected but problematic) health things are now under control or stopped altogether by a single (fortunately inexpensive) medication. So that's nice.

The health stuff is a pain, literally and figuratively. It interferes with my life, giving me less time to get anything done, and I actually dropped and broke something on Saturday. I was probably slept a good % of my work hours, last week.

Time management. This is why I like timers, to catch me when I'm distracted.

But even then, I feel as if my to-do list is growing faster than I can get it done. It's temporary, I know, and everything will get done (just maybe not as quickly as I like), and it's doable, but I'm praying to God that I can be unusually efficient, today. Because it'll make my life a lot easier if I can tune out the raw throat and ears and occasional wobble of the room.

Again, doable, but I'm getting so frustrated about it that I'm having trouble doing it.

But the problems aren't even serious, really. Just a bunch of little things that affect my life and that I have to cope with.

And they can be coped with or treated. It's just a matter of figuring out that treatment. Pau d'arco, for example, is helping with the remaining allergies. (Just realized that I forgot to put some lemon juice in the last batch. I'll have to fix that.)

That puts me at an advantage over many people, and many writers have health problems that make it difficult to have other work. Poor Holly Lisle has essentially untreatable virtigo and migraines. Kristine Kathryn Rusch and her husband, Dean Wesley Smith, have health issues of their own.

In a sense, the nature of writing and other creative industries can suit those of us with unsteady health. It gives us the ability to flex with the bad days, while also giving us material and incentive to take advantage of on the good days.

But the thing about bad days…they really make you appreciate the good ones more. I suspect that Scripture writer Paul's "thorn in the flesh" (II Cor 12:7–9) is much of why he accomplished so much.

And to look at me, you often wouldn't even think me sick at all. Likely a mite strange, if you caught me at a time when I was wearing sunglasses indoors, but I look healthy. Enviably so, with how little I am (in bone, height, and weight). A good friend of mine has neurofibromitosis (NF), a condition that means a bunch of benign tumors are growing throughout her body. Another good friend knows her, knows she has NF, knows what NF is…and actually didn't realize that meant she had those tumors before I pointed it out. (Which cleared some things up.)

There are so many people with essentially "invisible" thorns in their flesh, where people ridicule them, call them lazy, harass them because they look fine. If you don't know what you're seeing. Or if you are looking at the wrong things.

(I have a fast metabolism, and one of my friends fights anorexia. Our "enviable" thinness is actually a bad sign. Fortunately, we know other people who are aware of that and comment when we've lost weight, so we can promptly seek to put it back on. There is a reason my MCs are often on the too-thin side…)

If you're such a person—or if you want to better understand such deceptively healthy-looking people, check out ButYouDon'tLookSick, a website and community developed by such people, for such people. Because we need support, sometimes.

(I'm so allergic to strawberries that I react just from trace amounts in the air. Sadly, many people can know but not actually realize that until they bring a strawberry salad somewhere I am and, without even seeing the strawberries, I'm promptly running out the door into the grass-filled outside (which I'm also highly allergic to, but better to risk a migraine than to be unable to breathe).

One benefit to attending a small church with a lot of folks with allergies: Enough people understand, know, and remember enough about my allergies to give me heads-up. ("Don't go downstairs to the potluck! I'll make you a plate. You can have taco, right, as long as I make sure there's no tomato?" [And don't ask me how these people remember. There are so many allergies in my small church, that if you make anything, at least one person in the church can't eat it. That includes the Communion bread.])

In any event, I try to look at it as evidence of how we're all different. God made me (and everyone else) the way He did for a reason. At least it gives me good fodder to mine when writing my stories, to try to make sure my characters have a variety of issues and strengths.

Are there health issues, visible or invisible, that you suffer from, fear, respect? Are you familiar with ButYouDon'tLookSick?


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