My mind and body have slowed considerably since the arrival of my illness. The main causes are my pain and the high doses of pain medications I’m required to take every day to manage it. I’ve experienced what is commonly called ‘brain fog’, which is a state where your mind’s clarity and your ability to understand things are clouded. This forces me to ask people to slow down when they are speaking to me so I’m certain not to miss any of the information they are sharing with me. I also carry a notebook with me, pretty much all the time, to write things down so I don’t forget or have to rely solely on my sometimes cloudy mind to remember things.
Where my body is concerned, on days where moving around isn’t too painful, and even when it is, I move more slowly too. I’ve adjusted my gait and walking pace and sometimes need to ask people I’m spending time with to shorten their strides so I can keep up. The only other time in my life I’ve concentrated so intently on my gait and pace is when I was a runner. It was important then to be conscious of how I planted my foot on the ground with each step: was I controlling my overpronation – the inward rolling of my foot – each time it landed on the ground. And was I running at the correct pace to finish a mapped distance in the amount of time I wanted. All while keeping myself motivated by remembering a running coach’s simple yet truthful advice that the best way to finish a race is by planting one foot in front of the other over and over again.
These changes to my body have been hard to adjust to; however, they’ve also made it necessary for me to live in the moment, which is not a terrible thing. No more multi-tasking and busyness that can make a person feel frazzled and stressed. No more pushing through things in my life regardless of how I feel without acknowledging those feelings. No frantic rushing to meet deadlines without being able to enjoy fully the process of creating or completing something new. No making mistakes simply from a lack of focussed attention on the task in front of you. All of these changes because I need to focus on one item, one issue, and one person at a time so I don’t feel overloaded, anxious, and fatigued.
Because of my illness, I’ve also come to learn that the nervous system is both delicate and resilient. It can easily be thrown off balance because of what we put in our bodies and injuries to our bodies. On the other hand, it also works to stabilize and heal our bodies in response to injuries and foreign substances. Unfortunately, my nervous system has been working overtime to cope with the perceived injury my body experienced three years ago. Until it figures out that the danger is over and it regains its balance, I’ll have to continue moving slow to prevent new complications; and I’ll continue appreciating the benefits that come with living in the moment.