Time sometimes makes me feel as if I’m moving at a snail’s pace through a murky grey fog. Since having surgery at the end of February, that’s how I’ve been feeling. For the first weeks afterwards, I told myself it was the general anesthetics working through my body and once that passed my energy level would pick up. When that didn’t happen I told myself that I wasn’t getting enough quality sleep, which rarely ever happens, so I had to cast that variable by the wayside. Even when I got the all clear from my doctor because the pathology report from my surgery was negative for any cancer, there was no movement on my energy meter.
I started to get concerned; because I thought, I might slowly be sliding into depression but missing the true signs. Maybe the low energy I was crediting to anesthesia, fatigue, a pain flare up, or my laptop’s hard drive crashing was really the looming darkness of a mental crash. It wouldn’t be hard to miss for someone in my situation, even with the mental health supports I have in place to cope with my poor health; and especially because my nervous system gets flooded not just by the barrage of constant pain but also an unending amount of pain medications. With these things constantly at play, a shift in mood would be easy to miss.
Then last week, I felt a desperate need to change things, but I knew whatever I did had to fall within the limits of my pain. On Saturday, I decided to do something that I had taken for granted when I was healthy. I booked an appointment with the aesthetician I used to go to because it’s been such a long time – almost four years ago before the start of my illness – since I did anything to pamper myself. The women who own the spa I went to were so happy to see me. They asked why it had been so long since my last visit and I told them what I’ve been living with. Not only were they sympathetic, they were also empathetic because they both faced significant health issues in recent years. They were both extremely encouraging and expressed hopes that I would be better soon.
At the end of my appointment, as I walked to the elevators one of the women called after me. I assumed I forgot something, but I hadn’t. She followed me out to give me one of the tightest warm hugs I’ve had in a long time. I started to cry as a woman I hardly know held me with great affection. She reiterated her positive wishes and prayers that I will become healthy soon. For the rest of the day as I pushed myself to finish the errands I had to do – I’m not sure I could have lasted another week without my laptop – I could feel the fog lifting. A hug from someone I barely know lit up my day and has had lingering positive effect.
I’ve been reflecting on that for the past few days: For anyone reading my writing for the first time, this isn’t about me being starved for affection or human contact. I have wonderful friends and family who do everything they can to support me. This is about the big way small gestures can affect our lives; the way sharing our troubles can bring about such surprising connections and unexpectedly comforting events; and how feeling cared for, even if it’s just for a moment, can fortify us.
I’m glad I made that appointment. Apart from reminding me how important it is to do things to pamper one’s self from time to time, it was a truly bright experience that lifted much of the fog that had cloaked me.