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Recovery Takes Time

stretching-kittyAlmost everyone has been sick at some point. If you’re like me, as soon as you feel better, you jump to do all the things you couldn’t do while you were in bed. Hurrah, I feel better, I can do the windows! And bake some cookies, it isn’t even difficult! And, and… And then you drop to bed again, exhausted. And that’s what happens after the flu, not after something more serious, and considerably longer.

Last year, as I’ve mentioned before, my thyroid gland was giving me trouble again. In June, I could barely do anything during the fencing training. I had to rest every few minutes. My muscle mass dropped — and my muscle mass was never something to be proud of, so you can try to imagine what that was like.

Now, I knew I would get better once the increased dose of meds kicked in, which usually took about three weeks. What I also knew, but chose to forget about, was that meds kicking in would be just the beginning. At that point I would be able to start rebuilding my muscles. It would take a while before I managed to get them into anything remotely resembling shape. I was aware of it, sort of. Being as impatient as I was, I just didn’t want to remember it, so I was disappointed by the recovery speed, even though it was normal.

After you spend some time barely using your muscles, it takes time and effort to rebuild them (or build them into something better). If you have a sickness causing your muscle mass to drop, such as hypothyreosis, you lose your muscle mass faster, and it’s harder to gain again. With the proper treatment, you will recover, but it takes time and effort.

Patience helps. Persistence helps — you won’t be able to run a marathon or to lift heavy weights just because your hormone level is right, you’ll need to exercise too. Having a goal in mind helps as well; I want to be able to do so-and-so is a perfectly good goal. People who support you without pushing you are great, if you’re in contact with any (sorry, the yelling sergeant from the movies wouldn’t help me at all).

After a while, you will get better. You’ll get there. Remember that recovery doesn’t happen in a single night, and you’ll get there.

Somebody please point me to this post the next time I rush into activities straight after feeling slightly better.

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Kitty Sings the Blues

A kitty singing. Or yawning, more likely.
A kitty singing. Or yawning, more likely.

No, this isn’t about me actually singing. You don’t want to hear me doing that. Believe me.

This is about the other blues. Feeling blue. Not so bad I’d need professional help, but not good, either.

When feeling blue hits, it gets difficult. You don’t really see it from the outside, and if you’ve never experienced it, it may be hard to understand, so I’m trying to raise awareness here, through a blog only a chosen few read. 😆

The person in front of you doesn’t look like he/she is in pain, or suffering in any way. Doesn’t look cheerful, either, but nobody is always cheerful anyway. Mostly seems lazy. You might wish for him/her to just get up already and do something useful.

Well, getting up and doing something is the difficult part. If it’s necessary to go to work (otherwise you’ll lose your job), or buy groceries (otherwise you’ll starve to death), or cook (otherwise you and your family won’t have a decent meal), or take care of kids, yeah, you’ll do it. And while doing it, you’ll feel slightly better. And as soon as you sit down to get some rest, the blues hits again.

If it’s not about doing something necessary – say, if it’s about writing that novel, and writing novels is not your day job – it turns out that, somehow, you never quite get to it. You think about it, sure. You feel bad about not doing it. But you still don’t do it.

It’s not terribly bad, but it’s not good, either.

So, what to do about it? What can be done?

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, and I can’t give a competent medical advice. I can only tell what works or doesn’t work for me.

In my case, the big part of it is a thyroid gland problem, the Hashimoto’s disease. So I wait for the increased dose of the meds to kick in, which takes weeks.

Physical activity helps some. It gives you a firm(ish) body, which makes you feel good about it, and if you choose the one you find fun, you’ll enjoy doing it even when it’s difficult (if you’re out of shape, it will be hard). If you choose the one you don’t find fun, you won’t enjoy it, it will become yet another tiresome task, and you’ll feel bad whether you keep doing it or quit (unless after quitting you choose something you actually stick to). Careful, though; if you overdo it, you risk injury, and you also risk quitting because you’re way too exhausted to do anything but breathe.

Having a job or tasks you have to do also helps, because it forces you to move, and moving and doing something eases it a bit. After doing it, though, you might feel both blue and tired. Achieving something (Hey, I made lunch! Hey, I finished this day’s work!) does very little to help.

Beating yourself on the head and trying to blame yourself into doing what you intended to do doesn’t help. Then again, it never does, does it?

Waiting it out helps. It doesn’t last forever. It will pass (if it doesn’t, medical assistance might be necessary). Waiting is no fun, but waiting it out is doable, and sometimes doable is what counts.

And… That would be pretty much it. No miracle cure (I’m not in the business of selling the snake oil, sorry). No magic wands. Just going through the day, and then the next one, and the next; and doing what you can, including at least some stuff you enjoy.

And remembering that this, too, will pass.