I caught myself, only this morning, telling myself that 'I don't want to be invincible - just normal.'
Normal, in this instance, means that I want to be able to stand up without my heart rate passing 180 beats per minute, that I'd like to have a hot shower (standing up) without ending up in a grey and dizzy heap on the floor, and that I'd like to bake a cake and then be able to eat it. Not all of it (though that might be fun), but just a normal slice, with a cup of coffee.
Is that too much to ask?
Apparently, today it is far, far too much to ask. My normal today has involved taking my medications while horizontal (this requires a drinking straw and much patience, among other things) and then remaining horizontal until they kicked in. I tackled the stairs bottom-first, being careful not to hit the cat when I threw my crutches down the stairs ahead of me. And I am now horizontal on the sofa with a mug of peppermint tea, where I plan to stay for the rest of the day, apart from a brief upright moment once I have the strength, so that I can switch on the television or fetch my favourite recipe book so that I can dream about cake.
Some days I feel closer to the dream of normality than others, but in reality, my body is never going to cooperate with a Hollywood view of normal. I am never going to run through central London in beautiful stilettos, perfectly blow-dried hair bouncing as I run. I do not swing my Mulberry handbag nonchalantly while kicking leaves in Hyde Park, or juggle shopping bags to make space to carry a tray of perfect cupcakes from the Hummingbird bakery before going home to create a beautiful meal for my perfect family.
The first step is to accept that there is no such thing as normal, and that the above paragraph is the stuff of dreams. The second, to accept that I have to work with what I've got. My normal.
Accepting my own normal gives me the opportunity to make the best of what I have. I can't run in stilettos (or at all, for that matter), so rather than spend my days dreaming and shopping online for yet more impractical shoes, feeling sad that I will never get to go out and kick leaves while wearing them, I am planning an outing in the car to see the changing leaves. We'll take advantage of the next sunny day, put the roof down on the car, and ooh and aah at the different colours as we drive through groves of trees. This is a dream that has a future.
Even realistic dreams take planning. To make these dreams reality, I will have to rest more either side of the fun stuff. I may need to increase my medications, or juggle the schedule according to which I take my medications. We will fill the car with supportive pillows and blankets. It might be that we don't manage to see the changing leaves this year, but go out to see the first snowfall, snowdrops, bluebells, or groves of daffodils in the spring.
But there is no sadness in planning like this. The sadness comes from wishing for things that cannot be; longing for a life that isn't mine. Accepting my life and my normal gives me the opportunity to look forward to a future of real, attainable achievements.
Like managing to get up, turn on the television and find myself a book about cake.
This blog was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J