I'm sick. Oh, yes, so sick I can't ignore it. So sick I can't keep anything in me and the panic feeling of needing to purge while dreading the act is pretty much constant. I can't stand properly. Everything aches.
I had my warnings. I don't have time to be sick, so I ignored my body's irritable poking, treated it like whining. Now, here I am. Laid flat. Reminded just who is in charge here, after all.
My parents came this morning to visit. They were understanding in the way they are - disappointed, worried, wishing they knew so they could have avoided bothering us (and coming to the infectious zone) as if calling them should have been the first priority. My dad couldn't help but blame me a bit "it must be losing too much weight too fast" (I've lost about 15 pounds in the last SIX MONTHS).
My mom asked if I wanted her to stay to help with the kids rather than head to their next destination (they live far away, fit in lots of visits each trip). She asked with her shoes on, my dad half out the door, the reluctance in her voice barely masked despite her best efforts. She means well. She would have stayed. Neither of them gave protest when we said we'd be fine, though it must have been clear that I was not fine, not at all.
My kids don't understand. They are ready to burst into tears at slightest provocation. They keep running to my room while I'm resting to ask if I'm better yet, startling me awake. I try to be there for them but fall back, exhausted; I run from the room for another toilet break. They bang on the door.
My husband is quietly just doing. Doing and doing and taking care of the kids. He would take care of me, too, if he had an idea how, but I can't bring myself to ask one more thing of him when he's carrying the full family burden and we don't even have any food since today is my grocery day.
So it's me. Can I care for myself? After 4+ years of letting my body fall to the bottom of the priorities, pushing my own needs and desires aside for everyone else, can I take one day for me without guilt, without shame?
This time, I have no choice but to do it. It's how I let myself think about it, and how I feel about it, that poses a choice.
I'm working on it. I'm closer than I've ever been. The pangs of guilt around my parents dissipated very fast. The pangs of guilt around my kids, I've accepted and gently handed them the responsibility to try to understand. The pangs of guilt around my husband taking the burden - those are harder, because he would be further burdened by even knowing they exist. But I'm almost there - more grateful than guilty.
This illness is a check-in on how I'm doing with me. I can't give myself an A+, but I can see my progress. Two years ago the mess in my mind would have been as bad as the mess in my body. Today, that's not the case.
The real test will come when I'm slightly better, when I have a choice between treating myself gingerly or pushing always to the limit.
Right now, I think I'll just go back to bed.