5 a.m.

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Here I am writing at 5 a.m.  It feels good to be sitting here drinking coffee and writing.  This past week has been a blur.  I’ve been so sick that I haven’t been able to do much of anything that wasn’t absolutely required of me.  It started last Sunday.  At first I thought it was allergies, and I continued to work as usual.  I couldn’t miss work on Monday, because I had my monthly board meeting.  On Tuesday, I had a committee meeting that could not be missed. 

By Wednesday, there was no denying that this was not allergies.  I woke up around 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning thinking that I was having a heart attack.  I was laying on my back and gasping for air.  Turns out, the cat was sleeping on my very congested chest.  I pitched him off and wandered out of bed.  Oh, boy…was I ever sick now.  I grabbed my phone, sent a quick email to work to let everyone know that I would not be in that day, and climbed back in bed to sleep until I could call the doctor. 

My doctor was not impressed with my work ethic.  He told me that I was exhausted.  Yeah…I knew that!  (Sometimes I wonder if I even remember what rested feels like anymore.)  Yes, I agreed.  I am exhausted — now I had pneumonia, too.  He prescribed some fantastic medications.  The pharmacist said, “Wow, when you get sick, you really do it right!”  My doctor told me to stay home from work for the rest of the week.  REST.  I was supposed to rest.

Days later now, and I am getting better.  I’m not sure if I have ever felt this level of exhaustion before.  While I did not take the rest of the week off, I have been resting.  I compromised.  I worked half-days and slept away the afternoon, early evening, and all night long.  I’ve spent the past few days in and out of sleep.  I have been so out of it that the weekend snuck up on me.

Ah…the weekend.  This isn’t a normal weekend.  I was leaving to attend a five-day conference on Saturday afternoon.  T wanted me to stay home.  My mom told me to “Tell Them” that I couldn’t go.  I’m not sure who she thinks “They” are!  I am THEY, and I said I had to go.  Why am I here then if I am sick?  Oh, that’s easy.  I’m looking at this as a mini hospital stay.  🙂  I have a lovely room.  I don’t have to cook or clean up after anyone.  On Monday, I will not have to go to the office.  Yes, I will attend conference sessions, but there will be plenty of downtime, too. 

My assistant and I drove to the conference together.  We took a cute, little company fleet car, a hybrid that runs almost soundlessly.  She drove, because I am still half-looped on medication.  It was a lovely three-hour drive.  The countryside was beautiful.  It was sunny.  The conversation was good.  We had dinner with friends also attending the conference, and I was in bed by midnight.  There will be no partying for me on this trip!

I woke up a little before 5:00, and laid there in the quiet.  Coffee!  I really wanted a cup of coffee, so here I am drinking my coffee while I write.  I have a relaxing day stretched out before me.  I don’t have to attend a session until 2:30 this afternoon.  We came early, because my assistant is going to attend a basic training session beginning first thing in the morning.  I plan on getting a little more rest and then taking a nice leisurely walk around town. 

This is the National conference for the organization that I am affiliated with.  It’s always a good time seeing old friends, and the host communities highlight the best their area has to offer.  This year, we are in Iowa, and tonight’s festivities are going to be at the State Fairgrounds.  We will be eating carnival food, milking cows, and throwing cow patties.  I can’t think of anything that I’d rather do than hang out with cows! 

I’m still fighting off the tail end of this illness.  My energy level is not back to normal.  I feel delicate and breakable.  For some reason, I feel a bit tearful at times.  (I’m feeling sorry for myself!)  This has been such a difficult past year, and this illness is the end result.  Oh yes, and I blame myself for that, too.  I have not been very kind to me…and it’s time to change that.  I have spent too much time, effort, and energy this past year on things that produced nothing but heartache…and eventually illness. 

This illness has given me a chance to take a step back.  I have lived the past few days drifting in and out of sleep in a dreamlike state.  Now that I am finally waking up and feeling better, I feel cautious.  I don’t want to jump back onto the exhaustion track.  There has to be a better, kinder way to live my life.  I’m not sure what changes I need to make yet, but changes need to be made.  A year and a half of unhappiness has ended up with pneumonia and exhaustion.  I am mentally and physically wiped out.  Being wiped out isn’t a good or fun thing, but I’m trying to look at it a little bit like wiping the slate clean.  It’s my choice not to allow this stressful lifestyle and behavior to continue.  Call this my wake-up call.

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