Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The New Normal

Of all the changes over the last year, my diagnosis with an autoimmune disorder has been the most disruptive. There's a process that goes with the news that goes from shock to massive relief at having an answer to grief.

Getting to acceptance takes time. It also takes some redefinition: of your life, your activities, and your expectations.

This came up in conversation lately with my husband and a friend of ours. She had come to visit, and asked me how I was feeling.

"I'm doing really well," I said, and meant it. I've healed really well from our youngest's birth, the transition from one kid to two has been as painless as I could have hoped for (which is to say, not painless at all, but far better than I had feared), and I'm rather blissfully happy.

Then, later, when I yawned and rubbed my eyes, she asked if I was tired. I said yes, and mentioned that my pain levels had been up lately.

She frowned at me. "That's what I was asking about earlier."

"She does that to me all the time," my husband said.

I had to explain that it's like this: I'm in pain. Sometimes very little, sometimes a good bit. That's not going to change. Well, it might. I went into remission when I was pregnant, for example. But it very well may not, and it's safer to assume that it won't.

So when people ask how I'm feeling, I have a choice to make. I can base the answer on my pain level, and decide that I'm just going to be Not OK from now until forever. Or I can base the answer, and how I think about my day, on... well, everything else.

Don't get me wrong: that doesn't mean I'm not going to bitch. I will, and I do, and sometimes it really does start to grind me down. But I can't, and won't, let it define my life.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

On Friday, I was walking past the stairs up to our second floor. I looked up and saw my elder daughter sitting on the landing. Next to her sat the cat's food bowl.
 "I only ate on piece!" she said.
I raised an eyebrow. "You ate catfood?"
There was a long pause. ""
I put my hands on my hips. "Did it taste yucky?"
 So that's pretty much my life these days.
You may notice I've changed things around in here. I've screened my previous entries for now; most of them will be eventually reposted. But it was time for a re-evaluation. After all, since the last time I posted I have:

  • Gotten my PhD
  • Gone on the job market in my field
  • Had a handful of interviews for some very nice jobs that nevertheless went to other people
  • Felt massively relieved when those jobs went to other people
  • Realized that was a sign and gave up on the idea of Academia as a career, at least in the traditional sense
  • Been diagnosed with autoimmune issues
  • Been through a challenging pregnancy that ended up with the birth of Punk #2
I think it's safe to say I'm in a different place now, so it was time for a makeover. I also wanted to write in a more concrete way about activism, chronic illness, and parenting, so it felt like time to come back here and start it up again. I hope you'll join me.