21 Mar

This week I learned the importance of pacing and balance

I’ve been a bit absent on social media and at the blog. And it’s been due to the high amount of work I’ve been attempting of late. Getting the last details of this novel I’m about to write nailed down, freelance work, a large coding project, and more was occupying mental space and time. I’d lost weeks of work due to being drugged when I messed up my back, so I was also frustrated and trying to catch up. Add that to feeling very down about being housebound, and an ugly winter, and I’m just out… out of whatever it is I need.

Cal, one of my twin daughters, went in last week for routine surgery to remove a cyst. Still, even though small, she was fully put under for it. Scary for me as a parent to watch her get the mask and get wheeled out. She was a trooper, but the couple of nights leading up to the event I got very little sleep. Nervous dad.

Last Thursday, we were up before six in the morning to get her ready and to the hospital, then drop her sister off at daycare. Spent the morning in the hospital with her.

Everything went super.


But between that and all the work, I was starting to get a bit wobbly. Saturday found me in a state of general malaise due to a head cold, that added to the exhaustion, and I found myself unable to control my pulse. As the rate kept remaining high none of my methods to control it worked, and I felt rest and balance, what I needed, were already out of my control.

I didn’t want my pulse to be racing because I had a flight on Sunday to catch. But late Saturday, I realized I couldn’t get my rates under 115bpm and I was really uncomfortable. I called it, and we packed the kids up at 2am and went into the ER. I felt horrible about doing it. Disrupting Emily’s sleep, scaring the kids a little. But I was unable to control it and scared.

After getting hooked up to the EKG machine and my blood tested, they also ran an additional cat scan. It was a low-key affair, I had a feeling it was mainly stress and exhaustion triggering the event. And by early morning, the doctor had run enough tests and monitored me to come to the same conclusion. Acute anxiety plus exhaustion and a head cold. I took a picture of me smiling for the camera that night as a selfie and a mark, just to look back at:

Photo 1

I asked the doctor if I was safe to travel. He cleared me. The next day, late in the night and still dog-fucking-exhausted, but no longer with a racing pulse, I checked into a rental house me and some writer friends had gotten for a week of writing.

Over the next few days, I didn’t set an alarm clock, I enjoyed good company, ate clean, and sat in the sun and soaked up the rays and tried to shake this nasty headache and sinus pressure. I swam in the pool each day. I wrote as I felt like it, and still have blown away my usual daily average. I’ve taken naps at random.

I feel like a hundred pound vest that I didn’t even realize I was wearing has melted off.

And today I took another selfie, so I could compare my face with what I looked like on Sunday:

Photo 2

The last time I was in the ER was in 2009. Since then I’ve slowly lost 35 or more pounds, (over 35 of fat, gained some muscle), gotten more active within the confines of what my heart defect allows, and gotten more hours I can work a day back. But I’ve loaded myself up, and I’ve worked hard this winter, and for the last year. I’ve just been go. I’ve gotten more accomplished the last 18 months than I ever accomplished at any point in my 20s.

But I do need to remember that not taking a moment to take care of me has consequences still. I’ve gotten way healthier, but I can still burn out. And my burn out has health consequences.

Each day I’m getting stronger and my reserves are refilling. Which is good, I have a novel ahead that needs done on a tight schedule. I will need to pay attention to myself and not throw myself into the wall too much while writing it.

There’s still a little bit of stress. I’ve paid of a ton of debt (why I’ve worked so hard this last 18 months) and am trying to secure a brighter future here. Getting a kid in for a minor surgery and myself in for a catscan and heart-related emergency visit will have some big repercussions on the pocket book. It’ll slow some of the speed I want to pay off debt with.

But I’m glad to be kicking still. And I’m grateful to be here in Phoenix, writing for a living, in the sun after a shit winter, and that I’m able to refill those reserves.

And I’ve learned I need to pay just a little bit more attention to how I’m doing. Something I knew I might be screwing up when I first set out on this mad dash of working as much as possible 18 months ago.