Hello. I am that annoying person who pushes their shopping trolley slightly too close to your ankles for comfort. I don’t like red lights, or people who dillydally in picking up the dice when it’s their turn to roll in Monopoly, and I especially hate it when my wifi is slow. You see, I’m in a rush. Perpetually. Mind and body are always in motion, and that’s just the way I like it. I’m the woman who doesn’t need to write a list because she can remember it all, the woman who collects words and facts the way her daughter collects apps on her ipad, the wife who can’t believe her husband’s forgetfulness because it makes no sense to her, the mother who sews book day costumes while she’s baking gluten free, egg free, fundraiser cupcakes and never forgets a school note.
Well, I used to be. It’s just that I’ve always had a snappy brain. It wakes me up with ideas; it bullies me when I try to rest. My brain is a Type A New York executive, or a movie newspaper editor who barks orders about deadlines while slamming his fist on the desk. My husband likes to ponder and sometimes (all the time) he is maddeningly slow at getting stuff done. He gets distracted. I stay on task. If you could hear our brains working, his would be some kind of mashup – a bit of classical violin that morphs into blues guitar just before you’re hit with some house music. Mine would be simpler: a fast ticking clock, a metronome, the quick snapping of fingers.
Well, it used to be. Now that I have dysautonomia, things are a little different upstairs.
Now it’s not uncommon for ME to ask HIM to remind me to pick up a child, or hand in a note. He slows his pace when we’re out so that I can keep up. Always the night owl, now I’m in bed just after nine. Things take a long time. Last week I made a dress and it took me three days. Before this illness I would have sewed that sucker in three hours.
I’m part of this POTS support group that emphasizes positivity. There’s a fair bit of talk about silver linings in this group too, and I have to admit that it’s taken me a while to find one. I mean, there’s not a lot to celebrate about suddenly finding yourself with a body that behaves like a total jerk. But here I am, silver lining firmly in sight.
You know that dress that took three days? I didn’t mind it. I didn’t get annoyed, not even when my overlocker kept breaking a thread, or when I had to unpick something. This weekend I waited on the path for my husband to stop faffing around inside and finally get to the car and I didn’t mind that either. I sat down and I watched a freaking bee collect pollen on a lavender bush. And I liked watching the bee. She was fascinating.
My whole life has been spent in a state of high energy, which incidentally also feels like anxiety, and now that I have this thing, this dysautonomia, that has changed. I can sit without thinking of what I should be doing. I can breathe slowly and look around me. I’m no longer in any kind of rush, which is good, because with this heart, I’m not going anywhere fast.
It could be because my blood pressure is normal, or my blood volume, or my brain is dull, or maybe it’s side effects of the meds…. or anything. I don’t care. I need a silver lining; I thought I wouldn’t find one. I’ll take what I can get.
So now I am the slow person in the supermarket. I’m actually the slow person everywhere. And as much as I wouldn’t wish a chronic illness on anyone, sometimes I look at all the busy people, all the rushing people, and I want to tell them what they’re missing.
I see all the things now. And for a writer, that’s not such a bad thing.