I have always been someone who had a plan. Who then set that plan into motion. When I ran into roadblocks, there was usually some way around them, under them, sometimes even...through them.
I was talking to a friend recently and I started working out when the last time was that I felt functional. When I had drive and energy to implement the plan I was currently working on.
That isn't to say that over the years I haven't had issues, just that, given enough chemicals, I could keep going. My last major setback prior to the time I last felt functional was 1994 when I was rear-ended. which meant a double whiplash injury to my neck. The first one happened when I was 18 and was a side-to-side injury. The one in 1994 was a front to back whiplash which meant my neck was really in bad shape. But again, I did the therapy, took the chemicals and eventually (mostly) recovered from that even though it took several years. Whiplash - the gift that keeps on giving...
So. Last time I felt like a functioning human being? 2006. Summer.
It had been a dream of mine to participate in large professional level craft fairs and I'd done all the big ones in western Canada. I finally felt like I had enough experience and enough energy to go for the gusto and try the big one in Toronto. If we were going to fly all the way out there, it would have to be for the whole thing, not just four or five days. Given the cost - air fare, hotel, food, booth fee, I needed X dollars worth of inventory. So I set to with a will and in the space of 7 weeks over the summer, wove nearly 200 scarves. No that's not a typo. Four scarves a day, every day for 7 weeks. On top of what I already had in inventory, plus what I wove after that.
By the end of the year, however, I wasn't feeling great. Hindsight is a wonderful thing - 20/20 - and I now realize that by the end of 2006 I was beginning to have symptoms of cardiac blockages. Fatigue, shortness of breath on exertion - written off to allergies/asthma.
By the end of 2007 the fatigue was extreme. I'd stopped buying clothing because I felt sure I wouldn't be able to wear them out. I joked with a friend that one day Doug would come home and find me propped up in the loom, dead.
I tend to gallows humour, what can I say.
Thing was, I really actually felt that I wasn't going to be around for much longer, but without having much in the way of symptoms specific enough to indicate what I was dealing with.
The end of February 2008 my younger brother died, quite suddenly, at work. The coroner phoned me after the post mortem to say that his heart had been so filled with cholesterol that even if he'd been in hospital when he collapsed, they could have done nothing for him. Then she asked if this was common in the family and I said yes. "Then" she said "you need to go get checked out."
On May 9 (our anniversary) I was on the table in Vancouver having three stents installed - 80, 70 and 60% blockages (with lots more little ones).
Since then I have had 10 years of various and sundry health issues. Each time I felt I was back on the road to recovery, something else would go 'wrong' and I would have to deal with that issue - do the tests, take the drugs, go to therapy. And after each one, my life was more constrained. I had less energy, less drive, less incentive to pick up the pieces.
It has been 10 years of watching the horizons of my ability to do things shift, closer and closer, smaller and smaller. It has been 10 years of accepting the new 'normal' and trying to adjust my expectations of what I can and cannot do. What I am willing to fight to get back - if I even could.
The older I get, the more my body is breaking down, sometimes in quite unexpected ways. Healing takes longer. Pain lingers longer. Energy is not to be found, some days.
Inside I still feel like I'm 34 but outside? I am all of my 68 and counting years.
On the other hand, I'm still here to do the counting. My brother, and many others, aren't.
When I started the cancer drug it was a long adjustment period and in the end the dose kept being reduced until there was no more reduction to be had. Then I hoped that my body would get used to it and that the adverse effects would become less annoying. Less of a hindrance.
Well, I've been on the lowest possible dose since spring, so about six months. This, it appears, is as good as it is going to get.
Acceptance means that I no longer chide myself when I simply cannot do something. Or at least, not as much. Acceptance means that I adjust my expectations of what I can and cannot do and begin to say no to things, no matter how interesting they might be. Right now I am working through a series of deadlines that I set up about two years ago (or more). Long ago enough that I was a lot more functional than I am right now. They all seemed imminently do-able at the time. Not so much now.
So instead of ramping up plans for the coming year or two, I am not seeking any more events to add to my schedule. I have officially 'retired' from teaching for guilds. I no longer have the energy to scramble to find a guild or group of guilds to bring me into an area, then deal with workshop handouts, sending out yarns/instructions, booking flights and making travel arrangements, never mind the on-the-ground transportation and the long days, strange beds, shifting time zones and jet lag.
As I re-imagine my life, I am looking for ways to keep weaving down my stash but also cutting back the travel involved in doing large sales. We are doing Calgary instead of Vancouver this year so that we would have a week of rest between the one last weekend and leaving for Calgary. I may - or may not - do an out-of-town show next year.
While Ms Editor puts the final touches on the ms, I am working on my marketing plans. Thank goodness for the internet!
Once the Calgary show, the trip to San Jose and pushing the button to publish is over, I have a weaving job lined up for December, and then in January the registration for the conference will go live. I have also heard from some of the Olds students that they hope to ship their homework over the winter. So I will be plenty busy with conference, marking and stash reduction through the spring. And hopefully shipping books.
Today I have been number crunching and working on an introductory offer. I have heard the requests and will work towards filling those requests, as best I can.
But as for adding more to my plate beyond the conference? Semi-retirement is beginning to look really, really attractive...