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Living With the Results of Pushing My Body Too Far

Everybody knows their limits, disability/illness or not. You know how far your body will go and you know just how much to push it in order to help it become stronger but not to overdo it. Yet we all seem to have our days, weeks or months were we’ve pushed too far and suffer the consequences and for me, that time is now. 

Last week at work, I worked double my contracted hours to help cover absence in the office but lucky for me, the majority of these hours I could do from home on my company laptop. So rather than working a standard Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. day  I was starting work at 6:30 a.m. and not getting finished until 10:30 p.m. (minus three hours break in between). Again, this isn’t all bad, I mean it’s just sitting at a computer all day which didn’t bother me. The only thing it was really affecting was my medication as it makes me very drowsy, leading me to normally go to bed early or take a nap throughout the day which didn’t happen this week.

No, where I seemed to overwork myself was that I had also been allocated several client visits this same week, going to a client’s house to update their paperwork and have general review for them. This took up two hours of my three-hour break I mentioned earlier; the other hour was spent on traveling to and from work. So I worked straight through Monday to Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., no breaks. This caused a lot of exhaustion, a bit of pain in my body due to the constant sitting position I seemed to be in, but again it didn’t seem at all that bad… until it all caught up with me on the Friday evening. 

That Friday, I was out of the office and again walking around doing reviews for clients and staff. I don’t know exactly what triggered it; if it was the sudden movement after sitting for so long, or the exhaustion catching up with me or even my medication kicking in, but something triggered. Long story short, I spent all of Saturday in bed, in pain. I was unable to move my body; even my jaw was clenched, shut stiff. I hardly slept due to the pain and to top it all off, my immune system completely shut down. So there I was, laying in bed as if rigor mortis had began to happen in my body. I was unable to talk or move, all the while having cold-like symptoms which led to swelling, seeping eyes and a nose that seemed to be running in a marathon down my face. Attractive, eh?

It took me around three hours to just warm up and be able to talk again, allowing me to ask my partner to help me to the bathroom and into a hot bath, in an attempt to loosen my muscles up and give me back some mobility, which worked to an extent. But after taking my morning medication and a bite to eat, the cold and medication kicked in and I ended up passing out for the rest of the day, not waking again until late that evening. From here I was a bit more myself, just with a cold. My mobility was back, but with it came all the shooting pains in my legs, hips and back from being so tense and clenched up for such a long period of time. More food, more medication and back to sleep I went until the following afternoon.

It’s now Wednesday and I am still not fully right. My sleep is all over the place and I find I am still quite stiff when it comes to walking around. All because I knocked my normal/body routine out of sync. It has definitely opened my eyes to my limitations and how important my routine is, especially if I want to be making changes to it. It’s almost like a reality check reminding me that yes, I can do anything I want to and be “normal” (so to speak) but I just need to take it in steps and not all at once. At the end of the day, it’s my body and I need to look after it, so there’s no point making it any worse. I need to remember my limits and push them, of course, but not to a point where I will end up causing myself more pain.

But I do strangely enjoy pushing my body too far. I know that sounds twisted but hear me out: I enjoy the trial and error experience with pushing myself to achieve goals. It allows me to further understand and develop my knowledge of what my illness and body can handle. Many people assume that when living with an invisible illness you “just know” everything about it, but that is not the case for me. I am constantly learning about my own illness and enjoy finding out new things about it (weirdly).

At times with invisible illnesses we feel just that, invisible, as well as feeling frustrated for people not understanding that these illnesses are real and can be debilitating on many different levels. But the reality is everyone is the same in a sense, illnesses or not: we fall, we learn and we develop from that, understanding our strengths and weaknesses to help us continue on fulfilling our life goals. 

If you have a similar story, I would love to hear it so leave a comment below.