When My Health Keeps Me 'Close Enough to Normal'


The house is a mess. Nearly every surface has something on it that needs to be put away. Six months ago we moved in, and left my knick-knacks in boxes on the floor until I could sort through them.

They’re still there.

Dishes stand piled on the counter.

A single piece of trash lies near my feet. I long to pick it up and get rid of it, but the garbage can is 12 whole steps away.

Then tomorrow comes.

I have energy!

I have motivation!

I walk to the neighbor’s house and play tag with my niece for nearly 15 minutes. Of course, then I have to rely on help to make her understand that I’m done. Really, I can’t do that anymore.

But hey, I got out of bed and moved for a half-hour. I must be “normal,” right?

Normal.

I can make supper. I just, you know, can’t make side dishes.

I can go for a run. I just, you know, only make it halfway to the road.

I can dance the night away, as long as my partner doesn’t mind catching me if I fall from exhaustion.

Normal.

I can look normal to my students for the few hours I work per week. Usually.

I can look normal at the mall as long as there are benches nearby.

I can look normal at the party if I wear makeup to cover my pale face.

Sometimes I even believe I am normal. That’s dangerous territory.

I watch as the little old lady stacks chairs at church. I believe I’m normal, but I don’t help her. I must be lazy, right?

I believe I’m normal, but the dishes lie unwashed in the sink. I must be a terrible housewife, right?

I believe I’m normal, but the house is a mess and I’m still on the couch. I must not care enough, right?

Nope.

I’m just close enough to normal to feel guilty when I can’t work.

I’m just close enough to normal to feel frustrated when I realize my body will not take another step.

I’m just close enough to normal to fool the people around me. Usually.

So I look around at my messy house, my dirty dishes, my cancelled appointments, and remind myself that I am not lazy, not a failure, not incompetent. I remind myself that I can’t, and that’s OK.

I’m just trapped in my not quite normal body.

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