The Necessary Bug

“It’s hard for you to throttle down,” Jeff recently told me during one of our many Roommate Kitchen Talks.

And he’s absolutely right.

If I’m not teaching, I’m writing.  If I’m not writing, I’m playing (or coaching or captaining) Ultimate.  If I’m not playing Ultimate, I’m doing yoga or lifting weights or going for a run.  If I’m not doing one of those things, I’m having a drink with a friend or tea with my boyfriend.  And if I’m not doing any of those things?  Well, I guess I actually sleep now and then.

I often have to give myself permission to relax.  I plan my down time.  “R&R” isn’t high on my list of priorities.  I’m always running from one thing to the next at warp speed. And that’s usually okay.  In fact, I thrive under those conditions.  I’m more energetic; more productive; happier.

But that isn’t to say that it doesn’t catch up to me.

This time around, my body took control of the situation.  It had been an especially stressful couple of weeks.  As usual, I wasn’t sleeping enough, or getting quite enough fuel.  I was emotionally drained, trying to work through some personal stuff that was keeping me up at night.  My calendar was packed with meetings and practices and grading and social activities.

And so, following a four-hour Ultimate practice on a Texas Summer Saturday Morning, I crashed.  My body worked with me through the grueling heat and physical strain.  It cooperated.  But afterward…it just powered down.

Reality hit:  I was sick.

My throat started to hurt and my nose grew increasingly congested.  My energy plummeted.  Food tasted unsatisfying (which is really saying something for me).  I skipped a visit from an old friend, missed a baby shower, and bailed on a party that I really wanted to attend.  I fell asleep, fully clothed, lights on, surrounded by random items on the bed at 9:00pm.  And I slept until 8:00am the next morning.

I managed to get up for breakfast on Sunday morning.  But then I lay down again and slept away most of the morning, my laptop quietly glowing with reruns of 30 Rock on Netflix.

I did little else on Sunday.  I rallied and made some vegetable soup; I read a few chapters in my book; I think I may have talked on the phone.  But I went to sleep early again that night and slept through until my early-Monday wakeup.

It’s extremely rare that I let a weekend pass with so little activity.  I don’t generally sleep in very late, and even when I intend to go to sleep early I rarely accomplish the feat.  But this time I just didn’t have a choice.  It was out of my hands.  My body had surrendered and thrown my mind into auto-pilot.

Miraculously – and logically – I felt better on Monday and Tuesday.  The cold that had knocked me on my ass was rapidly retreating.  And my own fear of illness had pushed me to take better care of myself; to let a few days pass without a workout; to get sufficient sleep; to make plans for my meals.

I hate being sick.  But in some twisted way I needed to get this cold, with its snot and its scratchy throat and its headaches.  I hated it, but I’m kinda thankful for it, too.

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