Sunday, September 13, 2009

One Foot in Front of the Other

When Michael doesn’t feel good, he knows it and slows down to accommodate. That’s it. When I don’t feel good, I go through a catechism of checking whether there’s anything I don’t want to do to see if not feeling good might be a psychosomatic reaction. The difference is that he trusts himself, I don’t. The nice thing about spending so much time together, though, is that if he’s feeling crummy and cutting back in consequence, the chances are high that if I’m also feeling crummy, it’s real and I don’t have to spend as much time examining my motives or real state of being. It’s frustrating that he has (and always has had) so much clearer a sense of himself and his body, when my own sense is so much fuzzier.

That’s a long way of saying that we’re both a bit under the weather. Of course, I’ve been in a slow gear since the prednisone tapering started, and it’s affecting my mood, too. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what it has to be, since my explorations haven’t revealed any other (new) reason to be as glum as I have been in the last week or so.

We’re not particularly suffering as empty-nesters, the more so since Shea seems happy as a clam in her new surroundings. The peacefulness of it all--plus the increased flexibility--is nice. While we still eat at the dining room table, neither of us are as vigilant as were when setting an example. Last night, we even put something on the table in the cooking container, rather than decanting it into a serving dish. Quel horreur. My mood is also not likely stemming from the larger context, as having settled on my own immediate course of action brought peace of mind, as least as to what I can do. My own work is interesting, fun and going well. My new work home is welcoming.

Thus, I’m all-but convinced that my current state of mind/body is being driven by the experiments in brain chemistry I’m living. The goal is to stimulate my own adrenal system to work without long-term external boosting. The specter of long-term supplementation is unappealing, and has side effects it would be nice to avoid. If gutting it out now will help get to that outcome, it’s worth it. One option we’ve discussed with Dr. Thoughtful is the prospect that my unaided cortisol levels never revert to “desirable,” (18-20) but stay in the current region (11). If I can function at that level, it might be better simply to live with it there than take on any additional long-term drug regimen. That might mean accepting a lower level of energy and drive for the long-term. While that doesn’t seem like a lot of fun to me--and is by no means a certain outcome, as it’s possible this is just my idiosyncratic baseline anyway--even that prospect seems better than taking some kind of supplement forever. There is some distance to cover before those choices have to be made.

Dr. Thoughtful warned that the tapering process might be “bumpy” and that seems an accurate description of where we are. With a little gumption, it’s a workable situation, even if my productivity is way down: it’s still high enough to get by. Since I tend to be a burst worker, with fallow and productive periods, I’m trying to think of this simply as an extended fallow period with the prospect of great creativity and output once it ends. It’s not perfect, but as with so much of this adventure, it’s sure better than almost all of the alternatives.

Our September is warm, sunny and beautiful. We’ve been walking in the parks, which is its own form of therapy. While tomorrow brings new hurdles to jump, today should be calm, restorative and beautiful here in Urbana. May yours be as well.

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