A couple of years ago, Johnny and I came up with a brilliant idea. Instead of returning from vacation late on Sunday night, we chose to arrive home by noon, giving ourselves the afternoon to recoup, relax, and get ready for the week ahead. It was fabulous. We found ourselves thoroughly enjoying our time away, because we'd eased our way back into reality. Come Monday, we weren't trying so desperately to catch up. Instead, we were fresh and ready to go, allowing us to appreciate our vacation even more.
Since then, we've actually broadened our brilliant idea, when possible. We give ourselves an entire day to regroup, by returning on Saturday, rather than Sunday. We unpack, do laundry, sort mail - or sometimes, we just relax. It allows us to slowly transition from vacation to the real world...and in the midst of this renovation and a busy Pillbag season, I count on that day of rest.
I would have never guessed that cutting down on our time away would actually enhance the effects of the vacation itself. Conversely, who knew that maxing out our vacation time would actually diminishing the benefits of getting away in the first place?
I've learned the same premise to be true with lupus. I used to think that pushing my limits and maxing out my energy was the way to assert myself against lupus. I didn't want to feel held back by my disease, so instinctively, I thought pushing ahead was the best approach. I figured the harder I pushed, the more productive I would be, and the better I would feel about myself. But the exact opposite turned out to be true. The more I pushed, the worse I felt, physically and emotionally.
This poem I wrote that's included in my book sums it up:
The harder I push, the sicker I get
The sicker I get, the less I resemble myself
The less I resemble myself, the hard I push
to try and regain some semblance of who I used to be.
---Despite Lupus: How to Live Well with a Chronic Illness, page 85
I've learned the hard way that maxing myself out doesn't reap the benefits I want. In fact, on a daily basis, I find that more I give in and the less I push, the better I'll feel. If I'm tired, I rest. If I'm feeling sluggish, I pass on an errand. If I'm not thinking clearly, I skip a blog post. I realize the race against lupus is a long one, and there's no reason to sprint too early. I plan on lapping her many times in the future, but I can only do that if I take it slow and steady!