Stomach Bugs And Unpredictability

Stomach Bugs And Unpredictability

Sometimes I struggle to find the motivation to do anything, so that when it comes, I have to chase it down no matter how unwise it might seem at the time. Like on Monday. I hadn’t managed to get anything much finished over the weekend, but when I found myself able to think in essay-writing terms, I stayed up until 2am writing what turned out to be the longest non-coursework essay I’ve written for Cambridge, at 4,400 words. According to my friend who read it earlier, it wasn’t bad, either.

But mostly I just lack the motivation, the energy or the physical ability to do things.

For the last three days, I’ve been in bed with some kind of stomach bug. When it hit on Wednesday, I thought at first that I’d glutened myself, although I couldn’t think how it could possibly have happened given that all the food I own is gluten-free and I’m pretty careful about surfaces, too. It seemed sudden, although when I thought about it, I hadn’t been feeling great the day before — I’m just so used to stomachaches I usually ignore them.

There’ve been some benefits to spending a couple of days in bed. For a start, I think my body needed it for reasons more than just the stomach bug, because I’m endlessly fatigued by my own existence. It gave me the chance to rewatch a couple of films on Netflix that I’d meant to get around to before now and hadn’t had a chance. I even read a book or two. But the complete inability to spend any amount of time upright, or to do any work, has been a problem.

Not least because dissertation form 2, which requires me to have an actual title and some idea of what I’m writing, is due next week. And, like last year when this form took me by surprise and in a way which I swore wouldn’t happen again this year, I am very underprepared to submit this form. I know vaguely what I’m writing about, but it’s changed slightly just in the past week, and as a result I don’t have the specifics that I need.

I thought yesterday evening that I was getting over the bug and would be able to function today, but it turns out my body is completely exhausted by illness, because I was unable to get out of bed until the afternoon, and even sitting upright for long enough to write this is making me woozy again. I’m doing my best to do some reading, in the hope that I can get something from that to help with the dissertation scenario, but I’m sure I’m missing things I would otherwise pick up on.

These kinds of illnesses are the reason I try and get ahead when I feel okay, though it’s always a struggle to motivate myself on the off chance I’ll get ill later that week. They’re the reason that when I have a focused evening, I stay up late to finish what I’m doing instead of leaving it until the next day, because I don’t know how I’ll be feeling the next day.

I used to make so many plans and timetables and schedules, but I have no idea how to do that anymore. Everyone always says planning ahead is the key to staying on top of work, but how can I plan ahead when I don’t know what I’ll be capable of from one day to the next? It seems like the only constant these days is that I’ll catch every bug going around, and always when I have deadlines to meet. I don’t know what my body is going to allow me to do — whether I’ll have an essay finished and polished several days before it’s due in, or whether I’ll be sending apologetic emails asking for yet another extension.

Honestly, this is the most stressful thing about my health issues. Sure, the pain sucks, and plays into this as well — no matter how ‘well’ I am, I can’t concentrate when just touching the back of my chair with my shoulders sends pain through them in waves, nor can I type if my wrists are stiff and aching. But if that was consistent, I could plan around it and work in different ways. It’s the unpredictability that gets me — the fact that one day I’ll be fine, and the next I won’t be able to move without co-codamol; that one day I’ll be working productively and the next my head will be too fogged-up for me to think.

I’m doubting my decision to take part in NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve never failed, not since my first year in 2009. And I don’t want this year to be the first — I’d rather not take part, than try and fail, because I’m that kind of person. I also want to write. I feel like there’s a certain creative part of my brain that ends up getting shut away during uni term times, and it needs some kind of outlet. Writing makes me happy, so I want to be able to do this. But will it be one thing more that I can’t manage? One more set of deadlines I don’t think I can reach?

I’m just so tired. So fed up of never knowing whether the next day will be a good one or a bad one. So scared of this year just being a repeat of the last, resulting in more wasted money and time. I want to retreat back into bed and pull the covers over my head — but I can’t, because I’ve got too much work to do.

5 thoughts on “Stomach Bugs And Unpredictability

  1. I think one of the hardest things about any form of chronic illness is that constant struggle between wanting to be fulfilled/achieve certain things, and just wanting to crawl into bed for huge swathes of time, it’s a cycle that requires so much energy not to just always do the latter and even more energy to sometimes manage to get a positive outlook on things.

    I’m sure you don’t need my advice, but I think one of the best things I do myself is to try to only think about things in small chunks/one little bit or day at a time, because if I become too preoccupied with the bigger picture of the huge wealth of deadlines/work/time pressure and the impact any future illness can have on that too I can become so overwhelmed that I can’t even start, and it just worsens the whole illness cycle.

    I’m sure you’ve got all that kind of advice going around your own head anyway though and sometimes I think it’s alright, important even, to just say ‘this is really bloody difficult and sometimes I don’t see how I’m going to manage’.

    1. Yeah, it’s a constant struggle between, “I can’t let this limit me!” and “I have more limitations than I want to acknowledge.” I do try and take things one day / hour at a time, but the problem is that deadlines tend to creep up on me as a result because I wasn’t focusing on them. Argh.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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