[UN]LIMITED

It’s Saturday night, I’ve paused the tv and the house is quiet. The dog is looking at me, watching my every move in case there is something in it for him. I go for my phone, which has been charging in the kitchen, and unplug it before scrolling down my list of recent calls until I find the contact I’m looking for. They never gave me any straight answer on how they’d get home, so I figure I should check just in case. The line rings and rings before going to voicemail — I hang up and try another number. If she isn’t picking up then he most likely will, he’s almost as addicted to the phone as I am. He picks up and immediately I can hear loud music, conversations and laughter, my chest stings a little and I slide to the floor where the dog is waiting for me to pat his head, I oblige.

I shout over the noise in the receiver, my voice is light, easy, and I ask if I’m picking them up at the bus stop later or if they’ve arranged for some other means of transport. There’s laughter in his voice when he replies, he’s having a good time, I can tell, and he tells me they haven’t thought about it, but they’ll call someone so I don’t have to worry or stay up to wait for them. I ask if they have a key, but he mishears me and tells me, yes, they are having a great time, they’re at a pub and my sister and cousin have come to join them as well. I tell him that it sounds like they’re having fun and again inquire about the key, he doesn’t hear me and I end up placing the phone in front of my face and shouting the question into it so he’ll hear. They have a key. I laugh and wish them a good night before we hang up.

As the conversation comes to an end, my smile slowly drops and I sit and look into the large floor to ceiling mirror that is on the wall outside the door, my own face stares back at me at a distance. It’s as blank as I feel. A seedling of envy has taken root inside of me and I wish I was there with them, but I’m not, because my body is in recovery mode — it can’t handle social scenes and physical activity. The silence is deafening and I refill my glass of water and go back to the tv, un-pause it and turn the volume up a few notches to make sure it drowns out the haunting silence.

They deserve this night off, to enjoy themselves in a different setting and to take a night off from the world, I simply wish I’d been there with them. The envy isn’t forged from a dark place that would’ve wanted them to stay behind, no, just a simple wish that I could’ve come after. But it is never simple and my world isn’t perfect and so I can’t join them even though I know they’d welcome me with open arms and joy and love if I did. I am just physically not able to go, again.

The tag on my Yogi tea tells me ‘you are unlimited’ and in a deep corner of my mind I know it to be true, but then and there all I feel is a plethora of limitations. Bullet points of all the things I can’t do and all the people I can’t see because it’ll leave me drained in a bed, trying to crawl back to some form of living state.

All I can think as the pictures on the screen flicker before my eyes is, ‘am I out of the woods yet? And if not now, when?‘ I know there’s no answer to it. I’ve been in this position before (and worse) and worked my way back out, so I know it’s not forever, but in the empty house with the tv turned up too loud, two sleeping animals at my side, I can’t help but wonder when I’ll be allowed to live like someone who isn’t sick all day every day, when I can stop anticipating the next hurdle because I know it’s going to come at some point, but I also know that thinking too much about it is not worth my time because it would steal away the precious moments I have in-between all the knockouts. I wonder if I have the fight it requires to see this through, but of course I know the answer before the thought is fully formed: I have the fight, because rolling over and existing like this forever is simply not an option.

My hands yearn for a keyboard and my manuscript, but my head can’t handle it as it requires too much concentration. My mind yearns for my favourite café, a coffee and a writing session, but none of these things are possible this week, maybe not next week either; and so I’m left with the house, the tv and the couch, boxed in by limitations as I watch my favourite episodes that I’ve seen before, but I can’t think of what else to watch as the unread books that are waiting for me in my room is not a luxury I can indulge in for the time being. The time will come again, it’s just not today, or tomorrow, but maybe soon.

Then it’s Sunday, again, and I only know it because my phone tells me. The world continues to move forward while I’m at a standstill, and all the uneventful days blur together and lose significance, they’re all the same and today won’t be much different either, but there’s always tomorrow.

– Martie xx

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Louder Than Words

There is something pleasant about that smell of caffeine in the morning, not just any kind, but your favourite brew. 7.30am, you’re awake and so is parts of the world around you, and you go into that one special place and order up a cup of your regular; they don’t even need me to say my order anymore, they just let me out of courtesy. I’ve been assured that they enjoy regulars, though, so I don’t have to find a new place to frequent, which is good. I find a certain calm in sitting at a table in the morning, watching the traffic move outside the window and seeing people walk in and out the door as they too make sure they get their chosen drink before rushing off. My bus is always thirty minutes earlier than my appointments and obligations, I don’t need to rush.

Today I had my very first day of work placement. It was August 2013 I had to go on a sick leave due to my health and I have not returned to the job scene since, before today. It feels good to finally be of use again, to do something worthwhile. This is a process to see if my health can handle working and so -for now- I work four hours at a time, three times per week, but it is enough for now. By the time noon rolled around today my head was pretty spent, but it was a pleasant surprise to notice that my muscles were still alive and well.

I still required a short nap afterwards, something my cat certainly didn’t mind. We ended up taking a thirty minute snooze together:

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It’s been a long time coming this new adventure of mine. 2014 was a year straight out of hell, but it was also the year where everything turned around. Something clicked inside my brain with my rehabilitation and I was able to start working forwards instead of just drowning in the now, slowly. I’ve gone from being unable to lift my own glasses or cutlery, being bed-bound, unable to walk without help because of collapsing muscles, to having a pretty functional life. I haven’t had a proper workout in about a week or so, but my muscles have still gotten some challenges as I went on a weekend trip to Stavanger to visit my friend; we walked a lot and went drinking and dancing. I don’t think words can convey how grateful I am to be able to thoroughly enjoy an evening like that without having to fear a week -or more- in bed, being able to meet new people without almost fainting from exhaustion – the situations themselves are much louder than any existing words I can string together. It was a weekend for the books: a lovely city filled with wonderful people, I can’t wait to go back.

First the trip and today work, and I’m still very much alive. It’s a wonderful sensation that made me skip and twirl along to my music with joy as I walked home from the bus stop, much to the surrounding people’s surprise. There is hope, and this is the proof. I’m not at the finish line, not even close, but I’m on the right course, and with the three P’s it’ll be possible.

Patience. Pacing. Positivity.

It’s a good thing to go by, at least for me.

Take care,

– Martie xx

Body Rehabilitation

Today I went on the second bike ride I’ve done in probably five years. I figured this is the best way to rebuild the muscles in my legs as they’re completely rotten. I am not exaggerating when I say that every time I pedal I can feel my kneecap slide back and forth, because there simply is not enough muscle to keep it in place. After complaining about pains in my knees a few months back I was told that I should start walking on days I could muster it, as my knees were dangerously low on muscle and it was no wonder that my kneecaps kept locking themselves in place, hah.

I basically live on top of a small mountain. Norway is all mountains, almost. The thing is, there is nowhere to go on a bike without having to embark on hills, in fact there is one right across the road from my house and there is no way around it as I basically live in the middle of a sleek hill as well. Therefore my cycling adventures usually last (usually, she says, after doing it twice in one week) around 20-30 minutes, but boy does it work. By the end my legs are burning because of what they’ve been subjected to. I can’t remember the last time I had such an intense burning sensation in my body and it wasn’t due to illness, so this is actually quite fun.

My body is rotten, there is no getting around that, but it’s getting better. These last two weeks I’ve gone on walks every single day, I’ve also mixed it up with some jogging and then I dug my bike out of the garage and fixed it up so that I could use it again and now I’m alternating with some cycling as well. I call this my body rehabilitation because I’m rebuilding so much of it.

It’s taking time, but my body is obviously getting a little stronger each day, but every progress is good progress, however small, and this is very exciting for me as I’m reclaiming my life. I’m not rid of this illness yet, I still don’t have an optimal functional level of energy so to speak, but it’s so much better than it used to be and so I have complete faith that I can kick this illness’ ass as long as I keep working hard, because it takes hard work and dedication to bounce back from anything that has knocked you down.

Right now I’m armed with a large mug of tea and a bowl of müsli with soy yoghurt as a snack, and I’m waiting for my episode to load up of ‘I Am Cait’, reality shows are my guilty pleasure.

I’ll leave you with something that Taylor Swift said when I was at her concert in Hyde Park in June: “You are not going nowhere just because you’re not where you want to be YET!” It’s important to remember that, I think, because some times the long road ahead can look pretty daunting, but you’ll get there eventually, just take the time that YOU need, not the amount of time other people think you need. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it, this much I’ve learned in the last few years of my life.

I’m off to feed my guilty pleasure! I hope you have an amazing day!

– Martie xx

Up and Onwards

It’s been a while. For someone who just recently started a blog I sure made it out to seem like I’d forgotten all about it. I haven’t, though, I promise. Life’s been a bit hectic and for a while I took a break from writing altogether, and here is why:

Without knowing I’d put so much mental pressure on myself to finish my novel, but not only that, I also had to make it great. After tinkering with it for months and trying to plow through a writer’s block that refused to budge, spending hours and hours in front of a laptop, only to later having to sleep a lot only to get back to the laptop again… I decided enough was enough. I decided to take a break from writing, I could read and stuff, but I wasn’t going to go back to any projects for the time being. And holy chocolate sprinkles on toast! It was like this pressure lifted from my shoulders, a pressure I’d personally put there, and my entire day-to-day quality changed as I wasn’t obsessing anymore. I’m still on a break from my projects, but not from blog post writing, and to be honest it feels incredibly nice. i will return to them at some point, but there is no hurry.

For the moment life is incredibly good and my main focus is working on my health as I’ve lost a lot of important muscle in the last two years of being housebound, and therefore I’ve begun to walk. For the last six days I’ve had one walk each day in the mornings and today I mixed it up with some jogging as well (my lungs felt like they were going to die, stamina is a foreign word these days), but it feels good to be able to do these things and I am confident that with the right pace and attitude things are going to improve. These last few weeks a quality of life has returned to me that I have been without for years, and it makes me so grateful! it also helps motivate me more than ever to reclaim my life and work through this illness.

This was just a quick update and hello as I’ve missed this blog very much. Next post will not be two months down the line, I promise.

Until next time,

– Martie xx

Chasing the Sun

“Personal achievements in life are down to the mind,

As, in the future you will find:

That achievers achieve because they believe they can.”

– 20, Marrick Taylor –

Those lines are an excerpt from one of my favourite poems. My mother put it on my birthday card for my 20th birthday and I’ve kept it close every since, and these particular lines stand out in my mind this evening.

There is a medal around my neck tonight as I sit here, tucked up in bed with music on my ear. It’s a participation medal, but a medal all the same. Tonight I participated in something called “The Women Wave” or “Jentebølgen” in Norwegian. It’s a race that is 5.5 kilometers long and goes around the center of town. It’s not a race focusing on victory, but participation. Women in all ages gather and walk, jog and/or run the route. Tonight there were about 6000 participants. My mother’s workplace had a few extra starting numbers and so earlier today I decided to join as I remember doing it as a child and absolutely loving it. Should things go south I could just stop and head back to my car, things turned out okay though.

The starting gun went off at 19.00 and I crossed the finish line at 19.51. ME! The girl with a chronic illness! The girl who only a year ago couldn’t lift her own glass of water because it had become too heavy! And today I participated in and completed a route of 5.5 kilometers in 51 minutes!

I began by jogging and slowed to a walk further into the route as the edges of my vision had gone black and the world had become a bit crooked. Accompanied by chest pains, a headache (a byproduct of the low pressure weather) and abdominal pains, walking seemed like the best decision at this point. I am not going to lie, I considered calling it quits, but my legs were still steady, no wobbling whatsoever, and so I took my time and walked, testing the waters. I finished at a jog and crossed the finish line with the biggest grin, and it honestly didn’t hurt that a rugby team was stationed at the finish line as well, cheering at the people coming in and demanding high fives as I ran through them. It felt pretty cool.

Hours later and I still don’t feel a crash coming on and I’m still riding a wave of happiness because of it.

I don’t think one should ever underestimate the effect the feeling of accomplishment can have on ones life. Ones mind. I think it’s important to make room for accomplishments, because when your own body is working against you and everything feels like it’s failing it’s important to have that beacon. It’s easy to become demotivated when all seems lost and so an important thing for me on this entire journey has been to allow myself to have some steps I can master. It used to be being able to shower and blow dry my hair, then it escalated to being able to handle a curling iron again, to change into something that could not double as pajamas, to apply some makeup to my face, meet a friend for coffee. Rarely all these things could be done on the same day, or during the same week, but they were little things that made me feel better when I was able to indulge in them.

The box of things I can do that make me feel better has gradually expanded as my recovery has progressed. I am far away from being a normal, functioning human, but this gives me hope. This is proof that things actually do get better, the journey is not easy, far from it, but not all is lost forever.

Allow yourself to succeed in certain areas of your life, however small the feat my seem to the outside world remember that it’s major for you! Allow yourself to be happy at the small accomplishments as well as the large ones. Remember that even the tiniest bit of progress is still progress. Never belittle it, instead you should embrace it, feel it, live it. Let it fill you up.

Allow yourself to be happy. I want that for you. Every you out there. If you are healthy or sick, on top of the world or struggling, lost or found. I want joy for you. Because you deserve it, never forget that. There is nothing more beautiful than when pure happiness shines through from within, in my opinion it’s the prettiest thing a human can wear.

The road to today has been long, painful and a lot of times it has been without much hope. That is just the truth. A year ago things were more than bleak and I didn’t have much faith that it would improve, but now I see that all the hard work has paid off and I am more than willing to put in all the work necessary to find my way back to perfect health. However long it may take.

There is a medal around my neck tonight and it means so much more than I could possibly explain. It represents everything I’ve had to crawl through, every battle faced (lost and won). It’s a beacon of hope that things are going the right way. It’s a token of everything that has happened and everything that lays ahead.

The best is yet to come.

With love,

– Martie xx

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Give Me My 20s Back

There are times when I am 100% accepting of my situation, times when I understand that I am ill and that my life isn’t what I’d deem ‘normal’ and that it’ll take active effort and hard work to get back to full health. Then there are days like today. Days when I am not bedridden, but not feeling great either. I am at a standstill between two target lines, able to do a few things, but at the same time I can’t do too much because that just sends me into a spiral of exhaustion.

Compared to twelve months ago though this would’ve been a good day, so I am very happy that there has been progress in my situation, even if I don’t always see it myself.

It’s just that… it’s days like today that I find myself wishing for a life without a chronic illness. I am 22 years old and instead of starting my life, having fun, being with friends and just living life, I am instead carefully portioning out energy so that I’ll make it through some days. Moderation is key, and I know that. But some times I wish I could just kick moderation in the butt and go all out.

See, I want to be able to study what I care about. I want to have to pull an all-nighter at the library, to struggle over an essay that is due soon. Of course I would complain about it if ever in the situation, but my point is that I want to have the opportunity. And it’ll come, just not now. Some times I get a little bit irked about having my life on pause at an age where I’d much rather want to be starting my life and learning, and today is one of those days. So much so that I am going on a walk later despite not feeling all that great, but I am not bedridden either and so the stubborn, passive aggressive person in me is doing it anyway. If it’s a good idea one won’t know until after. It’s toying with a dangerous line, but at the same time I need to do it in order not to go completely insane…

If I’m lucky it’ll be rejuvenating and not draining, so here’s to hoping!

– Martie xx

A Mini Write-a-thon

So far so good on the writing front! After weeks of digging myself into a rut I’ve finally managed to climb back out. This has now turned into a race: my mind against my body. You see, right now I am so pumped that to stop writing is actually a bit painful because my mind’s screaming “No! I am not done yet!” whilst my body is beginning to crash. I came home a few hours ago after having written 3000 words in the city, first part in ‘my’ coffee shop, then the second part whilst eating lunch at a restaurant and then the final bit at the library. I went home because I could feel myself beginning to crash, which is never pleasant.

I’ve had a mini-meal to help my energy levels a bit, and also an hour long nap. I’m still feeling a bit meh, which seems to be my constant state these days. I’m having a forced break with tea and some vitamins in the hopes that it’ll help me recharge so that I can write more later on! Right now I’m extremely happy with today’s writing achievements, but like I said: my mind’s not done yet so I have so much more I want to get down. Hopefully I’ll hit 5K before I go to bed, you never know…

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You never know just how dirty the screen of your laptop is until you take it outside into the sunshine… my apologies.

– Martie xx