#34: Onwards, Upwards, Outwards
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2018 issue.
Tired. So tired. Mind aching, body burning, even my fingers feeling like they’re competing in an Olympic endurance event. I can hardly move, my brain is in a fog and even drinking a cup of tea takes more energy than I have.
The chronic fatigue is playing up today and I’ve come home from work early. Thankfully, due to a reduced working week, I don’t have to move tomorrow. I’m planning on doing just that. Work has been a busy few weeks, I’ve had more than my usual social activities in the evening or at weekends, so perhaps it’s unsurprising. On top of that, I have the low level but ever present anxiety about my every other month running of The Traveller Adventure or my roughly every other week lunch time Traveller games with colleagues. (That I’m finding this limited refereeing difficult is a clear sign of how much I’m struggling at present.)
I’m not far off how bad I felt on the Sunday morning of last year’s TravCon which is a bit disturbing as it’s only two weeks now to this year’s convention so I’m worried about starting at a low level. But after six years of running a minimum of two games each weekend, I’m taking a seventh year sabbatical and haven’t offered to fill a slot. (I’ll probably take some characters and a bit of plot. If the organizer gets desperate to fill slots as he did last year thanks to referee sickness, I could offer to see how ‘off the cuff’ I can really manage.)
I’m still thankful however, as I know others with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) have it much worse and are bedridden and can barely move. The film Unrest, recently released, captures one such sufferer and her experiences.
I know that remission or healing can come and I remain optimistically hopeful that that might yet be in my future, but after nine years or more have to accept that I need to deal with where I am. Unsurprisingly, it impacts my family (of course) although even those close to me find it difficult to “understand”, particularly if I’m in less debile phase. Many find it hard to understand that even sitting talking with people can be exhausting.
This could be a down phase, it could mark further decline, it’s difficult to tell. If the latter it may mean difficult decisions. Reducing my working week further (which of course impacts on pay and pension); limiting my social life even further—although it’s pretty much already down to just church and a bimonthly book group; or perhaps even reducing my involvement in Traveller—no longer running games would be an obvious step or maybe reducing the writing I do. The latter has been a valuable ‘escape’ into other, pain-free worlds; something I can do in my own time at my own speed and without having to talk to anyone.
But it’s not come to that yet. So, per ardua ad astra.