So it came, eventually.
Despite my best efforts, inch by inch a creeping fatigue had worked its way in, eating away at the initial enthusiasm and jaunty daily 15km walks amongst the miasmic greens and melodious birdsong of Hagley Park and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Draining sinking feelings. Bones ached, muscles cramped and a disturbingly asthmatic wheeze developed at the bottom of my breath slowly but surely sapping energy and joy from the day. Lately even my teeth ached so much I wanted to tear them out of my head.
Keep walking, eat better, eat less, sleep more and “Just push through it” I thought, but the mantra went from “keep moving” to “meh” in a matter of a few short weeks. Trying to cover it with red wine and routine didn’t work (all that did was disrupt my sleep even more), eating healthy didn’t work, seeing every movie in the cinemas didn’t work, vitamin supplements didn’t work nor did compulsive endorphine-seeking shopping for things I don’t really need (burning money is easy in expensive AF New Zealand). Even WORK didn’t work.
The initial buzz of work – a short 3 day contract and a subsequent 4 day long weekend (a long term DREAM achieved just quietly) – faded quickly after two weeks in, and Friday last week I eventually bottomed out. Flatlined. Got home from work and just lay on the lounge all that night, and all the next day. And the next. Barely went outside, just flopped on the floor and watched TV with a disconnected indifference to everything. A leaden heaviness pulled at me even as physically whatever insidious microorganism had afflicted me spread and seemingly devastated my spirit. Even smiling was hard and I quickly came to appreciate what the term ‘joylessness’ really meant. Emotionally I was dead and nothing I did helped.
Was I sick? Covid? Flu? Hayfever maybe (it IS Spring here). Funny but I didn’t FEEL sick, at least any sickness that I’d known before and could write this strange lethargy off to. Energy levels dropped to zero and it became an effort just to exist. I just couldn’t be bothered and the heaviness grew. Wtf? But I’m not sick! Nothing that matched the covid symptoms of concern in any case. Maybe it was stress? Maybe essentially moving to a new country and (lets face it) an unfamiliar city) after being isolated for so long had caught up with me after all. The restless nights and weird-arse dreams could probably be blamed on that. All my life decisions of the past, good and bad, were paraded past The 4am wake ups for no discernible reason could be that I guess. Or the neighbours fighting. Or the daily earthquakes here were shaking me awake at some subconscious level (at least one small one a day here apparently). Dunno.
Forcing myself off the lounge after two days, fighting that constant awful feeling of “too much sleep” that you get when you’ve overslept or napped too long – that interrupted sleep cycle really messing with your head – a long walk yesterday seemed to help. A lazy 17kms looping through the city and out to Riccarton Mall, pale Antarctica skin lightly fried by the sunshine but pressing on nonetheless. After the 3 hours constitutional and despite the weird aches and complaining muscles I felt ok and some of the cobwebs cleared. Waking early this morning again, with aching teeth and no idea what time it was, I spent a long hour staring that the ceiling trying to figure out what was wrong. All the same questions and endlessly reviewed decisions looping thought my mind over and over again. Then I blinked and it was daylight.
Birds were singing loudly outside my window and the morning sun was streaming in for a change. A thin sliver of blue sky teased the day to come. Hmmm… interesting. Wait. Was this positivity? I explored.
Oddly, the aching teeth were gone this morning, as were the dry mouth and dull aching pains from the past few weeks. I took a tentative and ultimately wheeze-free breath, expecting the death rattle of the past few days but got nothing but sweet spring air.
Maybe whatever this was had run its course finally?
Perhaps my battered immune system has finally caught up, at least for a little while, after the covid vaccine, Spring pollen counts and the unpleasant reentry into the world of people.
Anyway…time to throw myself out again into this ocean of humanity. Deeply ingrained habits have me firmly impaled like bait on the hook of some fisherman casting his line out over and over again, my primary addiction seemingly impervious to the fragility of the human body and vagaries of the spirit.
It’s coffee time.
*postscript : as of yesterday there’s fkn Omicron covid variant doing the rounds apparently – primary symptom appears to include extreme fatigue . Great.