I know I haven't been writing here much lately. I actually haven't been writing much of anything - my CFS blog, my book blogs, certainly nothing that might actually earn me some money.
I have been struggling lately, both physically and emotionally, and feeling completely overwhelmed. In addition to the usual stuff (virally-triggered winter crashes, Jamie's condition), the past few weeks have brought additional stresses. Craig, who is rarely sick, spent almost two weeks home from school, though he went back today and is now feeling like his old self again. The stress level has risen considerably, thanks to ongoing battles with Jamie's high school over providing him with the support he needs. As sick as he's been, the standard accommodations that have helped him through the past 5 years just aren't enough this year. We are still trying to resolve those problems, so I'll provide some details later - hopefully, details that can help other families.
So, by last week, I felt like I had reached my limit, like I was just going to explode if I didn't somehow get some down time by myself. I called some good friends (who also have a son with CFS) and asked if I could use their rental beach condo (obviously it's the off season!) for a brief respite. They are so wonderful (and of course, totally understood how I was feeling), they actually brought the key to me that night. The next morning, with both of my kids still lying in the family room and the TV and video games still blaring, I just packed up and took off (lest you think I am a bad mother, my "kids" are teens). I'm not usually so spontaneous (I'm a planner and list-maker!), but my husband supported me and I desperately needed to get away.
Oddly, it took me a while to actually relax. I enjoyed the 90-minute drive, listening to an audio book and trying my best to leave my problems behind. When I arrived, I walked around the empty condo, wondering what to do with myself. I chose my bed, fiddled with the TV a bit, unpacked my meager provisions, and texted compulsively with everyone back home. I had some lunch (left-overs I brought with me) and gratefully crawled under a fluffy comforter for my nap.
That did the trick, and I finally began to relax. I read my book, and watched hours and hours of The Pillars of the Earth miniseries which I'd picked up at the library on my way out of town. I went out and sought yummy take-out for dinner, spent less than 2 minutes doing dishes (wash 1 plate, wash 1 fork), and spent lots of time lying on the couch. I attempted a short walk on the beach the next morning (the wind was monsoon-like!) and stayed at the condo until after my nap, then drove back home listening to my audio book.
Of course, everything was still waiting for me when I got home: a messy house, sick kids (though one was temporarily feeling better), and nonstop, overflowing to-do lists. But I felt better, calmer, well rested, and more able to cope. I think I was in such bad shape last week that I may have even scared my wonderful husband a bit; he knew Friday morning he was going to need to go to Urgent Care for a bad infection, but he didn't tell me about it until I called that night from the beach! I'm lucky to have such a supportive family.
So, my little 24-hour getaway wasn't much, but it definitely helped. It was fabulous - and strange - to have no one to take care of but myself. I know I need to do a better job on a daily basis of taking care of myself, but it's hard to do in the midst of so much stress and constant urgencies. Here I am again, another week that's being spent frantically trying to make calls and e-mails to get my son the support he needs at school, managing one or more sick kids at home every day, and trying to still take care of my family. But perhaps I am slowly learning this lesson; I spent a half hour out on the deck, in the (cold) sunshine, reading my book this afternoon. Every little bit helps, right?
How do you make sure to take care of yourself in the midst of chaos? I'm open to suggestions!