Have you ever played Boggle; the word game in which you create as many words as you can as your race against the flowing sand of the hour glass?
You pick up your pencil, and place that clean, empty page before you, all the while steadying your nerves for the race against time that is about to ensue.
Someone turns the hour glass over, and with a deliberate, measured pace, you start creating as many words as possible. You try to ignore that little glass sitting in the middle of the table but after 10 seconds or so, you find yourself sneaking a peek at the sand, wondering how much sand is left.
Suddenly, you feel your heart speeding up, the adrenaline is kicking in, and you innately know: the sand is almost gone. You work feverishly to come up with as many words as you can before the sand has completely emptied into the bottom half of the hour glass. And then before you realize it, the top of the hour glass is empty and your time is up.
Sometimes you put your pencil down in triumph! After all, you have just come up with 43 words! Who has ever accomplished such a feat, you proudly think to yourself.
Other times, you lay your pencil down in frustration knowing that you just didn’t have enough time to come up with more words. Or perhaps, it is the realization that the letters on the cubes were mostly constants and very few vowels, so the impossibility of the task is now staring you in the face.
There are only two outcomes in this game. You either beat the sand … or the sand beats you.
Having suddenly found my normal energy levels of 50-80% plunge to the 20-40% bracket; I suddenly realized that my life has once again become the hour glass paradox. You see, I’m always racing against the hour glass, trying to beat the sand instead of the sand beating me.
In reality, living with ME/CFS is always an hour glass paradox. The only difference is that the less energy my body produces, the more difficult the letters I find before me, thus, the more challenging the proposition of creating new words becomes.
It’s not that the hour glass paradox doesn’t exist when my body suddenly finds a way to create more energy. It’s just that it is not as noticeable because I am given a lot more vowels in which to create more words.
I have played Boggle so often, that I can visually recall the little hour glass in my mind’s eye. I can see the constant, measured flow of the sand as it saunters from the upper chamber of the glass to the bottom.
As I was making Curry Chicken and Rice for my big dish this week, that hour glass crept back into my mind’s eye. It sat there, taunting me that I was on borrowed time.
I was able to get the pan heated, the chicken in and the sautéing started when I peaked at the sand and realized it was almost gone. I could actually feel the energy sand in my body flowing from my head to my chest, through my arms, down through my legs. It was as if my body had morphed as one with the hour glass, and as the sand was lessening moment by moment, so was my energy reserve. And then it was gone.
I turned the heat way down and headed back to bed, where I stayed until my energy refilled the upper chamber of the hour glass.
I returned to the kitchen and added the rice, curry, cream and spices, mixing it all together. Then the hour glass returned. The energy sand flowed. This time the adrenaline kicked in and my body innately understood that I was trying to beat the sand. And then it was gone.
I again returned to bed, waiting the refilling of the upper chamber. It took a little longer this time.
After some time, I went back to the kitchen, got myself a bowl of the chicken curry, stored the rest of it in the fridge and sat on my bed to eat. When I was done, I cleaned up the mess and loaded the dishwasher, always cognizant of sand that was flowing, faster it now seemed.
There was a sense that this time the emptying of the upper chamber would be a final one for the day. I was again racing against the sand, desperately trying to finish this one thing before the sand disappeared… and beat me.
I closed the dishwasher door, grabbed my tea and headed to bed. As I sat the cup down on my make-shift cardboard night-stand, I simultaneously felt and sensed it. The sand was gone.