I said a while back on this blog that I would no longer conceal the effects of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) on my life. So, in the interest of full disclosure…
It was going to be a terrific Labor Day weekend. The annual Art on the Green festival in Pawlet was going to include a silent auction to benefit local victims of Irene. Just as important, the event would be the first chance after the disaster for the community to come together to commiserate, offer help, rejoice in its togetherness, maybe even share a few laughs.
I was looking forward to going around the tents and tables and stalls of my artist friends, seeing their latest work, and exchanging views on the glories and tribulations of the artistic life. After that, if my energy held up, I wanted to drive to the Garlic Festival in Bennington, something that for one reason or another I\’ve never yet managed to do. I was curious as to what a festival in honor of that divine bulb would be like, and I hoped to come home with an impressive bunch of locally-grown garlic braids.
The next morning we were going to drive to Maine to spend a couple of days with our beloved descendants and celebrate an important birthday. I\’d made reservations for the dogs at their usual B&B. I\’d arranged for the chicken-sitter to take care of the hens. I could practically hear the sound of the surf and feel the salt spray on my skin.
Before heading for Art on the Green, however, I decided to make a pot of sauce from the tomatoes I\’d picked earlier. And it was while I was browning the onions that my own Irene struck, a CFS attack harsher than any I\’ve experienced in a long time.
I crawled upstairs and lay down. I wanted to call my husband, who was not home, but the phone number I needed was downstairs, and I couldn\’t face the effort of going down and back up again. My mind slows down to almost zero at such times, but I did remember that I should mix up and drink the electrolyte mixture that has been helpful in the past. But that too was in the kitchen, downstairs.
I lay inert and scared, and finally went into a sleepy torpor until my husband arrived. But there was little he could do besides call the descendants, the dog boarder, the chicken sitter and cancel, cancel, cancel. That night, unable to even change into pajamas, I slept in the dress I\’d worn all day.
Today I\’m still horizontal, though a bit improved–I\’m writing after all, aren\’t I? I have some hopes that I\’ll be able to walk around some tomorrow, and even more hopes that the day after we might actually get to Maine. But I can\’t count on anything.
That\’s the thing with my personal Irene. She comes with little warning, stays as long as she likes, departs. Then as soon as I get a little confident, wham! She\’s back. She silts up my life, washes away my plans and goals, weakens the foundations of my being.
Over the last twenty-four hours, I have thought a great deal about the people around me who are struggling with the aftermath of the other Irene. In my horizontal state, I have felt a new kinship with them, and by extension, with all those who are suffering right now–which, if you think about it, pretty much includes all humanity. In one way or another, we all have our own personal Irene, to deal with as best we can. It helps, in my horizontal state, to periodically recite that old mantra, \”may all beings be at ease….\”