Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How frail a creature is man (and Niki)

Note the date and time, people; this is the post where i admit that i was wrong.
 Perhaps you've met me : i work hard and i play hard,
i believe in serving everyone else before yourself,
i give 100% to any project i am a part of,
i know it is better to do it right than do it twice,
i do not believe there is such a thing as "good enough"
and i am often credited with the cringe-inducing quote, "Sleep is for the weak."
[side note : though i did say that in my youth i have since revised my position to believe that various people need a different amount of sleep and that it isn't necessarily a sign of weakness. I do still feel sorry for people who have to sleep a lot though, cause they have less time to enjoy life]
Since i was a teenager people have warned me about pushing myself too hard, about having super-high expectations, about neglecting myself and about burning myself out.
I scoffed.
I laughed.
When i was younger i even sneered a bit.
My body has always had an amazing recuperative ability that i knew would carry me through.
Here is the moment many of you have been waiting for : I was wrong and you were right.
If you are so inclined, feel free to use the comments section to say I Told You So.
After testing and consultation with the awesome Dr. Cool the diagnosis is physical exhaustion.
Isn't that the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard?
Who the heck gets exhausted?
What am i doing, climbing a damn mountain?
I thought exhaustion was Hollywood short-hand for going to rehab.
My thyroid has righted itself, but now i am anemic and have low blood pressure (not on-the-verge-of-death-low, but when you have been perfectly consistent at 115/75 forever and now you are 100/65 it raises some questions).
The doctor says it is reasonable for me to get only 5 hours of sleep a night OR it is reasonable for me to work 6 days a week OR it is reasonable to do both for a short period of time, but you all know that the Nikiverse is not a Land of Or; it is a Land of And.
Apparently if you start measuring short sleep periods with long work periods together in YEARS instead of WEEKS it is a problem. Actually the real problem isn't lack of sleep so much as lack of sleep couped with lack of rest and relaxation; there is no time to re-charge.
Dr Cool likened it to running myself so hard that i had to use my reserves to maintain function and though my reserves might be deeper than other people's i am now metabolically bankrupt.
So you were all right; it took about 25 years, but i have finally run myself into the ground.
{Dr Cool says Even a high performance machine can overheat.}
She doesn't think that i have caused irrevocable damage to myself, but i do need to reset my body. In her words, I don't have to slow done or do less in my life, I have to change what I am doing to strike a better balance.
Here is the basic crtl-alt-delete plan for Niki:
- i have to take as much time off from work as my schedule will allow
- i have to commit to 5 hours in bed a night, except for special occasions
- i have to take iron supplements
- i have given notice at the antique store; i loved working there but not being committed to Sundays means that I can have 2 days off a week (or at least every other week once summer programming gets under way)
- though i am still going to the gym I am giving up my personal trainer (if i don't have the second job i can't afford her; this one was a serious sticking point for me, but since she is moving to another gym any way it'll be okay)
- i have to recommit to yoga as it really did de-stress me (not to mention it is a New Year's resolution)
- i can't go back to the Red Cross until the doctor gives me her okay
{Dr Cool says How about you donate those platelets to yourself for a while? Have i mentioned how much i love my doctor? }
- i am supposed to focus on paying attention to when my body tells me it is tired (let's face it - if this had happened to me 10 years ago, okay, 5 years ago, okay maybe only 3 years ago, i would have just increased my caffeine intake and pushed through)
In three months we will do more blood work and have a follow-up meeting to see how i am doing.
I am hopeful that it won't take that long to see a difference.
I intend on committing whole-heartedly to this plan even though it won't always be easy.
The only real issues for me now are 1. getting over my own disgust of feeling like a weak-a** loser who has failed at the most basic human function of self-preservation, and 2. figuring out what i am going to do on Sunday - anyone wanna go skydiving?


Rea said...

I'm thinking jumping out of a perfectly good plane is not quite what Dr. Cool had in mind for RELAXing....hmmmm? And I told you so from me!

Melanie said...

Your doctor sounds great. I'm glad you're taking her advice!

Anonymous said...

Well, I never gave you advice in the past, so I couldn't even contemplate an ITYS. Good luck, and come see us sometime for a relaxing visit down here in the southern part of heaven.


Rachel said...

I had thought your symptoms sounded much like physical exhaustion, but even I thought, "No way. This is Niki!" I too was wrong, so no "I told you so." here. I think you should spend Sunday reading or leisurely window shopping.

Francie the "wise" said...

I am glad to see that you have taken the sudden and abrupt realization that you are human just like the rest of us with characteristic Niki-humor. Speaking as a person who needs more sleep than most people (stupid hypoglycemic, low-blood pressured body), sleep is not so bad. Maybe you could consider keeping a dream journal and practicing lucid dreaming -- since I know you a) hate to think of any time as wasted, b) have lovely sparkle-pony technicolor dreams and c) appreciate the stunning depths of your own subconscious. I also recommend both hatha yoga (esp. bikram) and acupuncture, taken either together or separately.

And Dr. Cool clearly lives up to her name.

Ron said...

Hell must have frozen over... I was wondering why there was a "freeze" on the economy...