slipping (and remembering Scotland)

That last post was rather shallow if I do admit it.

But that’s how it is, isn’t it? When we soak up some sunshine, feel rather better, and some things are going well, getting done, we can be shallow. At least, I can be. I let things slip. Then I start slipping.

Should’ve expected I’d slip by today. Nervous system is tired out. (Shoe shopping for/with my kids and a friend over with her 4 kids went well, but pushed my system really hard). I could feel the spinning in my brain, the angst in my nerve fibers, and eventually the twitches in my whole body telling me I should’ve slowed down sooner. I let things slip, and Lyme slipped back. This is not a scary episode or anything. More like a tender reality check: believe it or not, self, you are not invincible. Oh, yeah.

So, now that I can’t sleep tonight because my nervous system is overstimulated, I think on the concept of slipping..sliding…falling. I think of my friends who have had actual falls in the last few months, whose recoveries are much harder than what I deal with, their pain frightening, their loved ones overwhelmed with the tasks of pain management along with life, job, finance and meal management. Of friends facing upcoming surgery to avoid the need for blood transfusion. Of friends with chronic conditions causing far more suffering than mine causes me. Of friends whose lives are so much more demanding and whose struggles more complicated than mine. Slippery slopes to keep climbing against.

I think on perhaps my favorite story that is actually my own of a time I slipped, fell. And I owe the story to my dad (Happy Birthday!) who sent my brother and me off to hike along Hadrian’s Wall, surrendering that dream for himself, allowing us to carry it out for him while he cared for mom who turned out to be too sick at the time to do the hike (though she gets a load of kudos for trying!). He made sure we had basic supplies. His hand-drawn map of the route. The military compass he’d bought for me at the auction he conducted as a fundraiser for my basketball team years before. The promise that he’d be at the trail outlet the next day to meet us and feed us a hot meal. I had the recipe of excitement, thrill, a dash of dread, certainty of some hours of drudgery, some disbelief and knowledge that some misery and some humor would be added to taste. It mixed together and simmered during the hike. Summer in southern Scotland. = wet. Several hours into the laughable situation my brother was ahead of me a ways. We’d realized the proportions on the hand drawn map of Dad’s weren’t quite accurate, so we’d have to keep a good pace to make it to the end by the agreed upon time. Foggy views of sheep on soggy grass with scattered ancient rocks. And some boggish areas. A rather long uphill mud puddle took me longer to get through than my brother. I stepped. I fell. Waist deep. In mud. After a moment of shock and silence I cried out to my brother, who it took a bit to turn and look. And come running back as I was slurping my way to hold on, climb out, leaning forward to try to save as much of my pack as possible from getting soaked. He helped me get a solid grip, and we dragged me forward…looking down to see a sheep’s bones, and matted wool in the mud, now dripping down the front of my body, clinging to the velcro on my cargo-pant pockets and my jacket. Something else had slipped here. And never made it out. The adventure felt incredibly real from that moment on. More miserable, and somehow more wonderful (knowing it’d be over in a day), for having gone through it. Dad was there when we finally got to the end of the trail, after a long night in a (at least dry) hut, and the following wee hours of putting one wet boot in front of the other. He hosed us off before allowing us in for the warm meal. And I got to tell this story for the first time, to the one man who would truly wish he’d been there with me, maybe in my place, and revel in it. I do love that memory. (Thank you, Dad, for all it cost you.)

Slipping is something we often would like to forget. Pretend it never happened. Like a cat, act like we always land on our feet. The truth is, mud happens. Recovery ain’t pretty. Getting up again is a lot of work, and probably takes help from someone we have to call out to. And the next steps are shaky. Then the next are sort of in shock. And our boots are wet, so each step is uncomfortable now, and heavier, and harder. And we’re less certain. And dirtier. But, come on, can’t we laugh at ourselves a bit too? Maybe not until later (after we shiver through getting hosed off so we can get cleaned and warmed up). When we’re proud of getting out. Of the adventure. When we see the story and get to tell it, no longer quite so within it. When it’s a memory.

Aye, an adventure. That’s what I’m on. Having Lyme is a little like having the hand-drawn map, with the trail in the fog. I was making good strides, and I slipped a little. I’m glad to remember mud. It has depth that I appreciate at least as much as the rays of sunshine. I pray everyone has the chance to experience both, and can make their own comparisons.


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