March 28, 2017

Livin' large in a small body

As I near my 60th birthday, I have to admit, I've always been the tiniest bit chicken about things. Travelling, sleeping alone in the dark, being made fun of.

Not that I don't have reasons for all that - I blame the Catholics for my fear of the dark, my small town life for the travelling thing, and being made fun of for being made fun of. At 5' tall on a big hair day, I've been up for my fair amount of abuse. Add smart and nerdy and dressed in what one of my high school friends gently referred to "slightly out of style" clothing, I stood out.

A long haired dark horse standing in snow covered grass with mountains in the backgroundHeck, I've got a scar from playing my clarinet in band. Who gets that?

Anyway, through the mystical bath of being abandoned in my marriage, being moved all over the world, sleeping alone a lot, I've gotten braver. I think. I've lived alone for most of 8 years now, and it's okay. I've moved away from family, and it's okay. I've run for office, and that's okay, too.

In all of these things, I "whistle a happy tune"... and I throw myself in. Pretending not to be afraid does seem to get me past most things.

The MS thing has thrown a bit of a wrench into my plans. See, I can pretend to be brave, only to have my body crap out on me at the moment when I most need it. It is frustrating. I am still at the point of refusing to allow it to be in charge, but I am finding it makes sense to take it into consideration.

So living large is developing smaller parameters. I fall asleep easily, so long solo drives (which I loved) are out. Long solo walks likewise. Legs simply aren't reliable, though I push them as hard as I can. Hanging out late at night in noisy places knocks me out for days. Noise itself is enough to overwhelm my senses. I can't have massages because it overwhelms my body. Too much sensation at once.

But no, I protest! I can't be done yet!!

Image result for iceland

So next week I'm off to ICELAND for the Iceland Writers Retreat that sounds like a pile of two transatlantic flights wrapped around a filling of all sorts of activities, cerebral and physical. I'll even have to be social, attempt to be witty, intelligent, knowledgeable and yet receptive to learning. The whole thing seems like a huge challenge for cognitively-impaired old me. What if I get lost? It's not a completely inappropriate fear - I get lost all the time.

Last week I had a huge anxiety attack about doing this all on my own, but I've met online a bunch of fellow Canadians going to the same event on the same plane so I feel supported a bit. I'm just hoping against hope that my body works with me. I'm telling it, "one more time into the breach, my friend..."

My son says I keep using my MS as an excuse for taking exotic trips. It's true. MS makes me feel like I'm on a merry-go-round, not knowing where I will end up. I may have a long ride, or I may stop on the next round. No one can tell me.

Despite my fear and pending bankruptcy (kidding), I'm off for this trip, hoping I can grab a few of the golden rings as I do. Northern Lights? Icelandic horses? Volcanoes? The most literate society in Europe? Icelanders, such interesting people, living in the middle of the harsh northern ocean. To say nothing of all of the authors I'll meet. Wow.

Meanwhile, my body mutters. It mumbles. It takes a moment now and again to remind me that all is not as it should be.

Ah well, whistle a happy tune, and off I go!