>Happy New Year! It occurred to me today, as I drove around Saint Paul (and the Twin Cities) like a mad man, that I should spend some time reflecting on this past year. It is breathtaking to realize that one year ago I could feel hope slipping away yet again. In fact, as I entered January of 2008, I was sure that the stimulant I was on was not strong enough. Then, when I tried amphetamine for the first time, I was convinced the wheels had completely come off of the wagon. My hands began “sweating,” and I found myself in a complete spiral. Somehow, I held things together, but I also missed my most school in January and February. The dyshidrotic eczema was driving me nuts, and I seriously thought that I might need to quit teaching. I also remained completely exhausted.
Even when I got my hands under control, I had a swollen testicle again and felt horribly run down. Still, the worst was yet to come. As February ended and March began, I found myself at a low water mark. I hated going to work and knew that my classes were toxic to me. I had started on my amphetamine, but my knees were in extreme pain. My weight was barely hovering at 150 pounds. And, with the start of the third trimester, I found myself completely lost. My schedule and pattern at school had changed and it took me three weeks to get my bearings. All of it had me beside myself. Then, we went to D.C. for the Fools Fest, and the worm turned.
Initially, I was convinced it was the end of the world. I could barely walk up the hill to the fields. I didn’t even go to the fields on the second day. It was wonderful to see my friends from college, but I was depressed beyond belief. It looked like narcolepsy, or my body, or something was going to take ultimate from me too. Yet, as I returned from D.C., I seemed to have a little more hope. Perhaps it was seeing our friends, or maybe it was my deepest self getting fed up, or perhaps it was the arrival of spring, but I came home with a small fire in my belly.
The first piece of good news was that my knees were okay. I needed physical therapy, but I had been convinced something was torn. Then, I found Facebook and started this blog. Suddenly, I was discussing my narcolepsy and connecting with others. At school, I finally recognized how toxic my course load was and owned it. I came to terms that I would be unhappy for the rest of the year, and that made things lighter. I also turned my focus to the new course that promised to be much better for the 2008-2009 school year (and it has been). Finally, I began, for the first time in my life, to accept that I am a finite person. I can’t be all things to all people. I must be content to do what my body allows.
As the school year ended, I finally got to a MOONS meeting. I signed up for the Narcolepsy Network. I got excited that MITY was approaching. At the same time, I had to confront again and again my tendency to overestimate how much strength I had. Ultimate remained frustrating, and I never did find a way to get back in shape. Eventually, I had to step away from ultimate. I still don’t know if I will be able to play competitively again, but am much more at peace with that. I also had many dark days when I turned all of my ire inward. But in processing those moments, I found more and more ways to forgive myself.
These last few months have been incredible. While there is still so much that I must learn about myself, about narcolepsy, about how to find peace, I know that I am on the right path. The most important lesson I have learned in the past year is that I can’t control a vast majority of my world, but I can control my reaction to the world around me. I need to roll with the realities of my life. I need to breathe. I need to take each day, one moment at a time. Hopefully, as good as the end of 2008 has been, it is only the beginning. The more content I am, the more I am able to embrace the world.