Still here

My last post, admittedy, was four months ago. There’s a reason for that, but since I haven’t been talking about it much in public, let me catch up here, so that we can then move onto more interesting subjects.

January 2009: I began a term as the interim librarian at the same school I’ve been at as an assistant. They hired me formally (after the full and sometimes nervewracking search process) in April.

Summer 2009: I was in and out of work a lot, even though I’m supposed to be mostly off between mid-June and mid-August. The rest of the time, I was helping a dear friend who was having hip replacmeent surgery to repair damage from an injury 43 years earlier. (She’s got some other medical issues, including hearing loss, that made us want to have someone with her all the time, while she was in hospital or the rehab center.) Good thing to do, but tiring.

And over the summer, the dear friend who co-founded Phoenix Song with me decided she needed to be going in other directions. Which I understand, and I want her to be happy – but I still miss that particular interaction, even though we continue to be friends.

This fall: I start work for the school year by moving (with the help of my excellent minion and a wonderful student) every single book, video, and DVD in the library – about 14,000 items – at least twice. (We moved *every* shelf location as part of rearranging various things and had to move many things to a holding location first.)

I do my best to settle into making the library space as much mine as I can, to develop my own style of being a librarian and building relationships with individual students better, and so on and so forth. And, of course, all the things you do when you’re an education professional and it’s the beginning of the new year – new students, a few new staff, new directions in curriculum.

And things start to go slowly downhill.

At first I thought I was just tired. You know, the way you are when you’ve been working 50 and 60 hour weeks consistently, and you know you’re doing a lot of new things. The way you are when you’re an introvert working in an extroverted role (and for more challenge, with a very extroverted division director/boss).The way you are when you’re doing some things you’re very comfortable with – but some that are very new or really not using your best innate skills.

And then I got H1N1 in early November. And so then I thought it was recovery from that.

But then it got to be Thanksgiving, and I felt just as lousy at the end of a 5 day break as I did at the beginning – despite doing nothing much other than sleep with a brief outing to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. And I was really starting to lose my ability to think straight.

I went into work that Monday, said “There’s something really wrong” and began a round of doctor visits and other excitement. I spent the better part of two months only barely function at the most basic level. There were a couple of weeks where my focus was so poor that even reading light fiction wasn’t working (and this is me, who normally reads 25 books or so most months, not including online reading.)

And around it all, absolutely overwhelming exhaustion. Not the comfortably tired after a long day, or even the achy tired after moving or spending all day on your feet. I’ve done those. This was the kind of exhaustion that made every movement five times more effort than usual, and made even the simple normal stuff – making dinner, having a bath – take forever, and leave me unable to do anything else.

And even the things I’ve always taken for granted got hard. I’m the one of my friends who usually drives to see everyone – and light intolerance when driving at night (plus the exhaustion) made that impossible. Even simple decision making – which thing do I do first, what do I need to do to make this thing happen – got impossible.

All of it very strongly shook my  sense of self, my sense of connection to the world around me, and my sense of priorities and what mattered.

Fortunately, it’s getting better:

In late January, I saw an endocrinologist, and got a diagnosis of a significant Vitamin D deficiency and possibly hypothyroid issues. (My tests on the latter are borderline, but he was willing to try treating it given the full list of symptoms, which I’m not boring you with here.)

A month later, and I can work a full day and not be totally wiped out at the end of it. Detailed tracking shows that the focus is getting better, as are other symptoms. I’m finally starting to get my brain back, and becoming able to write again. Very nice.

It’s still not perfect. I’m not sure how much more I’m going to get back yet, and that means there’s a lot of free-floating trying to figure out how to cope going on in the back of my head. I’m committed to the coven work (and to my very tolerant student who’s put up with my inability to plan much in advance for a couple of months), but I want to build a sustainable life that includes work I love (and that pays the bills – both important), ritual and religious time, time with friends – and time and energy for projects at home.

I’ll talk more about all of this in the coming weeks, I’m sure. But I wanted to at least get the explanation out here first, so I can get onto the more interesting bits sooner than later.

We talk about how priestesses and priests in our traditions are human – but there’s not enough talk, yet, I think, about how to manage chronic medical issues in a way that’s sustainable and caring. And that’s something I definitely want to talk about – balancing my expectations of myself, my interaction in the broader community, and how to juggle ritual tasks when there’s no one else trained in the tradition to lean on directly in ritual, for example. I think there are solutions and options, and I’m sure there are more I haven’t thought of yet, too.

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