Monday, July 23, 2012

My Working Vacation

[Okay.  The title may be stretching obscurity even for me.  I am not doing a good job at documenting specifics of my changes lately.  There have been too many, with little time in between, giving no time to sit and write.  I expect this to continue for some time.  If I can, I shall make short notes I can decipher later, but that has always been difficult.  When concepts are difficult to articulate in the first place, making a short notation and expecting to be able to remember enough specifics at a later time is nearly impossible.  I could probably do better if I ceased any and all moments of personal entertainment (TV or Internet), but that would probably drive even more insane than I already am.  I so need a vacation from myself.]

Four days in San Diego, the beach, the parks, more parks (the daughter is 5, after all), the hotel pool and spa, and of course, shopping.  A vacation away from the hell of the Valley.

Well, it's a vacation for my wife and daughter.  I'm still here.  The idea of air travel, even a short flight (and the possibility of being stuck on the tarmac) terrifies me.  A car is bad enough.  Plus, since learning I have Sjogren's Syndrome, my misery on previous plane flights before my 30s, (or car trips using the A/C for that matter) became clear.  Kinda like a frog, you dry out the air around me and I suffer.

So, an inability to be confined to a seat for extended periods combined with being extra-vulnerable to my surroundings, and plane travel just doesn't happen, at least for now.  You'd also be correct if you pieced together why I consider this Sacramento Valley the equivalent of hell.  It's hot and dry, or freezing and dry, or freezing with tulle fog, or windy and dry.  Windy and dry is the worst.  I miss coastal fog, so much.

Anyways . . .

The house is mine, along with the dog (she has yet to leave the front window, however, awaiting the girls return, and it has not even been a day), so even in that respect I am alone.

In days of old, the idea of having the house to myself would have resulted in "Man Cave" living, sports TV, video games, beer, whiskey, maybe other non-prescription medicinals, the recliner, pizza, ice cream, and a cranked up stereo.

I still have the sports and stereo (Rolling Stones playing now), and some medicinals, unfortunately, prescription pain killers that do not include marijuana, a non-prescription drug of choice for a time.  I may miss marijuana as much as I miss coastal fog.  [Mental Note - I must do an post on the Led Zeppelin question, "Are you dizzy when you're stoned?"]

Instead, this respite from family has become a work intensive marathon.

Normally, my day starts as the kid goes to school and the wife goes to work.  I do some rehab exercise of one form or another, lasting anywhere from a half hour to three hours or even more if I am up to it.  Then, I am recovering from the exertion, pretty much the remainder of the day.  On good days, I am able to do some "adjustments" in these hours after exercise while I recover.  Though, in truth, the "adjustments" take a toll on me as well, sometimes quite significant, which requires further recovery time.

Written of before, I call them "adjustments," my attempts to unwind, to find my balance, to work the fold(s) - See Seat Belt Metaphor - to continue undoing the damage of a life lived contorted and perverted out of balance, which had likely been exacerbated by a childhood injury.  As yet, unless I acheive a substantial physical change (which there have been several), these "adjustments" appear to be subluxation of joints to casual (or medical) observer, sometimes even to a degree of total dislocation of joints, with no objectively noticeable purpose, while clearly causing discomfort and pain to accomplish.

During these hours when I "adjust," it most definitely becomes compulsive.  I try variation after variation, sometimes trying to repeat a motion with greater extension, sometimes trying to envision, then attempt, all new motions previously believed impossible (or simply never attempted such that my body finds the motion completely new, using a muscle the way it should be used, but in a way it never has been used - like trying to wiggle one's ears if you never have).  I start with just a few, then find some success or get new ideas or retry old ones, and invariably find myself losing sight of time, engrossed in constant attempts to ease tensions and find balance, oblivious to everything save physical sensations and attempted movements.

On the few occasions I have spent significant time with people outside the family (like a trip to Reno with my wife's close friends and our children), it became very apparent that an individual subluxing or dislocating his arms and legs, intentionally, is disquieting to others, even frightening when it begins to occur compulsively.  This is one reason I avoid other people and outings.  It is just hard, and painful over time, to keep still.  Also, like many things, it is difficult to try (as in focus on a new motion) when others are watching.

The same is true in front of my own family, though my wife has worn a brave face for so long, and I try not to do much in front them, especially the 5 year old.  Hell, I nearly had a nervous breakdown when she tried to copy a few of the things Daddy does (I'm so glad she finally understands they are not fun).  And while I often must walk to a different room to attempt to release tension or untweak a body part as a result of being too still for too long, for the most part, I do not allow myself to get anywhere near compulsive "adjustments" while my family is home.

As such, my normal "adjustment" period follows a Bell curve on their work/school days, with little done on most weekends.  The "adjustments" gets more intense as it gets compulsive, until the apex, where I realize I need to stop before my family gets home.  Compulsive movements don't stop easily, so it takes effort and meditative relaxation, which tends to still include moments of "adjusting" such as to be represented by the back side of the Bell curve.

On a good day, I rehab, "adjust" with some tangible or subjective success, and cease any compulsive movements before the family gets home. 

While I define what is happening to me, or rather, what I am doing, in a variety of ways (whether as an ultimate goal to be attained or as an unstoppable progression that simply will work out eventually after having broken the proverbial levee so many years ago), I often consider this my job.  It is, I believe, the only way I can become not only useful, but possibly even healthy.  The more I put in, the faster I will reach the end game, whatever that may be.

This is why I now find myself on a working vacation. 

Free of family, I have spent easily 16 of the last 22 hours doing rehab exercises or "adjusting" (to claim 6 hours of sleep may be a stretch, however), and I fear the only thing that will stop me from working during the next 80+ hours of their vacation is exhaustion, even though I know there will be a price for such a marathon.  I'm probably going to be really, really sore, most likely in substantial pain, for a week or more once my family returns. 

But how can I let this is a window of opportunity, in a Summer that has not allowed me much rehab time, pass without making the most of it?  I am compelled to invite compulsion.

Of course, we plan to hit the State Fair on Friday after their return.  It is probably our only chance this year given other schedulings, and one of the few close outings of substance I can attend, just walking around. 

So, if you see a guy at the State Fair on Friday, most likely wearing a Cal cap or sun hat on his head, Vibram Fivefingers on his feet, limping or at least walking oddly, with noticeable side effects from Adderall and Vicodine (can't imagine how else I'll manage the outing), with a wife and kid in tow (well, they'll be towing me), that will be yours truly.  Feel free to say, "Moo," and introduce yourself.

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