I don’t get sick often. Not really. I get a cold once or twice a year, but that’s about it. Nothing to even keep me from going to work. The thing is I am very good at knowing when I need to take a break and rest, and I’m very good at saying so and getting the rest I need. But the pace and rigor of this semester have been such that all the rest I get on the weekends simply isn’t enough. And it’s honestly easier to go to work than to get a sub and make lesson plans for them. That is, it’s easier when I’m well. But this week, I’ve been forced to slow down, and I’m very grateful for it.
Last Wednesday, I felt tired. But whatever, I feel tired on Wednesdays. Don’t we all? But I also felt a sort of pain in my ears, like someone was pushing a Q-Tip out from the inside. It passed, and I didn’t think about it again. Thursday, I felt way off. I texted Will in the morning and said I just didn’t feel right, and that I needed to go to bed early that night. By the time I got home Thursday evening, I was really starting to feel bad. I felt feverish and weak, and my throat felt disgusting. I thought it was post-nasal drip, so I took some cold medicine and went to bed.
I stayed in bed until 12:30 Friday afternoon. I tried to get up a few times. I considered it every time I got up to go to the bathroom. But I just couldn’t do it. When Will left for work that morning, we thought I had the flu. But as the day wore on and I didn’t have a runny nose or anything, I started to suspect strep throat.
We went to Urgent Care on Saturday morning, and he confirmed the strep and told me I was not to go to work at least until Wednesday. He also wanted to take some blood to test for mono and said I should stay quarantined until that test came back. So after a quick trip to Target for some penicillin, I’ve been at home since then.
All of that was fine. It was miserable, but it was fine because I wasn’t scheduled to work at all on Friday or Saturday. I was to be a woman of leisure regardless of my health. But then Monday came, and with it, the guilt. I knew I couldn’t go to work, and I had made arrangements and lesson plans for subs, but I felt like I should have been doing something with my WHOLE DAY OFF. Right? Shouldn’t I have been planning lessons or making up tests or doing something productive that I could do from the comfort and rest of my sofa? My husband said no. He said my only job was to get better, and that I shouldn’t do any school work at all. He told me to read, to sleep, to start and finish an entire TV series on Netflix. And for the first time in my life, rest was really, really hard for me.
I realize now that my life had worked up to such a frenzy that coming down so suddenly felt like jumping off the Scrambler while the ride was still in motion. It was scary and not at all safe. But you can’t live your life on the Scrambler even if you do occasionally close your eyes and breathe deeply. So I took the leap.
This week, I have watched all available-on-Netflix episodes of Call the Midwife. I’ve also watched several episodes of New Girl and Doctor Who and no less than four movies. And sure, I did some laundry and some dishes, and I made the necessary arrangements and plans for substitutes for extra days, but I didn’t do any of the work that could wait. I’ll get back to that next week.
One of the hardest parts about being a grown up is finding the right balance between work, play, and rest. It’s hard because it’s different for everyone, so you can’t use others’ lives and needs to prescribe your own. It will only make you feel guilty or crazy or weak. I have coworkers who teach insane hours while also taking care of kids and chronic health problems and who knows what else. They do it, and they’re fine. But their bodies are different from mine, their support systems are different from mine, and their passions are different from mine. Their struggles are also different from mine, and I don’t know what their struggles are, but I know they exist. Nobody has it all together. So all I can do is listen to my own body and give it what it needs. This week, rest has been very, very good.