I am sitting here, in the very early hours of the morning in a hotel room in Sarasota, sipping a cup of Good Earth Sweet & Spicy tea. The circumstances around me being here mesh well with something I’ve been wanting to write about. If you bear with me, I will tie the two together a little farther down the page.
Chronic illness in general and Chronic Fatigue specifically make one’s world smaller. At least it has for me. I live in a small beach town on the east coast of Florida. Most days I don’t leave the house, but even when I do I seldom venture more than 10-15 miles from home. My illness simply doesn’t permit it. More specifically, I have a very real fear of what could happen if I am caught somewhere far from home and my CFS takes my legs out from under me, which it has demonstrated it is quite capable of doing. I also have to be careful of how much I do in a given day because the consequences can be rather daunting.
This is a pretty stark contrast from what my life was like just a few years ago. I used to commute 50-60 miles each way to work. I used to run errands either during lunch or after work adding even more miles. In a week, I could easily put 600-700 miles on my car. This was my normal, and I really didn’t even think about it much. I used to drive here to Sarasota like I did today, see my doctors (as I will this week), go out to dinner, and drive back home the same day. Then I would likely go to work the next day.
My world has gotten much smaller. I have become accustomed to living in a much smaller world, even if it was thrust upon me. Part of constructing a life is not just becoming accustomed, but rather embracing this smaller world in which I now live. Doing so has opened my eyes and my life to a lot of things I never saw before. While I never would have thought so, my life is richer for it.
There were so many things I missed when I was making that long drive every day. My wife and I found a wonderful Thai/Vietnamese restaurant a few miles from our house that makes excellent sushi and the most amazing pho I’ve had in a very long time. Every time we go, I tell myself I am going to try one of the many other things they have on the menu, but I always end up getting the pho. It is that good.
There is an Irish pub just up the street. I had known about it for years, but it took me getting sick to actually go there and try it. They have Guinness and Murphy’s Red on tap and a first-rate French Dip sandwich. They also have live music on the weekends. I can think of far worse ways of spending an evening than drinking some good stout and singing along with Irish folk songs.
Having a smaller world has forced me to look closer at what is around me. It has also taught me to appreciate small things. As I wrote last week: small victories. A meal is no longer just sustenance. It is something to be planned and savored. A night out at the pub has become an event. Even time itself exists on a different scale than it used to.
For now it is enough to be sitting here in this hotel room, enjoying my tea, and getting ready to spend the next two day seeing doctors. It is enough for me to be able to write this post and express myself to whoever might come by and read it. It is enough for me to be in this moment.
Before I go though, I should explain how I was able to leave my small world and venture across the state to be here. In a word: music. I brought a stack of CD’s in the car (yes, I still listen to CD’s), and it was the work of Billy Joel, Chris Isaak, Harry Chapin and Paul Simon that helped me arrive in one piece. Is there a price to be paid for wandering so far from home? Absolutely, and I will certainly pay it. But my doctors are here, and that means I had to be as well. Why are my doctors so far from where I live? That will have to be a story for another time.