Pale light

It’s Monday morning, and H has gone to school. Many parents would be on their way to work for the day, but I’m lucky enough to work from home. This is a precious time to me. The house is still, I can hear the birdsong outside, and Gwinny is draped in liquid feline fashion across my thighs, sharing warmth.

Unlike many, I have no aversion to Mondays. I may not like the early morning much, because getting out of bed is hard and needs me to be awake for more than an hour beforehand. But that peace from having the house to myself after a weekend of noise and bounce? It’s my time to breathe and set my objectives for the week, when I’m able.

Parked here on the sofa, gazing at the changing light of the sky in the late winter sunrise, I try to assess where on the scale I am with the fibromyalgia symptoms. Is this a working week? A bit of work or a lot? Unbearable pain and impenetrable brain fog, or a more gentle ache and a light mist?

I complete my daily check-in with the different parts of my body that can cause issues. This felt like a lot of effort the first few times I did it, but I’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to tune in and adapt my schedule accordingly than it is to charge headlong at what needs doing. I don’t help anyone if I use up a week’s energy in one day and then can’t work, cook, or more generally look after myself.

Last night I lay in bed with electric stabbing pains coursing up and down as I prayed for sleep. Today I’m sluggish and achy on the physical front, but my brain seems to function. I can string sentences together, managed to complete a sudoku puzzle, and was able to remember the contents of the BBC news bulletin ten minutes after, so today is a day for working and a welcome chance to catch up on some of the things I’ve been unable to do this year because the fibromyalgia has got in the way.

In a moment, I’ll get up and prepare my day. So much of this condition is about management and routine: if I can imprint onto my muscle memory that the day starts with making sure I have a drink and some fruit to hand, and that I’m located somewhere that will minimise the number of times I have to get up or go up and down stairs, I have some hope that on the bad days the habits are sufficiently ingrained that I don’t need to rely on my foggy brain but can instead do things on autopilot.

It’s a strange life, but it is mine. The sky in the window has become a pale, cement grey; the trees are still, with no wind to stir the dead leaves that failed to fall in the autumn. It’s tempting to take the view as a metaphor for my life, but I would reject that. The gentle play of the light as I watch is a reminder that time is passing, nothing more.

Gwinny gets up, stretches, blinks slowly at me before placing a cold, damp nose on my hand. I have my orders. And now my day begins.

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