My homepage for awhile now has indicated that my public transit trips all the way across town and back in order to visit the zoo are “increasingly infrequent due to resource levels”. Today, I challenged my body to make the trip, and it didn’t go especially well.
It’s been a recent ongoing conversation with my therapist, the fact that my daily routine does seem to max me out despite by normative standards (I mean…) being fairly unimpressive.
Let’s be clear. My typical day runs something along these simple, repetitive lines:
8:00 AM: The alarm sounds to get up and feed the cat. I then return to bed and update the alarm to sound again at 10:00 AM.
10:00 AM: The alarm sounds again, and I might or might not repeatedly hit the snooze button for the next half an hour or more.
10:30 AM: I sit up in bed and do the morning rounds online: checking email and social, double-checking my calendar, opening my RSS reader and saving items to read later. This also is when I start the day’s entry in my weekly notes for therapy, including writing down any dreams I remember. Sometimes in this block I’ll also get in a short podcast or two. This takes up somewhere between an hour or two on most days.
12:00 PM: I get up, make the bed unless the cat is asleep and in the way, get cleaned up and dressed, and take my morning pills.
12:30 PM (let’s say): I have a bowl of cereal, an apple oatmeal crumble bar, and a cup of decaf coffee. Usually here I am getting in an episode of The Clone Wars. Often once breakfast is done I’m on the tablet or the laptop, maybe getting in some of what I’d saved to read later or maybe drafting something for the blog.
1:00 PM or 2:00 PM: I head out to the coffeeshop six blocks away to sit outside and read my current nonfiction book. If I didn’t have my apple oatmeal crumble bar earlier, I’ll have it now. If I did and I’m doing coffee toward the later part here, I might take a Clif bar with me. If I’ve laundry to do, I might put it in before I leave so that I don’t have to deal with the sensory racket.
3:00 PM: I make a sandwich for lunch sometime after getting back from the coffeeshop. Usually between getting home and making lunch I’m either on the laptop or watching television, or both. I might have run a grocery errand on the way home, or I might do that after lunch. The afternoon is more of being on the tablet or the laptop while watching television.
6:00 PM: I make dinner, or more likely I start it ten minutes before the hour when my watch tells me to stand up and move around. This is also when the cat gets fed.
7:00 PM (or thereabouts): I get in my evening walk, which on higher resource days means almost a mile and a half at around 17 minutes per mile. On lower resources days it likely means just under a mile at a slower pace. If I’d forgotten a grocery errand, I might do it at the end of the walk on the way home.
7:30 PM (or thereabouts): The evening passes much as the afternoon did.
11:00 PM: I go to bed and read fiction for an hour. Then I go to sleep.
Over the past month or so, I’ve been experiencing an increasing number of aches, pains, and tweaks in the back, both during my evening walks and during acts like taking off my shoes. There have been a few instances of my walks feeling like I’ve been climbing stairs despite walking flat, urban terrain.
There was a time when my pulmonologist wondered if my fatigue issues were a matter of deconditioning. It’s abundantly and increasingly clear that this is not the case, as months of keeping up the evening walk has yielded only an increase in the number of days when I have to keep it short and/or keep it slow, as well as the increase in aches and pains.
I’ve been living more or less just the inside of the fence that separates me from the edge of my resource cliff.
This, then, is the context in which today I challenged myself to go to the zoo.
I can’t, this far along, make a long story short, but let me get right to this particular point: the fatigue hit me less than an hour after arriving at the zoo. The back aches started not long after that. The “stair legs” not long after that. Having arrived not long before 3:00 PM, I left at about 4:15 PM. Easily one of my shortest ever visits.
It’s important, too, to understand that this was on a drizzly and overcast day that only barely made it to 60°F. This is my ideal weather because the bright sun and the warm air isn’t around to deplete me. This weather is what works for me.
Nonetheless, the resource drain left me close to sobbing fits not once but twice while making my way home. As my levels dropped, the being dyspraxic rose. As usual in transits back from the zoo when depleted, the music stim that is Metric’s Fantasies (and some of Formentera when that ran out) kept me self-regulated enough to make sure I knew what transfer to make.
Sitting here writing this, I realize I don’t especially remember the walk from the bus stop to my front door. This, too, is fairly typical when resources are failing. Stupidly, once I was already home I didn’t want my usual dinner and made myself walk the four blocks to the store and back to get a pizza to throw in the oven, and the walk back was very much like one of those mornings where you’ve been up all night long and are walking home somewhere around dawn and you feel like you’re going to cry, drop, and vomit—possibly all at the same time.
At any rate, what troubles me here is that despite a daily routine that seems like nothing when viewed through a normative lens, I appear to be so stretched thin that even my beloved mental health respite of trips to the zoo might start to feel beyond me. Yet the government machinery responsible for managing our nation’s human surplus no doubt will continue to deny that I am disabled.
(I mean, there’s a capacity gap and there’s a capacity gap. I don’t have half the health challenges as some and yet for the first time since the last day of August—did I really not go to the zoo for the entire month of September?—I alter my daily routine to do a semi-routine thing and it breaks me.)
I’m not okay with this. It’s the only thing I do that takes me out of my neighborhood other than the occasional need to go to the doctor. I’m not in any way mentally prepared to be stuck on the peninsula for the duration.
I’m only 53—two weeks from 54—and I’m not ready for my world to shrink to a circle with a radius of less than half a mile.