Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Enjoying the Civic Holiday Weekend while Coping with Severe Stress Affects

What's in a name?  The first Monday in August in Canada is commonly called Civic Holiday, a chance to enjoy another three-day weekend in Canada.  It goes by several names according to what city or province you live in.  But the idea is the same:  celebrate; enjoy; live.

Three day weekends become problematic when you're coping on a daily basis with "altered abilities" caused by unrelenting, escalating, brutal stress over a period of years. When the energy tank in your body gets so deleted that there are no reserves left.  When at the best of times, you're running on fumes.

That is me.  My life.  What I deal with daily.

You've heard the saying that "the eyes are bigger than the stomach?"  Or the Biblical quote:  "the flesh is willing but the spirit is weak?"  In my case, it's the opposite:  my spirit is willing BUT my flesh is weak.  What I want to do, what my mind tells me I can do, I find I can't.

Learning to live with this - and live like this - has been a difficult change for me.  I once did.  I now be.

So we came to yet another long weekend, thinking of options.  What can I realistically do?  The key word being "realistically".

My mind fumbled through several options finally deciding on a visit to the Toronto Zoo - about an hour or so away from us.  A day trip.  Bringing, of course, two indispensable items:  hubby and my camera.

Before even leaving the house that morning knowing that (a) energy is severely limited and (b) unpredictable as in I can go from feeling physically and emotionally on top of the world one minute to having trouble breathing the next, we formed a "plan".

The panda exhibit is on.  Two pandas on loan from China.  Therefore, the plan was to see that exhibit first and then go from there, monitoring the energy levels constantly (almost sounds like I'm a car with an oil leak, doesn't it?)

It was a good plan.  Especially considering the wait for the interactive exhibit.  We became part of a long line snaking around lines formed by ropes before finally entering the building.  Following hoards of like-minded people, we snaked through the exhibit before finally funnelling through the bamboo tunnel.  Each step getting us closer to our intended goal:  the pandas.

Success at last!  The two pandas, one male and one female, are kept separated.  Above is the female who was enjoying the Toronto sun; while the male was kept inside with a separate (crowded) viewing area.

Leaving the panda exhibit, emotionally I felt good.  Physically was starting to get challenging.  We decided to "bite the bullet" and find the zoomobile and ride it around rather than walking.  A good choice EXCEPT that it took a lot of walking to get to the next zoomobile location.

By that time, I was thoroughly tired and ready for a rest.  Breathing coming in spurts.  I was starting to look longingly at those who were using mobility devices.  But I persevered - and had a riot taking pictures.  (So, what else is new?)

By the time we got to the zoomobile stop, I was barely able to function.  I broke out in a sweat all over trying to access the machine for tickets.  A feat only accomplished with the assistance of my long sufferin' spouse (and part-time sherpa).

The zoo has renovated its Eurasia exhibit and the only way to see it is on the zoomobile - so besides the practical consideration of not physically being able to walk any further, the zoomobile allowed us to see a part of the zoo we would not have otherwise been privy to.

The train actually goes through gates into the enclosure.  Taking pictures on a moving vehicle proved to be a challenge - but a fun one.

As we wove around the zoo on the train, it became more and more evident that walking around was not going to happen.

So we rode around - a couple of times.

It was actually more fun the second time around as we knew what we were going to see and could try to get the camera ready in advance.  It was also fun knowing that I was coping with the limitations imposed by my altered abilities - and coping well.

Pictures like this one.  Experiences like this are what keep me going.  Even when the body wants to lie down and say:  "I quit."  These good times spent with my best friend (who also happens to be my husband) are what give me hope for a better - which in my case translates to less challenging - tomorrow.

Accepting that I now have limitations which are not easily understood because they are not linked to an organic cause has not been easy.  Yet, it's a necessary part of the recovery process.

What will my world look like?  What will my "new normal" level out to be?  I'm not going to know unless I keep on keeping on.  Muddling through.  One day, one experience, at a time.

This day, it was the zoo.  Tomorrow, it might well be something else.

Going home through Toronto we came to a slow down - rather a bottleneck.  Bumper to bumper traffic creeping along.  We saw a cloud of smoke.  Not one but two fire trucks raced past us.  At one point, we saw flames.  By the time, we crept past, this was all that was left of the commotion.

Needless to say, someone was having a rougher go of it at that moment than I was.

For that I am thankful.

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