To be grateful for

Thanksgiving Day is Thursday and I feel a certain obligation to acknowledge the season. I am also not feeling much of the gratitude right now, partly because I’ve been less than optimally well – it seems my respiratory tolerance for miscellaneous fumes and fragrances maxes out at about five days in a row, and Sunday was Day Six of exposure to things I would be better off not breathing.

It started with exposure to lingering residue from carpet cleaner at the office that lasted all last week, followed by plumber’s glue on Friday night (we have a new toilet that doesn’t leak!) and an assortment of other scented irritants on Saturday and Sunday, none of which would individually have been an issue, but which at the end of a week’s aggregate exposure added up to an uncomfortable and unpleasant couple of days of sticky, squeaky cough, itchy eyes, and the exhaustion that comes from being short of air. This is the body I live in, and this is how it works.

I guess I am grateful for the chemistry that provides me with pills to swallow, sprays and powders to inhale, and stuff to squirt up my nose, all of which in concert work to persuade my respiratory tract that it can stand down from its declaration of war on the air. It is a fragile and uneasy peace.

I can also be grateful that I have fair wages for my work, and employer-sponsored medical coverage that means I can afford this chemical cocktail, which still costs me about $2 a day (but would be closer to $15 a day if I were trying to pay manufacturer’s list price.)

I am not looking forward to the large family gathering descending upon my house on Thursday. There is a lot of prep work still to be done, and I am not feeling up to it. I am grateful that Spouse is far more domestically inclined than I am, and will be doing the majority of the meal preparation, even if he occasionally does not do things the way I think they should be done.

I am hoping to get some extra sleep over the long weekend. I need to get better at treating myself gently when I have a nasty reaction, but the timing is never convenient, and I know from long experience that I really can push through it on willpower and determination, put off indulging my own need for rest and healing in the interest of getting done whatever it is that someone expects to be done. I’ve always considered that stubbornness a positive attribute; but polarity happens, and it seems to me in this context that there’s a shadow side to any virtue and that I need to explore (and come to terms with) this one. It’s a limitation, and those are not easy to deal with – but it’s not a rigid one, and those might be harder to deal with, because it’s not a question of “Can I keep going?” but rather “Should I?”

I also need to go to bed half an hour ago, because I am working tomorrow.

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