These last few weeks had brought some health mysteries my way. Not a crisis situation or anything, but certainly a mystery.
I’d been experiencing an extreme level of exhaustion mixed with a dash of dizziness and headaches, plus my favourite symptom: fogginess in the brain that has affected my memory.
A few trips to the doctor, and a blood test (ugh, needles) found a B12 deficiency and vitamin D deficiency, which has explained the symptoms for the most part. I’m hopeful that with a change in diet and lifestyle, this will fade as quickly as it came. Or at the very least it will turn out to be something quite manageable.
But regardless of its duration, this ‘out-of-nowhere’ health scare has certainly caught my attention. I’ve always maintained the mindset of "pushing through it", believing that my body would simply catch up. But when your body breaks down or turns against you, it forces you to ask some hard questions.
The obvious question is: ‘How much time do we really have left?’ But that’s a question I’ve always asked, even as a kid. I’ve always done my best to live deliberately, though it's easy to forget sometimes with the distractions of a busy world. I’ve tried to ensure that my pursuits were enjoyable, or meaningful, or helpful to other people. Of course, being me, I try to do everything at once - university, fitness classes, volunteering, full-time work, pursuing about 6 different hobbies - this tendency is what caused me to ignore the signs for so long, and got me into this mess in the first place!
These past two weeks as I've predominantly been confined to the couch or the bed when not at work, I started to consider a new question: 'How long will I feel this energetic? This capable? This free of pain?'
And suddenly the question of time becomes far more complex. Because it’s not just time itself that is slipping through our fingers. Sometimes we lose our ability to use it in a meaningful way.
It was a scary thought to have at 26 years old. It made me re-examine once again how I spend my time.
I avoid a lot of new experiences because I'm afraid. Of failure, messing up, not saying the right thing. I get anxious about meeting new people and having to engage them in conversation for long periods. I worry about getting hurt.
But I'm only 26 years old.
After a year of on-and-off lockdown, and over two months of struggling with this "mystery illness", I WANT to have meaningful experiences, try new things and meet new people. I WANT to experience everything I can, before my energy & capability are diminished.
As I recover, I don't want to waste another second of being healthy. Because you never know when your body will fail you.
Mum got osteoarthritis in her feet in her 50s. One of her favourite things to do was walk - the Otways, Wilsons Prom, Halls Gap - up mountains, along riverbeds, through valleys. Now she struggles to get around her beautiful garden.
Acknowledging that our bodies won't always be this active and healthy is a step in making our days more meaningful, in using the time we have as healthy people more wisely.
Whether you spend more time playing with your kids, trying new active hobbies, exercising more, eating well, climbing those mountains or bungee jumping off bridges - that's up to you.
Me? I'm going to wake up to a new question: 'How will I make this day meaningful?'