I am currently on short term disability leave from my job as a retail manager. Retail just really kicks you in the ass when you have a chronic disease so everyone thought it would be better for me to take two months off and focus on getting better. I wake up around ten every morning and it goes either one of two ways: I’m either really depressed that I am at a point in my life at 25 years old where I need to take disability leave from work because I’m in the process of some sort of neurological disease diagnosis or I am really ecstatic that I can turn over and go back to sleep and then sit around all day in my pajamas and eat chocolate sprinkle candies because screw you you can’t tell me how grief works when you’re dealing with being diagnosed with some sort of neurological condition. Oh wait, there are also the days where I flip the “roller coaster” switch and I steadily go back and forth between both extreme emotions on an almost hourly basis throughout the day. Boyfriend loves those days! (That sounds sarcastic and only because it would be if we were referring to me, but boyfriend is actually the nicest most understanding human so he has an amazingly high tolerance for my emotional instability).
Yesterday was one of those days. I woke up to my alarm at ten a.m. and my shaky hands reached over the bed for my morning pill and then I smiled when I realized I could turn my geriatric heating pad back on and fall back asleep for another hour or two or three because I’m not on a schedule. “I’m winning life!” I definitely thought as my eyes grew heavier and I cuddled back down into my Star Trek TNG pillow that I bought just to make Boyfriend jealous that he doesn’t have it. Around noon I woke up again with a much different perspective. “Get your ass out of bed, you lazy human!” I said to myself. “It’s noon and everyone else has half a day of work under their belts already!” So I made myself feel guilty enough to crawl out of bed and test out my muscles for the day. Some days when I stand up things are really good and I feel like a normal functioning human being, other days well I feel the exact opposite I suppose. Yesterday I felt decent, kind of like a normal functioning human with a bit of a hangover and fatigue from spending a night dancing to Spice Girls songs on George Street. “Good enough!” I thought. I got dressed and did all the other morning ritual things and then made my way to my couch. I had planned a day full of cleaning and other productive things but as soon as I saw the couch down my ass went for what I suspected would be the entire day and hey that’s okay because I’m on sick leave and I’m supposed to rest right? All aboard the roller coaster!
While sitting on my couch eating chocolate sprinkle candies and waiting for season 1 of Dollhouse to load, because that was my new plan for the day, I looked down and was staring at two boxes. Those boxes contained two large bookshelves that Boyfriend helped me pick out at Wal-Mart the previous day. I recently moved into a new apartment and was feeling rather anxious because I have multiple boxes of books and had no where to place them. I just wanted visitors to see all of my books and to think I’m smart because surely if I own all of them I have read all of them! So Boyfriend brought me to Wal-Mart, searched high and low for the right bookshelves for his superficial, impatient girlfriend, even took pictures of barcodes to find a scanner and get the pricing for me, lugged them to the car, lugged them up 2 flights of stairs and then brought over all of his tools to put them together. Problem is Boyfriend has the flu so Boyfriend couldn’t come back over on this day to put those shelves together for me. He made me promise, though, that I would not attempt to put them together myself. “These bookshelves are heavy,” warned Boyfriend. “This will hurt you and we don’t like that remember,” warned Boyfriend. I nodded vigorously. It didn’t seem like a difficult concept to grasp. But in that moment yesterday, sitting on the couch, staring down at those boxes with those shelves, then staring across at all the tools, and then a little side glance to the corner of the room to see my boxes of books, I just felt taunted. “It’s all here at your disposal and in a couple hours your living room could be complete. Too bad you aren’t able bodied enough to use those tools!” my brain told me. “Shut up, brain!” was my response. I put down the chocolate sprinkle candies and picked up the tool box. “No one can tell me what I can’t do!” I cracked a few knuckles to emphasize just how much I meant business and then I got to work. I huffed and puffed just to move the shelves that had to be attached to each other. I read the instructions ten or fifteen times just to figure out which screw was which. But by god, I got it! I figured it out and set it all up and then I even found the right screwdriver!
I must have been a sight, surely, when I used that screwdriver to secure those shelves to each other. I had to find a way to balance the screw without holding it up because I needed to use both hands to turn the screwdriver. I would turn it two or three times and then sigh and take a break. This continued for over an hour. Finally the shelf was put together and the only remaining piece of the puzzle was the backboard that had to be nailed in. Just a little background information – I sometimes get this intention tremor in my right hand from the stupid medication I’m on. I, of course, had this tremor while mastering the bookshelf. My right hand is my dominant hand. That means I had to hammer tiny nails using my right hand! It just as easily could have been an Iron Man competition that I had to complete. The nails were so small and my left thumb seemed so huge. So I hammered my left thumb five or six times but finally I managed to nail that backboard in place. I ate a few chocolate sprinkle candies as a reward for the small victory and then I exhausted the rest of my daily energy by lifting that bookshelf up and putting it against the wall so I could bask in the glory of my finished product. I’m rather predictable so I’m sure you’ve already guessed that I found a way to somehow screw up the bookshelf. If you were thinking that – ding ding ding! You are right. I screwed the bottom shelf in upside down and I was so proud of the fact that I screwed it in at all that I didn’t bother to double check my work before I nailed the backboard to it. “It adds character,” my roommate joked when he got home later that evening.
I sent a picture of it to Boyfriend who responded with a sincere pride that I did it all myself which was quickly followed by the message “I TOLD YOU I WOULD DO IT FOR YOU!”
“I need to be able to prove to myself that I can still do some things for myself,” I told him. And that was honesty. It wasn’t done out of complete stubbornness (that of course played a huge role in it) but also a part of me just had to know that I could do something for myself. It’s very hard going from being an independent person who is trotting the globe with her business woman suitcase and swooping in to different cities to save the retail day (slight exaggeration) to being a damsel in distress that relies on Boyfriend to do the heavy lifting. I am so thankful for Boyfriend for always being there, and genuinely wanting to help, and not making me ask for it because it’s usually done before I get the chance to even ask, but dayum sometimes a girl just has to nail together a bookshelf on her own.
So the roller coaster made a turn and up we went towards the clouds. I sat back on the couch and just kept staring at that bookshelf. Sure it was a disaster of a bookshelf but screw anyone who tells me it’s not the most beautiful 40 dollar Wal-Mart bookshelf they have ever seen because I poured my sweat and tears into that fake oak furniture.
I woke today to tackle the second bookshelf because Boyfriend still has the flu and I was on a high from doing the first one all by myself. The roller coaster was in a downward spiral this morning though, as my arms hurt too much to even open my pill bottle thanks to all the hammering from the little anticipated Proving a Point 2013 event yesterday. I refused to be sad though, and I quickly muffled Boyfriend’s warnings that are becoming my subconscious and ignored the “I told you so’s” that played on repeat as I sat there in pain. Sure I couldn’t lift my arm to brush my hair for most of the morning but I could sit on that couch and stare at that bookshelf that I put together all by myself and envision where those packed up books would be placed once my arms worked well enough for me to lift a book.
“Take that, brain! I win again!” I thought and then happily fell asleep on the couch for the rest of the day because I’m on sick leave and I can sleep all day if I want and you can’t judge me.