packing
Catheters to the left of me, undies to the right.

I awoke in an empty bed this morning.

One of my first thoughts was “Shit! Neal never adjusted my Birkenstock straps.” Neal’s absence brings up all sorts of silly thoughts like this. Something that would take him two minutes will likely take me 15 if I have the patience to hang in there. It’s not that I can’t do things. It just takes time and energy, two things I am short on.

In a few days I leave for a week of work-related fun. Well, sort of fun. See, I helped plan both of the events I’m attending (plus two I’m not), which means I won’t relax for the duration, convinced that room set ups won’t work, buses won’t arrive, and diets won’t be accommodated as requested.

More stressful, though, is my own preparation. My famously frugal father always surprised me when he’d say to anyone fretting over packing, “We can always buy what we forget!” Alas, with chronic illness, the stakes for packing are much higher. Pills must be sorted to ensure that I’m not overly shaky* or spastic. Most of my prescriptions come with extra restrictions, so I shudder to think of the hoops I’d have to jump to get them outside my regular pharmacy.  Also, you also can’t just go to a drug store and say, “Hi! I’d like some catheters, please.” I mean, you can. I bet you wouldn’t get any catheters out of it, though. (Stupid recreational catheterizers, ruining it for the rest of us!) Mine come to me once a month via mail, and the horror of being without has resulted in a Catheters First packing policy.

So, what’s the big deal, right? You sort the drugs. You pack the catheters. You put on your big girl panties and then count out enough for the trip (plus two extras, of course). Then you do the rest like anyone else would. Trouble is my best mobility aid, my wonderful, patient, super helpful spouse, has left (on a trip to Japan, no less) before I do. So there is no one here to gently remind me I’m being insane as I fret about every little thing. No one to run back and forth between rooms to fetch what I need as I pack. No one to tell me to sit down when I’m doing too much. No one to get the shrink wrap off the various products I’ve ordered off Amazon in spurts of maybe-I-need-this panic.

I’m not a spoonie, as I find my energy reserves more nuanced and, mercifully, renewable than that. Still, I know these next few days are going to require care if I’m to have anything left for the joys and frustrations that lie ahead. I also know that the emotional energy I’m burning in worry and stress exacerbates everything. So I’m meditating more. I’m maintaining my newfound commitment to exercise but doing it in small spurts to ensure I can get off the floor afterwards. I am packing a little every day.  I am remembering that I’m really good at event planning and that it’s wonderful that life has given me an opportunity to revisit what was my chosen career before MS got in the way. I am making lists and checking them thrice. And I am breathing.

*Or anxious! One of my anti-tremor medications is used primarily for anxiety, and I sure feel it if I miss a dose.

One thought on “Miss Dependent: In Which I Try to Keep My Shit Together Pre-Travel

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