Thursday, October 3, 2013

Recovery Blues

About two weeks ago, I swam 4km, without pause, in just under a couple of hours. I was pleased with myself. Then a conflation of circumstance provided a good excuse not to go to the pool or gym for about two weeks, setting me on a vicious circle that I will try to illuminate. Our demons have less power over us in the light of day.

There seems to be no escaping the fact that recovery is so slow most of the time, that it feels as though I'm making no progress. Nearly two years after the strokes, I feel, if anything, in a worse place physically than a year ago. This is objectively false. A year ago, I could not swim for two solid hours. That doesn't alter how I feel about it though: my brain is pretty stupid and impatient. Unless I actively work to contradict this feeling, it reigns. 

Then there the deficits that are most debilitating, whose changes are so slow that I have to wonder whether I'm improving or delusional. Physical strength is relatively easy, wobbling eyeballs and shaking arms are hard. I have to sustain a high level of trust that these things are improving, and will continue to do so, although there's no way to verify that there is any change. 

So, I'm already facing a struggle up a slow hill. Add in the unfortunate reality that it takes about three days of rest before I have deteriorated enough physically to notice a reduction in function, and the struggle is Sisyhpean. The memory of how easy things used to be, the casual eptitude of the people around me is Tantalizing. To stretch this analogy, whenever I feel like I have accomplished something, the eagles of depression come and feast on the liver of my optimism. Prometheus-like, it regrows, but not overnight. 

When I take a longer rest from exercise, as little as a few days, I don't want to start again because my progress is so slow, and so easily reversible that it feels pointless. Worse, I know that starting again means never stopping. Not, at least for more years than I can effectively compass. There is no end state. I can tie my activity to other goals, but recovery itself is too elusive to have meaningful expectations. 

The only refuge, it seems, is to be bloody, bold and resolute. Rationally, I know that I am better now than I was a year ago, and so I must let Reason dominate while Emotion endures. Boo-hoo.