Letter To Me

Dear immune system,

I know I don’t treat you right and for that I’m so sorry. I think part of it is that I never really had much role modelling about how to treat my body and instead inherited a very strict work ethic and ego-destroying philosophy. On the whole, I’m okay with that (I get stuff done! I’m responsible! I’m humble! I mean, I think I’m humble, maybe I’m not?) but I do recognize, at the fresh young age of 47, that I am probably making things harder than they have to be. I have friends and I have seen them do strange things like stay in bed all day because they are sick. This used to baffle me because the only thing that would make me stay in bed all day is broken legs or being in a hospital bed (even then, I’d probably be getting up and trying to vacuum the floor or something)
Its the incessant work ethic in me. The incredible self-denial legacy my father handed down from his Buddhist belief system. Thanks dad, I learned that my own desires are no reason to do anything. Everything must be decided upon by how it affects everything outside of me, but MY desires? Inconsequential.
Now I know my dad doesn’t really believe that so strictly as I learned it but it’s kind of too late: his experiment to raise a self-denying child kind of worked. I have managed in all these years to learn to embrace and love my desires but for some reason, health just hasn’t really been included in that quest. Frankly, I think that’s your fault, immune system. Maybe if you didn’t work quite so well I’d be more inclined to give in to occasional lassez-faire.

Anyway, I’m getting away from the point here. I’m trying to explain, dear immune system, how sorry I am that I treat you so bad. Granted, we both know that I actually eat pretty good; I’m not a packaged food kind of person and I really don’t like fast food. I love treats but I don’t eat them every day. I triumphed over my eating disorder many years ago (and what a battle that was, right?) and I don’t fret over my weight too much. So we both know its not diet that’s the problem here. I’ve even been exercising again (taking a while to get back up to speed but we’ll get there)

Its the sleep and the work, isn’t it?

I know, I know, I hate to “rest”. I hate to stop doing things and go lie down. Hell I have a hard time watching the few TV shows and movies I like, don’t I? I can’t even play a game for more than an hour before I”m ready to jump up and go do something “more productive”

And now you’re compromised often because of some stupid disease I contracted in some mysterious way a decade ago. I’m real sorry about that. It was not my intention to saddle you with little parasites you are forever fending off. I know it sucks to be invaded and now live under military threat all the time but its already done, they aren’t leaving any time soon so we both might as well move past apologies and entrench ourselves for the long haul.

There’s just one little issue I really want to bring up here. You fight too much. There are times, dear immune system, when you aren’t really going to win this battle right away. There are times you need to wait for reinforcements. But you keep slogging away, at half-capacity. This is not cool: I wish you’d just either do your job or take a break. My problems with allowing myself some relaxation and recuperation aren’t going to get any better when you fight with dying breath. I can’t decide “its time to take some time off” and do the right honorable thing like “I’m sick, I need to take it easy” when you keep the sickness barely at bay. I mean, its obvious I’m “getting” sick but I never seem to ACTUALLY get sick here. Just a kind of almost-miserable sort-of sick. Never enough to justify being laid up but never quite leaving me alone either.

Please, just make up your mind: do you want to eradicate the invaders or do you want to wait for back up? Cuz I can tell you right now, either method would probably be more effective and less time-consuming than what you’re doing right now.

Whatever you want me to change, I’ll change, I swear. I am sworn to start really taking good care of all of us around here but its really hard to do that when you make me too miserable to do important helpful things (shopping and cooking, exercising) but too functional to just hang it all for a few days.

I’m not mad, lord knows you do an amazing job! but dang I am getting frustrated. Like I said, I see my friends do this amazing thing called “days off” and I’d really like to give that a try… I hear staying in bed is the way to do it right but the last time i ever did that I was so doped up from surgery I couldn’t even begin to remember what it was like. As I understand it, resting is something that is really beneficial when you get sick. I’d like to give it a try. I can’t do that if you won’t work with me here.

Let’s do this together, shall we?



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