It’s been about five months since my last post. I have thought about writing many times, but I have avoided it. Sitting here today, it is hard to write. Many days, for lack of a better expression, I still feel very disoriented. The last several months have felt a lot like an episode of the Twilight Zone. I feel like I left my office one day, entered a time warp, and returned to the same place two years later. And at first glance everything looks the same as when I left, but when you take a really close look, nothing is the same.
For the first few weeks, I kept waiting for the wheels to fall off. I worked 20 hours, then 30 hours then 40 hours a week. With each increase in hours, I worried I wasn’t going to be able to handle it physically. But I kept working more and more and nothing bad happened. I moved up to 50 and 60 hours. Still, no problem. I didn’t start to run into problems physically until I hit a stretch of weeks where I was working 70+ hours a week. Then I did start to feel exhausted and overwhelmed. But that’s pretty damn good, in my books. It took my body some time to get used to sitting/standing at a desk for prolonged periods of time. There was a whole pile of muscles that I hadn’t been using during the period of time I was spending many hours a day in bed. But eventually, the muscles adjusted.
Mentally, the transition back to my regular life was a lot harder. This I foolishly didn’t anticipate at all. I can’t really put into words what it feels like to leave your office one day and not come back for two years. Everything was the same and everything was different. The place had kept moving along, cases and lives moved along during those two years. My life just stopped. It was really disorienting. I felt a bit like Tom Hanks in Cast Away after he returns to civilization. Did I still really have a place here? Would I be able to find a new place here? Could I handle the hours? The old me loved the high stress, crazy hours of my job. Would the new me feel the same way? Who the hell is the new me anyway?
I felt completely off balance and untethered for the first few months back. Slowly but surely, I have started to regain my footing and get reintegrated. There were lots of discouraging and overwhelming days and hours, but little by little I started to feel at home at work again. I have a lot of support at work and at home and that helped a lot. But it has not been easy.
When I got sick I felt like I completely lost my identity: I didn’t look like myself, I couldn’t function like myself. My work and running were a huge part of my identity and I lost both. While I was sick, I developed a whole new circle of connections to people that were sick and struggling with the same disease I had, people who also got ripped out of their normal lives and were trying to come to terms with their scary new reality too. I am functioning very well now, but still have signs of some problems and feel like I am standing with one foot in each of my former worlds – my former healthy world and my former sick one. I don’t feel like I completely fit in either one anymore. The big challenge for me right now is figuring out how to integrate them both into what is yet to come.