COVID, My Body, and Me

In an effort to write more, something that’s good for my brain and also provides a much needed creative outlet, I’m going to try and pop off a quick personal take without pulling my usual trick of thinking about it for weeks and/or months first. Unfortunately for us all, I’m in a narcissistic place and I’m spending way too much time fretting about the state of my body. I can’t stop it, even though I don’t think it’s good for me, or anyone.

A year inside hasn’t been an equal experience for everyone. On the one hand, my household has been incredibly fortunate to have the ability to shelter and work from home; on the other, the scaling down of life to a one bedroom apartment in a major COVID hotspot has been unequivocally bad for our health.

In the spirit of the Year of Intention, I have been using this time inside to continue to address some health issues. I’m currently being treated for longstanding hip and knee troubles, though confirmed that I’m likely to need surgery on my hips at some point due to malformation. Win some, lose some.

And yet, in spite of twice a week physio, I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. I hate it and feel really uncomfortable in my body these days. The minimum two miles walking a day I used to do just moving around the city has been severely curtailed and my world has shrunk to a one bedroom apartment. I have no idea what my caloric intake is supposed to be under these circumstances, but nothing I try seems to work in managing weight – which for me definitely has a stress component.

And speaking of stress! I’ve noticed quite a few common symptoms of that as well, including hair loss, unusual breakouts, and eczema flair ups over the past year. Sexy…

It’s such a weird thing to try and unpack but staying inside and doing nothing for a year has been stressful! Humans aren’t built to live like we’ve been living for the last year and it’s definitely taking a mental and physical toll. It’s nowhere near being on the frontlines of healthcare or essential workers, and I don’t pretend it’s even close, but I stand by my statement that we humans have not evolved nor structured our society for the kind of lifestyle many of us have been forced into for the last twelve months.

And then there’s the mental load…it’s a lot.

Trying to follow the news in two countries, to track risks for our families or try and plan travel to see them (which we haven’t been able to do in years), to keep up with political situations which affect us as expats and citizens of one country while residents of another, all against the backdrop of daily bad news of death and sickness is grinding. It takes mental and emotional energy to document and process, to make decisions or plans and then have to remake them the next day or week.

Chatting with faithful commenter and friend of the blog CJ in the comments, we both mentioned having to take “days off” from the news, or emails, or social media or (I assume) just inputs of information. “The cognitive load is wild,” I typed, meaning every word. Trying to follow a planet-wide scale event while living mostly in the same spot in my living room for a solid year now is such a perspective whiplash every single day.

The overall result is a sense of permanent mental and physical discomfort or discontent which occasionally can tip over into something even more unhealthy.

I’m happy to report that the combo of drugs, therapy, and physio is still helping somewhat. I have a welcome if ridiculous looking shag of hair regrowth that’s a couple of inches long and sticks up awkwardly no matter what I do to try and tame it. I’m trying to both be kind to my body while trying to make it work the best I can under less than ideal circumstances. But a year into this I still haven’t found a balance or way to make things work in a way that produces some semblance of health that I can work with.

7 thoughts on “COVID, My Body, and Me”

  1. First — HUGS! We miss you guys and every day I wish so much I could get on a damn airplane and get OUT of here — the apartment, the state and the U.S.

    As a fellow ex-pat, boy does this hit hard. I so so so so miss our dear friends in Canada. I crossed back into the U.S. from there in September 2019….and have not been back since. My mother’s ashes are a 7 hour flight away and I can’t go and scatter them. I haven’t seen my 92 year old father in 2 years.

    And our bodies. UGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I fell really hard into the road 2 weeks ago and so badly hurt my knee and wrist I can’t exercise without pain. The loneliness and boredom are also really hard. I think we just have to be REALLY forgiving and pray this shitty year never happens again.

    We CAN go to the gym here and just joined a new one, so that is promising. Our vaccinations are May 18.

    1. Hugs back! We’ve not had gyms for huge stretches of time, including now, and I think that’s impacted Jeff more than me. I can exercise at home, but some days it’s just impossible to muster up the desire or willpower to do so. It’s purely an internal thing and I don’t blame anyone else but myself for it, but true nonetheless

      1. Don’t be so hard on yourself!!

        We do have a choice but I would lose my marbles if I had to exercise only at home….I am losing it, as it is, with it now being an office all the time and not JUST a refuge/respite — which is what home should be!

        Anyone sharing space in a small apartment is coping with a lot as it is!

  2. Echoing Broadsideblog about being really forgiving of ourselves. I’m clinging to the upcoming easing of lockdown – even if it were to be delayed (hopefully not) it’s still very close! Hang in there we are almost at some relief.

    1. I know, I know, you’re right. But I think we’re going to be dealing with this for a long time one way or another and it feels almost brash to get too hopeful.

  3. I really feel for you city dwellers. For me, and probably scores of other rural folk, pandemic life looks identical to prepandemic life except I wear a mask to work and the store. If I lost my ability to go walk in the woods (something I just returned from), I’d be dangerously depressed. Thinking of you.

    1. Thanks internet friend. While a city girl at heart, I have definitely longed for some fields or woodlands to tramp through over the last year and am glad you’ve have such a relatively “normal” way to move through this time.

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