Jul 112011
 

I was at a wedding. Like many weddings, the marriage part was the shortest and quietest, the heart of the day, but only the beginning. Then came the photos, and then came the reception. The reception was appetizers and chit-chat; finding seats and wedding party intro; dinner and speeches; and dancing till two.

What struck me was the energy, lots of energy, healthy energy. Energy I don’t have and had forgotten I had.

My, how far one falls when ill or injured, and how much it changes one’s perception of normality. And how big a hill it is to climb to rejoin it.

The fall is swift. Slow it is to adjust to the bottom and learning all about it. Climbing back up is sometimes done in only a year or two; for those lucky ones, it is a struggle, but reaching normality is doable. For those of us whose fall is long and whose climb is full of unknowables, without tools or received knowledge, the sunmit of normality shifts position. It seems to be within reach, and then you attend a wedding and realise it’s not even close.

People don’t have to rest up for a wedding. No taking the day off or week off. Those of us with chronic illnesses or injuries must set aside entire days. Progress means setting aside several hours on several days and not doing anything mentally or physically taxing the other hours. Progress means accepting this and not resenting the fact that “normals” do not have to take time off work or spend boring hours resting or watching TV. The idea of not having to rest up before the event is unfathomable.

People can handle the noise, although I think DJs believe the point of their work is to drown out conversation. (Even at church, the music group doesn’t believe in turning down the volume after the service so that people can speak to each other at normal levels.) Once the dancing begins, the volume is so high, it’s an assault, the bass so pounding, it hurts the heart. But “normal” people either dance or watch the dancers; they do not go in search of the one quiet spot where senses aren’t screaming and voices can be heard, where only the kids keep you company. “Normal” people have enough puff power and good-enough hearing or good-enough comprehension not to have to follow the lips to be able to bellow in each other’s ears to be heard and to hear. “Normal” people may be relieved for the noise to end after several hours, but it doesn’t tire them out from the get-go.

Some people dance, dance, dance. They may take breaks, but then The Macarena comes on, and they’re in a circle with the rest, grooving the moves. Even the elderly get up to dance, although they are usually content to watch the young ‘uns enjoy themselves as they themselves once did at the weddings of previous generations. Still, the definition of elderly is no longer people in their sixties or even seventies. Us young “non-normals” get up to dance, then our bodies balk or hearts say enough, and we must sit. Or, as I discovered, the brain cannot process loud back-beated music, people close by dancing their own moves, and figuring out where to put the feet in old, well-known steps, all at the same time. Cacophony reigns in the brain, and the feet go, “huh?” Dancing is not supposed to be frustrating as well as tiring within the first few minutes.

People can do other things on the day of the wedding and day after. Some people attend two weddings and are as fresh at the second as at the first. The bride and groom are preparing right up to the start and dancing to the end. Some people take their kids to a hockey game or soccer game the day after, and the kids have been celebrating right along with them. Some people garden and attend other social events the day after. We, the outsiders, nap. And we pray for restorative sleep at night.

I did a bit more than nap the day after, for I have been using my CES and AVE devices more often than usual to stimulate my energy and my thinking. They allowed me to attend a post-wedding breakfast and plant a few flowers after several hours of quiet time. But there is a fine line in pushing my brain to work better, one that if I cross will mean a bad crash, not just in energy but in the body being unable to function properly. Been there, done that. Was unpleasant. Very unpleasant.

Before the wedding, I thought I had made much progress; after, I know I am not nearly as close to “normal” as I had thought. I am still an outsider. It is discouraging, especially when people treat you like a child or avoid you, but as Miss Marple said on TV last night: “One must face things as they are.” Only then can one truly know where one is on the hill, where the summit is, and where to put the right foot next.

Share