Happy New Year

I think it was Garfield that said “January is the armpit of months”. I can’t disagree either. . .

January, in Ireland at least, is the coldest month. It’s when we are most likely to get winter weather after mild Decembers.  It’s dark and the darkness is made even worse because there are no longer any fairly lights sparkling in the trees, no frenetic pre-Christmas energy.  The holidays have come and gone and December’s paycheque has been long ago spent.  January brings credit card bills, resolutions that are broken as quickly as they have been made and depression.  The hope of New Year’s Eve is quickly dissipated by the fact that no matter how carefully you managed your money, you’re broke already and there are still three weeks until payday.

In short, January is awful.

Especially this January. Some of the deaths – Terry Wogan, Black, Glenn Frey – didn’t affect me deeply, as I didn’t have a very close relationship with their work.  Others, such as David Bowie and Alan Rickman, shook me to my core.  No matter your relationship with them however, January 2016 has been a black month for the music and acting worlds.

Just another reason why January is awful.

About a week into January, I saw a meme going around Facebook, that January is fired and 2016 is restarting in February. I chuckled and shared it, because even then I was already feeling the January blues creeping on me but didn’t really think any more on it.  Until a few days ago.  The 27th of January was the last straw.

You see, with Gar out of work things have been pretty stressful. Add into that mix college and an insanely busy work year, well, you get the idea.  I started feeling rough in November.  Not anything dramatic, just a bit tired, a bit slow.  Waking up in the mornings congested.  As the month drew on, it got worse.

And then it got better.

And then it got worse again.

And then – it kind of stayed the same for a while.

And then it got REALLY bad.

By the second week of January, even I had to admit it was something more than a lingering cold. Crossing from one end of the apartment to the other left me breathless.  I would wake up out a restless sleep because I couldn’t breathe.  I would sleep all day propped up on the couch, then drag myself to bed where I would toss and turn all night, torn between vivid, hallucinogenic dreams and suffocating wakefulness. I was only a little congested, only coughing a little, but when I coughed, it spattered my hand with little sprays of red.  One exhausted Saturday, my fever peaked at 39.6* (103.3).  And behind all of it was the pain.  My chest hurt.  Breathing hurt.  Not breathing hurt.  Sitting up, laying down, at my desk, on the couch, it always hurt.  My own heartbeat beat a slow, steady rhythm ache.  I confessed to a friend that I was in pain, and ever since that conversation have carried aspirin in my bag, because I was just waiting for the heart attack to hit.

I’m 33.

The constant pain, the exhaustion and the sense of helplessness started to lead my thoughts to very dark places. I was becoming more and more confused at work and the vertigo was pulling me off balance continuously.  Through it all, I tried to hide how unwell I was, to joke away the strain on my face or the moments of confusion.  Laugh whenever co-workers expressed concern at how pale I was, or complained about how high I had the heat in the office (I felt cold from the inside, so it didn’t help, but I was desperate).  Daily life boiled down to one goal: get to the 27th.  Payday.  My treat to myself this payday was to get help.

Finally it arrived and I went to my GP. She took one look at me, put on a face mask.  Took my blood pressure, listened to my heart, then to my lungs.  Asked me several questions, then listened to my lungs again, asked me to breathe deeply, then to cough, then to cough harder.  Stepped back, said in a frankly accusing manner that listening to my lungs was like listening to dubstep.  She suspected pneumonia and I was sent on my way for a chest x-ray, clutching a prescription for Clarithromycin and a Ventolin inhaler.

The x-ray confirmed pneumonia. That was it.

January is officially fired, and today is New Year’s Day for me. And it’s already off to a much better start.  Gar has a temporary job (here’s to many more until the right permanent position comes along!), Deadpool is coming out in 11 days and most of all, I’m feeling better.  For the first time since nearly Christmas, I’ve gone hours at a time without pain.  I can breathe and if I feel breathless, I have the inhaler.  I’m still lacking in both strength and energy, but I’m getting better every day.  I’m looking forward eagerly to picking up yoga again, to free weights and eventually, to running again.

2016 starts in feb

I’m starting 2016 over. January has been dismissed, erased from my browser history, so to speak.  This cold, wet, wild and very, very windy Monday is my new beginning and I’m going to power ahead.

Happy New Year’s Day everyone. I hope your 2016 only gets better from here.

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