“You can do anything for 5 minutes.”
I can’t tell you the number of times my mom has said this to me (it’s a lot).
I also can’t tell you the number of times I didn’t believe it (it’s a lot).
But then again, my mom said it, so, you know where this is going, she was right.
At my very worst, I couldn’t go anywhere. I have the misfortune of having the view of my bedroom ceiling imprinted on my brain. I know a lot of you reading this know exactly what that feels like. (For those that don’t: It sucks. Major.)
When I improved to the point where leaving the house once again became possible, I quickly found that “leaving the house” and “going somewhere” were 2 different things.
Sure, I could transport myself from the house to the car.
But could I get out of the car once we got somewhere?
I’ve mentioned/alluded to my wheelchair use before, and for a while it was super helpful. It’s apparently much easier to push somebody already in a wheeled apartaus somewhere than it is to try to pick them up and drag them around.
Or so I’ve heard.
But even using a wheelchair doesn’t make things easy.
When you are a Chronic, everything feels hard. Things that shouldn’t feel hard seem to feel even harder, probably because of the additional mental/emotional weight you add to the situation when you tell yourself, “Oh my gosh why is this so hard when it shouldn’t be???”
Getting out of the car is one of those things.
I know everyone thinks their mom is the best, and I’m no exception. My mom is the best mom for me. You’d probably think she was nuts if she was your mom, but I happen to think she’s pretty fantastic.
Case in point: I would probably still be trying to figure out how to will myself out of the passenger seat if she hadn’t come up with our 5 minute mantra.
“You can do anything for 5 minutes.”
I’ve come to learn that it’s kind of true.
Things that can be accomplished in 5 minutes:
~You can rent a movie. We used to go to Hollywood Video every other day for like, 6 straight months, because that’s all the “outing” I could handle. Now there’s Redbox, but it’s more or less the same principal.
~You can pick up the library books you put on hold. My local library lets you put books on hold online, and when you go to pick them up, they are on a specially marked shelf right by the check out near the door.
~You can buy a bag of gluten-free cookies at the organic food store. *Nic Note: Sometimes lines make grocery store stops last longer than 5 minutes, so going at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday is probably your best bet. For some weird reason, very few people shop at this time.
~You can look through the $1 section at Target. At least in the MD/DC/VA area, the $1 section is right by the entrance and the cash registers, making it a convenient outing. You might come home with stickers and #2 pencils with Hello Kitty on them that you may never use, but 5 minutes is 5 minutes.
~You can find the host of the party, say “Look, I’m here!” hug them, turn around and leave.
I’m sure there are a zillion other things we did in 5 minute increments. It’s kind of amazing what you can do in 5 minutes.
Recently, I’ve been doing better overall, and not fainting has been a huge win for me in the health department. However, fainting isn’t my only issue, so while it’s super nice to be conscious, it doesn’t mean that I’m all better. But I have definitely improved.
Now I get to do things in 15-minute increments.
In the past few days, I’ve had a couple of social engagements (does that make me sound fancy? I like it better than “hang outs” or whatever). Doing social stuff has a unique difficulty when you are Chronic. You have to plan in advance, knowing that you have absolutely no idea if in a week you are going to have enough energy in the evening on a weekend to go do something.
(Of course, I always like to think that the energy fairies will magically appear and give me additional energy just because I made plans, but sadly, either energy fairies really are a myth or they just don’t like me very much.)
Thankfully, I can do anything for 15 minutes.
15 minutes is long enough to go into a restaurant, go to the bathroom, find out your friend’s summer schedule, find out about your other friend’s kid, re-meet someone you’ve only vaguely met before, wait for your other friend who is running late, hug everyone, explain you can’t stay longer, and then hightail it out of there.
It helps that my friends talk fast.
Would I have loved to stay longer?
Oh my gosh, absolutely. If I had my way, they’d be kicking me out at closing time.
This is not about that at all.
This is more about the fact that the tremors start on my insides and if I have ignored them long enough that they start to be visible on my outsides (warning sign: it takes effort to screw the top back on my water bottle), I have a big problem.
I try not to have big problems.
So I stay for 15 minutes. A lot can happen in 15 minutes, and while it might seem like nothing to most people, I am jumping up and down on my insides because you know what?
15 minutes is 3 times as long as 5 minutes.
Yep, I am moving on up.