To suddenly, or over years, to learn that your old self will never return is heartbreaking. Accidents, trauma, Covid, even aging, can destroy a person’s self-identity. Rabbit, Run by Updike is a lament for the long-absent glory days of high school.
I went from high-energy to physical and mental feebleness. No vitality, no motivation, no desire to do or accomplish a thing. Retirement was planned as a writer’s heaven: time to write and market my books without distractions from students, colleagues, or horrifying bosses. Fatigue terminated all these dreams.
I journeyed a maze of psychiatric then biological competent and incompetent doctors to find a cure. As I researched online support groups, I realized my loss was not as devastating as others. How could I look for sympathy or advice when others had lost limbs or never had them? I wondered which was worse – a physical or a mental loss? After a few years, I fell and became crippled for a year. Yes, a physical disability is damning. Worse than my lack of energy – almost.
After nearly six years, I’ve abandoned my search for a cure. I had eventually deduced the cause of my fatigue: ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic. It destroyed 90% of my energy by interfering with my cellular RNA production. I have finally accepted this and remain grateful it happened when I was 66, and not earlier.
I read cell stem surgery may cure this problem, but it is too expensive and I am too old.
At 60, my energy levels were like a 30-year-old’s. Of course, at 20 and 30, my intense energy caused problems. Living overseas distracted much of the excessive energy into learning about new cultures and trying to adapt. But to retire, with books still to write and market, then be destroyed by depleted energy and motivation, has nearly killed me.
Psychiatry offered an array of new antidepressants. Along with their horrifying side-effects. Consultation with a gerontologist merely produced another antidepressant shoved across his desk – without any blood work or medical exam.
Eventually, low iron was risen, health supplements added, a caffeine pill each morning (being a non-coffee drinker), and a desire for ADH Ritalin. However, the leg injury and another added ailment disliked antidepressants and Ritalin. Nearly a year later, an acupuncturist correctly diagnosed and treated the injured muscle. His helped aided the other problem that is still unresolved, but happily, I can walk again! A bit.
At 72, I certainly look my age when walking, despite my facelift thankfully obliterating life’s toll. I stopped dying my turning-grey hair blond after 25+ years. People seem kinder now that they can see how old I am by white hair and impaired gait.
This 10% energy functioning is unpleasant. I moved my desk, hoping Fen Chi will encourage writing. I’ve done some Swedish death-cleaning to clear my living space, giving away paintings and other distractions from my travels. Now I must apply a routine. When younger, ‘routine’ implied lack of creativity, so I avoided it. Nowadays, I realize it is a lifeboat.
One of Islam’s teaching, which I was exposed to for 15 years while working in the Gulf (Middle East), is acceptance of destiny. Fighting destiny while younger with high energy had propelled me from lower class slavery to international-teacher-traveler. But nowadays this constant fighting with my own body has ricocheted me into a pleasant but unbearable limbo. Fen Chi isn’t working, and neither am I. Hopefully, spring will leap into my heart from outdoors and allow me to fall into a healthy routine so my old age and its attending wisdom can find its voice.