Home / Blog Posts / Fatigue and the Black Dog / Diary of a Chronically Exhausted Vicar. Episode 33

In which, ten days after I had started to emerge from the virus, I may actually, almost, be free.

Diary of a chronically exhausted vicar image

The sinus congestion had seemed to signal the turning of the virus, like a breaking of a fever. But it was not the turning towards recovery I had anticipated. Congested sinuses made breathing through the nose impossible, which made sleep impossible, and me, well, grumpy.

Hot tea and toddies, cold and flu tablets, saline spray, and several boxes of tissues, and the sinuses cleared and sleeping improved.
I had chicken tikka masala and daal delivered. I’m not great with curries, really, so this is about as spicy as it gets for me: it was enough.
I stayed out of the pool for a week, not wanting to be wet in the freezing cold of the late Canberra winter.
I continued to rest. A lot.
I attended the full day meeting of Presbytery, though I had good reason to stay home in bed. The being with colleagues and friends came just at the right time, like a shot of B12 just when the system was ready to use it.
I left the meeting early to go to the church and chair the tennis club AGM: I am president, after all. It was such a stunning afternoon, we held the meeting in the sunshine beside the courts, and I am sure the sun did me much good.
The roster had me leading worship for one service, at the church to which I can walk, and this, too, was helpful timing. I crawled under the blanket on the sofa that afternoon and watched all four of the netball games for the round.
I got back in the pool. I swam, I sat in the spa, I cleaned the pool and filters. I moved.

My spirits are quite restored, though a slight sniffle, and an annoying little cough linger.
My body does feel significant fatigue, still. So I must balance, as always, the impulse to ‘do’, with the need to go gently.

A conversation with one of the above-mentioned colleague-friends on Saturday has been encouraging me with the going gently this week.
The illness requires that I not do all the things. That I retreat, that I rest, that I be somewhat isolated.
I contend with some guilt around this: the feeling that I am not doing enough. I was telling Daniel that I count how many hours I have ‘worked’ each day, worried that I am not doing enough. (Technically we receive a stipend for 7 hours’ work, 6 days a week.) But we don’t ‘work’, he said. We don’t have a ‘job’: we do life with people. It’s hard to remember, but it is the nature of our calling.
And, he said, you do plenty from where you are, not simply despite your illness, but working with it. That you tell your story is encouragement to others who live similar stories. Through your writing, you make a contribution well beyond the parish boundaries of your placement. You are doing enough.
Thank you, my friend. I am grateful for that gift of encouragement and affirmation.

So I tell my story – of a grumpy, sleep deprived, virus infected vicar who managed to craft a liturgy and a sermon for which the people were grateful. Of an isolated, restful, contemplative poet who today composed prayers that people will find on my blog and pray far afield in coming weeks. Of a storyteller able to move just enough to begin rehearsing the series she will film soon, hoping to share them and encourage people to reflect deeply on the nature of our humanity. Of a flawed human being, sometimes meeting the challenges of chronic illness with a measure of resilience and hope for better days.