The Article That Almost Wasn’t

I find myself in a state of virtual complete overwhelm. My mind feels anxious and I am dancing along the edge of anger. I am tired and agitated. How am I going to focus on writing this article that I’ve left to the last minute?

I have had this deep barking cough for 10 days now. I cough more at night which prevents me from sleeping. I am tired, my head is pounding and my lungs are burning in my chest.

Excuses, excuses. The article deadline was yesterday.

My garden shed is half finished. It has been neglected since the sink overflowed and flooded our kitchen and under the laminate floor. The laminate has now been torn up, because once water gets under it, there is no other option.

The renovation crew discovered asbestos under the third layer of kitchen linoleum and I am told that is going to push the total bill in excess of $10,000. I guess it is a good thing I have insurance.

There have been fans and dehumidifiers running around the clock for the past several days: the white noise only adds to my agitation. We need to essentially pack up the main floor of our house and empty our kitchen as it’s all getting stripped to the walls.

Heck of a way to get a spring cleaning…

And I still have this article to write.

I had wanted to write about how my life has changed with my nine month old baby girl. The truth is that while I adore her, she has added to the overwhelm.

Suddenly I am responsible in a way I have never experienced before. I want to be present for her, to be with her and to nurture her as she grows. I cannot allow my stress to affect her.

My wife is also feeling the stress, and our relationship is on a sharp and jagged edge. We have been here before, but it is more critical now that there is a baby in between.

I had planned to write about what a wondrous experience it is to watch a baby grow, to listen to her giggle, to see her engage and explore her world.

She is starting to crawl, not a true four-legged crawl, but a reaching sprawl with a roll and a sit that in combination can result in significant distance travelled. She is pulling herself up on the edge of the couch and soon she will be walking. The months are moving so quickly.

Time does not feel linear—it is accelerating. As each moment passes, the next comes even quicker. I struggle to maintain control of the present, but I blink and another day has passed.

I find myself driving too fast on an icy road, but how do I slow down time?

I have a growing appreciation of how chronic disease robs the health of the patients I work with in the hospital. The stress and fatigue make healthy choices less desirable. My body wants sugar, simple comfort foods. I snack instead of cook. I know my body needs good nutrition to heal.

It is not just my own health I have to worry about. My baby is wanting to sample what I am eating and it is critical that I model healthy eating habits for her as she grows beyond the breast.

I make it my highest priority to be present for the time I spend with her. While I am holding her, or watching her play, I force the stress out of my mind. I need to be here for her.

I do manage to get outside for a walk every day (the dog would go crazy otherwise). I strap the baby on my back and the family gets out for our daily walk in the forest. This is another pattern I want to establish with my baby.

Patterns, it all comes down to our patterns. Right now, sickness and unexpected renovations have thrown my normal patterns into chaos.

Perhaps now that I have sat down and contemplated my situation, I will be able to regain some control. The truth is my cold is slowly improving and I am starting to get some sleep at night. Soon the floors will be done and we can get back into routine.

One of those routines needs to be sitting down to write on a regular basis, so I won’t find myself caught behind when my next article is due.


Chris Semrick, B.Sc, RRT, CRE is a Registered Respiratory Therapist, Certified Respiratory Educator and a Local Food Activist.