Three Good Hours - A Public Announcement

I woke just now with a start and a sharp intake of breath. After a moment or two I began the urgent shuffle onto my commode to let my wee slowly find its way out. But I started thinking about what I was going to write in this post before my bum even hit the padded, plastic seat. After five minutes of writing it in my mind I gave in and picked up the computer.

One of the unanticipated effects of my new status as very slow pisser is that my long drawn out wee gives me time for thought, and, as it turns out, time to write blog posts too.

The moment I woke, I had an epiphany, though I’m not sure you can really call it that since many other people have had the same thought already. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that at 2am my mind at last caught up with what many other people have been saying for months.

What I woke up thinking about was an idea I’d read several hours before, which in turn reminded me of something Fran said several weeks ago. Both of these things reminded me of Leftwing Idiot’s meticulous care with my schedule at the moment, and his palpable frustration when I try and squeeze extra stuff in.

This is the story. Several hours ago as I scrolled on social media one meme stood out. It read:

“My Doctor recently asked me how many usable hours I have in a day. She told me a healthy person has an average around 10…”

Several weeks ago, talking about my energy, Fran said: “Anything past 1pm is a bonus” and I was struck at the time by the truth of this. Also, Leftwing Idiot frequently talks about my “three good hours a day”.

And that was my epiphany: when I woke up at 2am this morning I immediately thought ‘Oh, that’s it! I only have three usable hours a day’.

To say I’m slow on the uptake in this regard is a substantial understatement.

The rest of the meme drew attention to how ridiculous it is to try and fit a full ten hours of activity into fewer hours than that. It’s just as ridiculous as for a healthy person to try and fit twenty five hours of activity into their ten.

Just for the record I’m using ‘healthy’ deliberately, and that’s not because ‘healthy’ is the opposite of ‘disabled’ which it most definitely is not (non-disabled is). It’s because at the moment I’m unwell as well as disabled – very different things to my mind.

For months I’ve been weighing up all sorts of weird time trade-offs:

Answer emails or write a blog post?
Attend a meeting or complete the payroll?
Have a drink with a friend or play with my niece?

Choices like these aren’t always easy to make, and there can be many hundreds of them a day. I’ve been having a feeling of constantly falling short, and that’s been taking an emotional toll. So the aim of this post is to take the first step in coming to terms with this situation.

A hand drawn image in black on a pink card. On the left a giant hand holds a flag with 3 hrs written on it and a small amount of boxes representing a manageable amount of work. On the right is a precarious mountain of boxes with work written on them. Underneath in bubble writing text reads: A Public Announcement. This image illustrates Jess Thom's current energy levels

(In the spirit of this post and of not wasting my good hours, this drawing comes with lots of involuntary marks, which I’ve left in rather than starting again each time in pursuit of the perfect image.)

This is a public acknowledgement that at the moment I have three usable hours only.

• If I’m slow to respond to an email, haven’t called in a while or don’t make it out to a party, this is why.
• If you need something urgently please contact Leftwing Idiot or Will the Cartoon Lion
• I usually take a nap between 2-4pm so please avoid calling me then
• Please keep asking me to do things. I’ll decide whether they’re manageable or not, but if they’re not please be understanding

I’m hopeful my hours will increase in the future, but at the moment we’re all adjusting to working with what we’ve got. I’m trying to be careful with how I use my good hours, and I’m lucky to have a team who are often more insightful and in tune with my body than I am.

The hardest aspect of this for me is managing my own frustration. I want to be working, taking on new projects and making art. Knowing that other people have spent their time and energy emailing me and I haven’t been able to respond yet feels horrible. But I also know that I wouldn’t hold it against anyone else in the same position.

So for now I’m going to focus on the best ways to use my three good hours. I’m going to listen to those around me, and keep delegating. And I’m going to look after myself so as to make bonus hours a more realistic possibility

In keeping with this last promise to myself I’d better go back to bed, now that my wee is safely in the commode, and my thoughts safely on the page.

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