this is a blog post about my job, a little bit, but it's mostly about how weird my body has been in the past month or so for both job- and non-job-related reasons.

this crop of body-pain first started a couple days after my last blog post. a day or two after i rode my bike for the first time in over a year, my parents and i went out to look for a new desk chair for my room, because my current chair is the one that has given my whole family lower back issues even with lumbar support. the combination of continuially sitting down and standing up in various chairs and all the walking around caused a pretty bad flareup of lower back/pelvic/SI joint pain. i was also on my period at the time and having some pretty bad menstrual cramps, which didn't help. i took way more painkillers than i usually do during that weekend, which did very little to help, and in fact actually made things worse: unbeknownst to my family, our fridge was dying, and all the food in it was going bad.

combine the inefficacy of the painkillers driving me to take enough of them to cause GI issues and the stealth food-poisoning i was putting myself through, i spent a good few days laid up in bed from pain and TurboShitting. the latter got about 95% better after i took some pepto-bismol, slammed some benedryl, and hard-reset my body overnight, but the former mostly persisted throughout the month. i abandoned my desk and its terrible, terrible chair in favour of sitting in bed with many pillows. walking varied from "inconvenient but doable" to "agonizing". i did not leave the house for a few weeks due to the pain and pain-induced depression/other mental issues, which were exacerbated by having to be around my parents 24/7. on top of all of this, i was prepping to come back to my physically intense, outdoor summer job at the end of June, and i was concerned i wouldn't be able to make it through the summer. the previous year at work, i badly sprained my ankle during the last week and the pain or limping never quite went away, even after i was able to put my full weight on the foot. this sprain definitely made things worse for me in the past year, and i was worried the pain would relapse during work this year.

the first week of work was training week, and it went about as bad as i had expected it to pain-wise. a lot of running around, a lot of time in the sun, a lot of sitting on hard gym floors. additionally, i was, quite literally, the only ground-level worker wearing a mask. my immunocompromised boss wore a blue medical mask, and i wore an n95, and even my boss kept taking her mask off to talk to people in crowded, poorly-ventilated rooms. picture me playing huckle buckle in a stuffy gym with a bunch of maskless just-graduated teenagers and young adults, struggling to stay concious as i sprint across the gym, do a kneeslide to plant my head on my partner's knee, and then struggle to get back up and walk back to my spot in the gym. by the end of each day i was limping to the bus and curled up in pain on my bed every night.

the next two weeks were the first weeks of the program i work at actually running. 6 hour days placed at an outdoor location without a covering from the sun or a place to refill your water bottle with properly cold water, unless you wanted to waste 5 minutes texting the guy working next door to let you into his under-construction workplace. i work with kids, which means they make you run around playing the same games day in, day out, and have an exceptionally high energy level and heat tolerance, higher than me and my coworker can handle. at some point i started being in too much pain to walk the 10-15 minutes to and from the bus stop closest to my workplace, but i had to do it anyways, hamstrings and ankles and feet in agony. one day when coming home from work, my dad commented on how he saw me struggling up the three steps to our front door, and told me i "walked like a 60 year old man" which, according to everyone i talk to, isn't normal when you work in the conditions i do (i beg to differ, but whatever).

eventually, begrudglingly, i gave into the "just stretch and exercise and be productive and employed and your mental illness and chronic pain will go away uwu" infographics in my brain and started doing some leg, back, and ankle stretches before and after work. they hurt, and i did not really notice a change in my pain or energy on workdays when i did stretches vs when i didn't do them. i did unlock ONE positive from the stretches, though: i was in a brainspace where the only song i wanted to listen to was white knuckles by OK GO, and the tempo, beat, and lyrics felt like they would be perfect to stretch to -- and i was right. it's very fun choreographing stretches to fit the song, and i haven't tarnished the song with the association of being in pain (yet) so i'm hoping the habit will stick?

i expected to be in pain and too tired to do anything most of this summer, and i've been 99% right so far -- except this weekend. mysteriously, on saturday i woke up with the normal amount of pain, which amounts to "this mattress sucks but that's about it". i got up at the reasonable time of about 8:30 am and made my favourite breakfast with the normal amount of "standing for too long hurts my feet and ankles but i can still do it" pain. i was even gifted1 with my mother unexpectedly going into work for an extra-long shift that would give me times to be relaxed and do things with minimal stress throughout the day, without her constantly upending the house and trying to monitor what i'm doing all day. because her presence and her getting ready for work was stressing me out, to kill an hour before she went to work, i decided to go on a bike ride.

read that again. i went on a spur of the moment bike ride. i had the mental stamina to choose to go on a bike ride that i had not planned on doing the day before. i had the energy to get dressed before 11 am, get my bike bag together, put on sunscreen, and head on out the bike trail. i rode my bike for about 45 minutes total, maybe a little less, and i did some choreographed stretches during my break at the furthest end of the bike path. i even got to buy a 50 cent lemonade from a kid at a garage sale on my way back. and guess what else? when i got back from my bike ride, i took a shower -- a shower directly after my bike ride! and i didn't feel like passing out during it! usually if i go on a bike ride as my first task of the day, i am laid out flat when i get home for the rest of the day, or at least a few hours. i am certainly at least in some pain usually, but yesterday i just... wasn't. or i was, but it wasn't enough to impede anything i wanted to do, i could just. do it. i haven't been able to "just do" things and be ok afterwards for years.

when i went to bed on saturday, i was terrified i'd be paying for my relatively-painless day in the morning. sunday (today) i woke up late, but again, i wasn't in any sort of agony, just typical morning soreness. my mother was home and doing her usual tearing apart of the house just to put it back together, so i was more stressed than i was the day before, but i wasn't in agony, just normal sore-pain. because of work and school, my old shoes were basically done for, so we decided to go out and get new shoes, plus orthotics to hopefully relieve some of the pain in my feet/ankles/legs/back during work. since my parents are getting the basement renovated, we went to a couple furniture stores after getting our shoes. i noticed that i was walking awkwardly, likely due to wearing old sandals rather than shoes, but i wasn't in pain then either, just sort of easily winded from all the getting up and sitting down.

i know i keep saying this, but i need to stress it: not being in pain during even mild physical exertion has been unheard of for me for years, even pre-pandemic or pre-ankle-spraining. i'm sedentary, but even that doesn't explain it all, because my summer job is essentially "work out every weekday for two months" and i either walked, took the bus (which required me to walk at least 10 minutes to/from the bus), or biked to work, and yet my physical ability almost exclusively declined during the summer. the previous school year involved a lot of walking, working with wood, standing, and was a return to my nearly one hour bus commute to campus, so it's not like i was exclusively sitting on my ass for school either. lack of activity might explain a small portion of my inability to keep up physically, but it can't explain the limping, or the pain that can't be soothed by painkillers, or the fact that extended periods of physical activity usually correlates with a decline in my physical health, not an improvement.

maybe the instagram infographics were onto something with this stretching thing? we'll see if this is just a fluke and we return to baseline pain during the next workweek.

1: a gift for me, not for her. my mother works at a hospital that has been bleeding staff dry over the pandemic for many reasons, including but not limited to our province's relaxing/discarding of the pandemic restrictions and gutting of protections for various public sector workers. i have mixed feelings about my mother's work situation, because on a societal level it sucks supreme ass, but on a personal level it's keeping her out of the house more often which is a balm for my mental health, since her even being in the same building as me severely limits how comfortable i feel to do things around the house due to her surveillance and inability to leave me alone. long story short she has very bad attachment issues to me and is just miserable to be around.