I realised this morning that I no longer really remember what "normal" (that is, pre all this malarkey starting) feels like. It was not a happy realisation.
I didn't have a great night last night, and my back feels like I'm carrying a roll of carpet round my shoulders. As I was trying to ease my right shoulder in the shower, I was thinking how different it felt to yesterday, when I felt well.
As I thought the thought, I realised that there was something not right about that statement. I went back over it and analysed it a bit, and then it hit me. When I expressed the words 'I felt well', I hadn't used the term 'well' in the sense of 'relatively well'. Up to that very point, when I thought of myself as feeling "well", I always (used to) think "relatively well, compared to other days since this started in 2021. But not well compared to how I used to feel before it all started".
Suddenly, 20 months in (23 if we go back to the start of the heart stuff), and my reference point of what is "normal" has changed. Just like that.
I thought about this some more.
I was still thinking in relative terms a week or two ago. I'm pretty sure that last week, 5 days ago, staying in a rented cottage near my parents for 2 nights when I was thinking about whether I slept OK, I was still thinking relatively.
I tried to remember what it was like before all of this. I tried to remember waking up, having slept through the night. I tried to recall what it is like to wake up and not feel any pain/discomfort. I tried to remember what it was like to just get on with whatever, without having to deal with whatever.
I could no longer remember what it was like.
I felt the loss of this quite sharply, as if I'd given up on getting back to "normal". I was tempted to slide into a puddle of self-pity, exacerbated by the ache in my side. I used distraction techniques, and I gave myself a metaphorical slap. I tried to concentrate on how lucky I am rather than how unlucky I am.
The ache in my side was most likely caused by me not wearing a sleep bra yesterday. So (a) that serves me right, and (b) it looks like the sleep bras are making a difference.