I’m settling in now with the lithium, and the worst of the side effects are no longer– except for the “fine tremor.”
All “fine” means is that the tremors are not gross, that is, seizure-like jerks and twitches visible to the naked eye. But it’s all relative– ask me to take a picture without image stabilization, or carry a martini glass or three as I did in my waitressing days, and the “fineness” disappears– it’s an obvious tremor, a blur on the image, a slosh of the cocktail, a dropped plate or a favorite mug, broken.
I used to not wash dishes because as the cook and grocery shopper, I felt it wasn’t my job. Now, I’m a hazard– wet dishes and trembling hands, fingers unsure of their grip are death on dishes.
The tremor is all over– in my legs as I descend the stairs, in my arms as I carry groceries up and down the stairs. It gets worse the less I eat, or the more caffeine I drink. (Amazingly, it gets better the more alcohol I drink. But I’m trying to do without the drink, mostly, for reasons that are their own story.) In the mornings when it’s time for more meds, if I don’t leave my feet flat on the floor while I sit at the table, I tremble from hip to toe– my knee waves backs and forth, in time to a jig only the tremor hears.
As anyone might, I did not welcome this fine tremor. We already have a family palsy of hand and voice, which gets worse with age. It’s a telltale quaver, becoming visible and audible, betraying anger or shame, nervousness, fear, guilt or anxiety. Why would I welcome more, representing the eradication of my poker face, the erosion of any solid ground to stand on, defend from, attack from?
Instead, I’m learning to live with my tremor, to think that it’s fine.
I’m a terrible liar– if my voice betrays me, I must simply tell the truth.
If my knees wobble, then I must try for better balance, slow down from the full speed ahead of the past, and hold the railing more firmly. It doesn’t stop me from going where I want, but it stops me from falling on my face and hurting along the way.
If my hands tremble and my arms wobble, then I must learn to do only what I can handle, even if it means taking more loads over a longer time– or asking for help.
And if I shake like a birch leaf at the end of a branch, then I must learn to stop ignoring my body, a fragile bough that can only support its leaves if the leaves soak up the sun and the roots soak up the rain. Without the sun and the rain, the bough will break, not bend.
It’s fine that I tremble, because trembling is different from falling, is different from breaking.