After updating you on my adventures in Iceland, my body started giving me some loud, painful and annoying messages that required my attention.
They were the kind of messages that made me seek out assistance to get out of bed in the morning, carry items that I no longer had the strength to hold, and open and close almost everything.
My plans for the summer, as well as some future plans (like a retreat I wanted to offer next year!), had to be scrapped because appointments to specialists, naturopaths and other healthcare professionals needed to be my focus. Plus, I was so exhausted some days that waking up and walking down to my couch, where I promptly fell back to sleep, was all that I could manage.
Luckily, I received a diagnosis fairly quickly, but the timing didn't help me feel any less scared, shocked or overwhelmed.
I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
You can read more about my diagnosis and how I’m dealing with it here and here.
There have been several moments of absolute panic, and a preoccupation with what'll go wrong next. When I think I've become an expert on what works for me, things change within an hour and I'm back to being a newbie trying to figure everything out again.
It's also been frustrating trying to navigate doctors, insurance, schedules and people who mean well but aren't always very helpful. Especially, navigating the fine line between leading and being led. (I prefer leading myself!)
Within a few days of being diagnosed, and while still in shock, I went into attack mode. I was convinced that if I did everything "right" that I'd get better, and I'd look back on this stage in my life as a mere inconvenience.
It worked for a little while. I had more energy... I no longer needed a three-hour nap during the middle of the day. I convinced myself that I was heading into remission but I was completely ignoring the small little signs and signals that my body kept sending out.
I wasn't counting on my body fighting back.
And it did. (You would too if you had someone trying to battle you!)
My RA became very aggressive and I struggled to recognize who I was if my body didn't work the way that it had in the past. I saw my body as an enemy and I couldn't understand why it hated me.
You see, I preferred my body to act in certain ways that I had become used to. I wanted to remain comfortable with what I knew.
Once diagnosed, I couldn't stop myself wanting to change what had happened (by focusing too much on the past) and trying to course correct because I was worried about my future.
Eventually, I realized that I was doing more harm to myself looking backwards and forwards instead of paying attention to what was right in front of me, at any given moment.
I was missing my son flex his empathy muscles because I was too focused on how I must be disappointing him because he now had to deal with a "sick" mom and wasn't enjoying the summer adventures we had planned.
I was ignoring my husband's willingness to help me with EVERYTHING because I didn't want to be a burden.
My judgements prevented me from receiving their gifts and noticing what they were both capable of.
Thank goodness they helped me snap out of it!
Having a wonderful partner, family and friends who reminded me of my ability to deal with what I'd been given made a world of difference.
They weren't telling me anything that I didn't already know about myself. However, their reminders helped me move away from being stuck and accepting what was going on.
It still takes work to focus on what is going on right in front of me some days. And to pay attention to both the good and the not so great. Ignoring one or the other will only cause you more distress.
Slowly but surely, I am beginning to feel better in some ways.
So, I'm writing today to obviously provide you with an update as to where I've been and why my services will continue to be unavailable for a while longer. You'll be the first to know when that changes.
I also wanted to share a passage from a book full of wisdom that a friend gave to me.
The book is called Turning Suffering Inside Out: A Zen Approach to Living with Physical and Emotional Pain by Darlene Cohen. (I highly recommend it!)
Perhaps it might help you too:
"If we have lost the relative ease and mobility of the past, it may be hard to make a real commitment to this new life. There's a tendency to deny these new circumstances and wait for our old life to return. But in every moment, every day, every week we spend lamenting our lost life, we also have an opportunity to shift all our interest and creativity to this new life. Perhaps even more than in the past, our lives demand everything we can bring to them. The purpose of our lives may not be to produce something wonderful or to become rich or famous or renowned for wisdom; the purpose may just be to express our own sincerity doing completely whatever it is that we do, immersing ourselves in the situation in which we find ourselves. When our way is very hard, we have an opportunity to use every flicker of our imaginative fire. This attitude gives us a tremendous sense of freedom and creativity. We feel as if we can imbue any situation with the richness of our own poetry."
May you have hope, joy, freedom and love in your life as you shift into this New Year!