Friday, June 8, 2012


Against my better judgement I decided to begin reading Laura Hillenbrand's praised book Unbroken.  A little background, Ms. Hillenbrand, for lack of a better term, become the poster girl for chronic fatigue and all its umbrella of naming conditions.  Its the, "look if the award winning author of Seabiscuit and now Unbroken says she's sick...then guess what folks, she's sick and so are we.  Therefore, based on the kindred spirit thing, I wanted to support such author, despite the nature of the book.  Its the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete of meager means whom survives with his pilot on a raft in the Pacific Ocean for 47 days, and just when you think that has to be the worst of it - honestly, what could be more difficult than lying in the pacific ocean with no provisions, surrounded by sharks, after being in a plane crash drifting 2,000 miles - well just wait - that was the easy part. Honestly, just when you think nothing could get worse, it does again and again and again.  And its not only Louie's story, its the stories of all around him, and while riveted and my eyes blurry from not putting it down, I had to stop and I am not sure if I can pick it up again.  I googled all the main characters, seeing what happens in the end..and then I went to bed and woke drenched in sweat unable to snap out of awful nightmares.  I lived with this story for half of a day - I have no idea how Laura Hillenbrand lived with it for seven years.  It may have left Louis eventually unbroken but i felt as if i was falling to pieces.

I have heard Ms. Hillenbrand in interviews talk about how she is inspired by those that persevere through something and that is what she is drawn to for writing, where I try and avoid the sufferings of others because I just can't bare it - and it consumes me - while I was reading Louis talks about the humiliation and breaking of one's spirit that was done in the "POW" camps in Japan, I use quotes because they did not follow any international law regarding prisoner's of war.  And there is a line, when he speaks that with out hope that is truly when you have nothing.  Even on the raft, they found ways to keep their mind sharp and plan for their futures, knowing with out such goals they would have nothing.  This thought of course resonated with me, for the past few days, I am sure the emotional toll of my grandpa passing has contributed but I have felt such a prisoner to this illness and the control it seems to take over oneself.  You no longer feel as if you are steering the ship, rather someone or something is pulling at you like the puppet strings and you are merely the marionette - That was what my nightmare was about, this illness with its bumpy unexpected unpredictable nature was my captor and I could not escape - whatever I tried that worked one day -failed the next.  I was starving because the only food that was being offered was food I could not eat.  I was trying to get medicines and they were being denied - but the overall aura was this manic  person was manipulating it all and I could never win.

When I awoke, it was 3 am - and I had to get out of bed, I was starving but couldn't bear to eat feeling too nauseous.  So I just sipped diluted orange juice.  Every time I put my head back on the pillow and would drift off I was back in my own POW camp, being manipulated - So I got up again, tried to slow my rapid breathes, grabbed my iPod and with one ear bud in tried to focus on anything else.  At first I was angry at myself for beginning the book, because I know myself, and too much sadness envelopes me - I heard on the Golf channel not a week or so back Feherty talking to Donald Trump, and he talked about his own depression and explained it to Trump as if his immune system was depleted for taking in any sadness - thus anything he saw on tv, the news, all these stories became his own narrative and he was helpless to fight them off.

However, as 3am moved closer to 5am, I was grateful - and I realized that for years I have been fighting of how to mentally handle the constraints of my health problems, and reading Louis's story I realized, its finding little bits of control   Little victories - not winning the war, just wining the moment.  
And this morning I had a blueberry.  This does not sound liberating to most, but I had been not been able to tolerate any fruits without an allergic reaction, and for some reason this morning I decided to try just one - again, small victories - and it tasted so good.  Fifteen minutes later I wasn't packing benadryl - so I will wait a few days and try one again.  I am hoping this is a sign my body is stronger, that everything around me doesn't feel like a land mind - 

And as far as Louis Zamperini - the poster man for enduring what is unbearable, for those he represents I honor you, I am humbled by you and I am blessed to walk among you.

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