I believe in serendipity. And the day after I finished reading Unbroken, I was in my kitchen - so fatigued but thought I would feel more accomplished if I emptied the dishwasher. So as I was in a bent position and twisted to grab a handful of silverware and standing up to reach to put them away I sneezed violently. That one sneeze put me to my knees. I wrenched my back I screamed for help because I could not get up off the floor. Just when you think it can't get worse...which has always been my fear with this illness, it does not give you a free pass to avoid other pit falls in life...and since Monday I have knew found compassion and understanding of pain. I did finish Unbroken, and I thought again, how powerful the timing of finishing a book that i described as just when you think it can't get worse it does, now here i was living out my own fear - things getting worse. I have had occasional back pain, a somatic visceral response to the swelling in my abdomen, that my body is internally irritated and my nerves react and for a few days I "walk" around with an S shaped curve - but I know what it is and normally how long it will take to go away. It also is very uncomfortable - a far cry from this pain.
The thing is I have always been conscious and extremely grateful that I do not suffer from pain. After watching my mom suffer unbearably with severe shingles, and feeling so helpless to do anything - I have seen what pain does to people and how inadequate our medicines for nerve pain currently are. This pain brought me to my knees, I could not stand up on my own and the fear that raced through my mind wondering if I had done something permanent was overwhelming. I got into my Atlas Chiropractor -whom again I feel blessed to have known for 13 years, and will NOT let anyone else touch my me - but that night I was brutally awoken drenched in sweat, burning up, nauseous, spontaneous diarrhea and could not help myself out of bed into the bathroom - My brain could not process this level of pain and I screamed for my boyfriend to either call my doctor in Phoenix or call 911. After a bit of arguing - he called my doctor in Phoenix, and again, feeling like angels walk among us she calmly talked me out of my panic, with a combination of Advil that I had on hand and homeopathics after 45 minutes I could begin to breathe again. This past week has included a trip everyday to Dr. Mike at Atlas, and again, his compassion also led me to tears - but to be quite honest almost anything could get me crying this past week. He re-took the x-rays of my head on Tuesday, changed the adjustment and slowly I have gotten out of the ravages of acute pain and can begin to know that I am lucky - this is temporary and I will get better.
All this week, the one person that kept running through my head was Louis Zamperini - how did he and his fellow prisoners of war do it...how did they get through unbearable pain without the compassion of others - without medicine, without ice packs, without a bed or a meal...how - how - how and it forced me to look even deeper into myself and wonder - what makes us? Certainly not our circumstances, but how we choose to deal with them...and sometimes its not pretty. I did something I never do...I sent out one of those Facebook messages saying, hey if you are out there and can send some healing thoughts my way - I will take it - I don't care if you pray to God, Allah, Buddha, Pixies or Fairies, the Sun or the Moon and you know what it helped - it didn't take the pain away, but to those that reached out when the pain got so I could not take it for one more second, I took a deep breathe and I thought of those that reached out in kindness and it gave me peace. I no longer felt so alone. I have thought in the past I have reached rock bottom, and I don't doubt there could be a trap door beneath me in the next 50 years if I am that lucky to live that long of a life..but at this moment in time this was my rock bottom - this Pain erupted inside of me an emotional breaking point that I have pushed so far down smoldering under the surface, and this pain was its match, unleashing a turmoil of despair I had hidden from myself.
I cried the ugliest of cries while my mom just sat and held my hand..I cried because I just couldn't take it anymore, and what I couldn't take most is another loss of freedom and the feeling that I have become nothing more than someone that needs taking care of - I cried for everything that I feel I have lost over the last 7 years - to look at my life and think really - is this where I am at...I cried for everything and everyone that I have every loved and lost, every dream that a wish didn't come true but at the end of those tears - what this pain gave me that chronic fatigue seems determined to hold out of reach I was given improvement. I remembered what it felt like to be beaten down, break down and slowly fight back - follow instructions, take care when care was given and I was given the gift to feel what it feels like to get recover. I'm not out of the woods yet, but I can walk without grabbing walls, I can sit for more than 20 minutes, I can feel the weight of pain slowly lifting.
I was taken back to Julie's blog (the Pain) when she gives her pain its own name in capitol letters, and she must decide that its time to let go of the Pain - and the ache in my heart, knowing that when I had said I was "hanging by a thread" and someone gave me the wonderful advice to "let go" that in letting go I could still be here - and when Julie let go she had to leave - that ache, that she had Pain that would not give her peace, well - there are no words, so I will not try.
this Pain scared me -dealing with a chronic illness its my huge worry of what else may come my way, and what would I do.. it leaves you feeling less equipped to deal with something that crosses your path ...- but for all that Chronic Fatigue has broken down, somewhere in the depths of me this pain and the gratitude I have that it will pass has given me unexpected strength. I was able to look in the mirror and realize that I am a fighter, and I can dig deep and I can also surrender and say I have had enough -
What pain has taught me is that in the end its all up to you. I depend on a lot of people, and much of that is a necessity, but I am acutely aware that how I learn to cope with this illness is my fight alone. The other night as I was overwhelmed with pain I grabbed a note from my little block notepad that Addison gave me for my birthday. It has purple butterflies on it and the words live, laugh and dream. Without thinking I ripped off the top page and wrote three things...the top PROMISES...1. Innocent Project 2.Blog/Write 3. LIVE underlined three times..and I realized in that moment I had chosen hope.
I knew I would be okay - because like the dreams made on a life boat in the middle of the pacific ocean, where hope should have been a mirage - it doesn't live in the certain it lives in the belief of the possible. I am still fighting out of this despair, as I am now standing to write since I can't sit - I am still fighting out of the darkness - but for once I am not beating myself down that the darkness exists -I am allowing space for the sadness, space for the regrets, space for the despair - and its sitting right next to hope and dreams.