Catching the Heart Up with the Body

When I was 24, first diagnosed with Lyme, suddenly living in suburbia with my parents and swallowing down more pills each day than I had taken my entire life, I couldn’t let myself fully know how sick I was. If I did, I wouldn’t have been able to keep putting one foot in front of the other. So I told myself, daily, that I would be back to life on my terms in a few months, six at the most.

Nine months later, I had a P.I.C.C. line in and was on I.V. antibiotics. I ate breakfast and dinner with my drip going. Still, I told myself that I would be able to pick up where I had left off from my life in NYC. Ok, I had told myself a year in to living back in suburbia, I’ll be back to life in six more months, in another year, tops.

But it takes time to get as sick as I did and it would take another decade to get fully better. Over the years, I spent most of my time and money and energy trying to get better. Over the years, I slowly stripped away symptoms as I unraveled the layers of illnesses. I lived a half-life out of necessity. My health, or my approximation of it, was in delicate balance. If I pushed too hard in any aspect of my life, my health would collapse. I felt like a house of cards and the slightest thing outside of my routine—a missed meal, a forgotten hat and scarf on a cold day, a too late night, relationship strife—would knock me down.

I spent a lot of time in bed, waiting. I held myself back from living as hard as I wanted to, telling myself that once I was healthy, I’d have everything.

During that decade of living small and contained, I told myself that I would have everything once I had my health. I told myself that it wouldn’t matter how little I had done over the years; once I had my health I could approach everything in life with the vigor I wanted to. Now I am where I once only dreamed of being and feeling. And though life without illness is so much better and easier and thought I am doing everything that I want to be doing, I am surprised to find that the underlying emotions for me are a dull sadness and defeat. It is because, only now, in being healthy, do I understand just how very sick I was and can I know just how much I missed out on.

I am surprised to find that I am not just living in a state of elated joy, which is what I thought that I’d be doing once I got better. I’d have everything, remember? Of course I have to work through the dull sadness of loss. I fill the time that used to be filled with taking care of myself with meditation and long walks and fostering friendships. I am taking it easy and gently this winter and making sure to cook up soups and stews and ciders that are rich in color, scent and taste.

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Recovering Sleep

 

I slept so well last night that I woke early and charged for my day. I generally sleep really well–although for about a decade in the worst years of being sick, I couldn’t sleep. All day, I’d be exhausted and nearly delirious and when it was finally time to go to bed, I’d suddenly be awake. At the time, I didn’t even know that there was adrenal fatigue or that my disturbed sleep was indicative of it.

What shifted my sleep from being a very few hours of tossing and turning into deep, refreshing sleep was Reiki–and then mediation. For years, my doctors had tried to give me things to begin sleeping well again, because (as I wrote about here) you can’t heal without sleep, but nothing–not the adrenal support or herbals that were supposed to make me sleepy, cutting out caffeine and chocolate or taking sleeping pills–helped. And then, following my first Reiki session, I went straight home and fell (at four in the afternoon) into a deep, deep sleep. I slept that day straight through the afternoon and the night and woke up the next morning feeling, for the first time in well over a decade, refreshed and ready for my day.

Without sleep, it’s really hard to function well (and the detrimental effects have been well documented. you can go here, here, here or here, just for starters), to recover from sports or illness and depression creeps in. After that first Reiki session, I continued sleeping well but after each session, I’d sleep incredibly deeply for a few days. The same thing yesterday. I had a Reiki session, cleared a bunch things that have been holding me back, came home and slept like pro. I feel fantastic today.