I just received a call from my infectious disease doctor. “Your numbers haven’t budged. You have a lumbar puncture scheduled this week, right?”
My latest lab results just came in and despite four months of heavy-duty medication, excessive amounts of sleep, and supplemental eastern medicine treatment, the infection plaguing my body is not responding to treatment. I could hear it in her voice: my doctor suspects the infection has lodged itself in my meninges, just millimeters from my precious brain, and it has no intention of leaving without a fight.
I felt gravely disappointment, yes. But even more so, I felt incredibly vulnerable. It’s as if I’ve been lost in a dark forest and have learned to forage for mushrooms and berries, climb trees to escape predators, and entertain myself in long the hours of solitude. I felt proud of my efforts, my acquired wisdom, and the progress I’ve made toward that distant clearing. Then, out of the blue, that pride is shattered by the realization that my destination was nothing more than a shadow imitating an open field.
Though I’ve done everything I can to better my situation, I held the false presumption that I was in control. I believed that hiring the best doctors, religiously taking my prescriptions, eliminating some foods while supplementing with others, and sleeping when my body needed it would be enough. I thought that, despite the odds being stacked against me, my commitment to returning to my old self and previous health would be enough to get me there.
I recently wrote how I was coming to view disease as a message bearing good news and two comments in particular stuck with me. One commented suggested that the physicality of my ailment may instead be the manifestation of some emotional or spiritual unrest, whereas another said that in their time of illness they simply made the decision to not suffer the wrath of the disease any longer. Each of these insights speaks to the power of our minds, both in disillusioning us and in setting us free.
I need to continue the conversation with my body to learn where this disease came from and why it has latched on so tightly to my physical body–this will be an ongoing exploration for the foreseeable future, but I feel well-equipped to gently coax out the answers.
When my doctor called, my face fell in disappointment and I buried my swelling eyes in the palms of my hands. In the thirty minutes since, I have slowly come to recognize that the sadness does not serve me. It doesn’t make me better, more loving, or wise. The negativity instead creates one more obstacle that I must overcome, which is not a wise use of my limited energy.
Though I may be lost in a daunting forest with no end in sight, what I do have is a freedom-seeking spirit and a mind that has a power to grant even the most extravagant wishes. As they say, I’m not out of the forest yet, but right now I am making the decision to be well.
I am giving my body the permission to heal, recover, and thrive. I am giving my mind licence to seek positivity, cling to joy, and find peace in the midst of uncertainty. Finally, I am giving my spirit the freedom to pursue its truest nature and pull me towards whatever I am truly meant for. I am making a promise to myself, right now, that I will listen to the quiet whispering of my heart and follow through on any and all actions that will contribute to my overall well-being, not only in the midst of illness, but always.
This life is too short and too precious to spend time on things that do not bring us to life.