Turbulence, Gratitude, and the Road to Recovery

My infectious disease ACNP called yesterday and, with relief in her voice, informed me that the results were in and I do not have meningitis. Sure, the other lab tests haven’t been great, but we’ve ruled out the diagnosis that would kill me. One more small victory.

We’ll continue down the current path for the foreseeable future, inundating my body with the no-joke anti-fungal meds and monthly labs until we see some improvement. Though it is the mildest option available, the anti-fungal I’m on is rough, so I’m hoping and praying for a miraculous turnaround.

Yesterday, I got caught in a major dust storm and spent 40 minutes parked on the side of the freeway with countless other dazed drivers as 70 mph winds pummeled our cars and obscured our vision. After calling my boyfriend and mom to let them know that I was safe but stranded, I spent the next 35 minutes in a meditative state. The dust and twigs moved like ocean waves, curving and catching; my car shook as if sitting atop a splitting fault line; my heart was a drum, setting a steady beat amidst the chaos.

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The wall of dust, as seen from the sky and the dash

I sat alone with my thoughts, safely sandwiched between two other stationary vehicles. After a few minutes of frustration and fear, my thoughts effortlessly shifted to gratitude. My brain and it’s protective cushioning have succeeded in fending off the savage fungi. My health isn’t perfect, but it’s enough. I’m alive, and I intend to keep it that way.

I have a roof over my head, working air conditioning, and running water. I have a loving and supportive family who go above and beyond to ensure my happiness and well-being. I have a bookshelf full of wisdom and stories, and boxes of journals capturing my own. I have fresh, organic, locally-grown produce and a boyfriend who knows how to follow directions. I have wonderful neighbors, including some squeal-worthy cuties like Eddie Lizzard and the Nibbles the ground squirrel.

I’m beginning to step back from my emotions, choosing to respond with intention rather than react. I am reclaiming my wisdom, seeing each crest and fall of the wave as part of my unique journey. I’m starting to feel spiritually grounded again; I am starting to feel a bit more like myself.

My life is filled with so many small instances of joy, and last night’s forced period of mindfulness helped me recognize the value of those special moments and tiny gifts.

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Eddie Lizzard and Nibbles

Though I physically feel worse than I have in all of my life, I truly believe I’m on the road to recovery. If you’ve ever been on a turbulent flight, you’ve surely experienced the sigh of relief that comes when the plane stabilizes and the “fasten seat belt” light switches off. The journey hasn’t ended, but you feel confident that the worst is over.

I feel that today.

Though the chaos is raging all around me, I’m sitting comfortably in a pocket of calmness. Here, I am safe. And it’s here that I will muster up the strength to venture out and face the storm again, when the time comes.

My head is spinning, my spine is stiff, and my body aches, but I am alive. The pain is a reminder that I am so very alive, and to be alive is a privilege and a gift.

My body has carried me through life this far, fighting long and hard to protect me from the perils of this world. My emotions have helped me evade danger and grow ever-closer to those worthy of my trust. My spirit has served as my compass, guiding my actions as I continually grow and evolve.

This is all part of my journey. My current struggles will serve as stepping stones to a better and stronger version of myself. The only choice is to keep moving forward, one small step at a time.

6 thoughts on “Turbulence, Gratitude, and the Road to Recovery

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    1. Thank you for your kind words and warm wishes! Fierce is such a incredible quality, and I feel so honored that you see that in me. May we all face life with fierce conviction and unending compassion. ❤

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  1. I loved when the dust storms would kick up when I lived in Arizona (though I’m certain my cat didn’t feel the same way). There was always something very calming about them for some reason. I think it’s because I was so used to the thunderstorms in the Midwest that they just felt a little bit like home in some way. I’m not sure if that’s a great way to explain it, but it is the reality of how they felt to me.

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    1. It makes sense that you’d recognize the familiar and feel comforted, even if storms aren’t inherently comforting. Though I’ve been here all my life, I also find the storms somehow calming. I think, for me, the comfort is multifaceted but includes an appreciation of the novelty of overcast days, my childhood memories of puddles and rainbows, and the solitude that comes with standing in the rain when everyone else is indoors.

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