Time rages like a river, rushing by, offering momentary glimpses into the truth of reality. The days pass by in steady succession, marching towards some yet-unknown destination.
I have spent the last several years coasting along the ebb and flow of some evasive ailment. I’ve spent portions of the journey violently kicking and other stretches floating on my back, waiting for an answer.
I’ve learned, across time, that flailing about does no good. I’ve discovered, slowly and in bits, that sustainable action is more valuable than speed. I’ve been reminded, after each burst of enthusiastic hope, that the important things often take time.
With reluctance, exhaustion has slowly given way to surrender. While it happened gradually, I realized in an instant: I’m no longer fighting. Stranded in the middle of an expansive body of water, I’m not swimming nor treading water. Rather, I’m bobbing along while observing my surroundings, making tiny adjustments that may eventually move me closer to the shore.
Two steps forward and one step back is still progress. At my recent appointment, the 80-year-old pulmonologist who originally diagnosed me with valley fever in 2015 leaned towards me to say, “Your poor body is a mess, and it may be for the rest of your life, but you look good. It hasn’t killed you yet.” He’s right. My body has been limited, but my potential has not be stymied.
I’ve been feeling better. Nearly a month ago, I adopted a modified paleo-autoimmune protocol diet to help kickstart my sluggish thyroid and non-functional adrenals, so they can naturally eliminate the heavy metal deposits in my legs. I’m starting and ending each day with high-quality oil to regulate spikes in blood sugar. I’ve eliminated grains, legumes, dairy and sugar, while drastically boosting protein consumption. While my muscles still fatigue walking up a flight of stairs or holding my toothbrush up for two minutes, my energy level is more consistent across the course of each day.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting and journalism, savoring the clear-headedness and ability to stay awake past seven o’clock. I feel like a new person, yet I’ve also accepted that the moment is just that–a fleeting experience, which may or may not last.
I am coming to realize that the challenges make me who I am, shaping me as a potter shapes a clay vessel. Today is not the final product. My life and self are evolving, day by day. I am returning to the place where I can view adversity not as a roadblock, but instead my path. This is my journey. Perhaps, someday, it’s meaning will come to light. One day, my life’s purpose will become obvious, and each lesson learned may contribute to that larger picture.
But, for now, the best thing I can do is continue to calmly float along, observe the world around me, and make those low-effort changes that will positively alter my trajectory.
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Illness is hard. Recovery takes time.
This post is so relatable to me. Even though I have a different thing, that has never been addressed at the source, that has no fix. I’ve improved so much (luck), and the only thing I’ve ‘done’ is take a slow, patient approach (which isn’t why I’ve improved, of course, but it made me happier).
Your words are so, so true. Yesterday, my boyfriend made a joke about how over the last six years I’ve gone from being an anal-retentive perfectionist with workaholic tendencies (not untrue!) to currently not caring about much at all. I think that has to do with the slow pace and patience that’s been forced upon me and, I suspect, you too. When you’ve got a limited number of waking hours and amount of energy, you have no choice but to set and then stick to priorities. The house is cluttered and I have no social life, but I work just enough to pay the bills, get adequate sleep, prepare healthy meals and share dinner with my boyfriend every night. Six years ago, I would be absolutely appalled by my current lack of “productivity,” but today I consider the prioritization of my own well-being (above all else) the biggest win of all.
Slow and steady wins the race. Keep at it! ❤
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