Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dealing with chronic illness, as I do, is (I'm discovering) a matter of perspective. HOW I think about myself, my body, this pain, whatever is malfunctioning affects how 'heavy' or how I can handle whatever it is that is present. I've spent an inordinate amount of time this past 2 years trying to convince myself I don't have some crazy Mast Cell Disease; that I'm not going to go into anaphylaxis at the drop of a hat, that I won't be riddled with pain, hives, flushing or throwing my guts up for days on end and I a NOT going to the hospital...it hadn't occurred to me, until my Life Coach pointed it out, that this energy I expend on trying to convince myself of things that are other than they are, is futile. Accepting that I have this nutty incurable disease does NOT mean that I sink into a pit of self pity and stay there, drowning in pain, sorrow and self-pity. On the contrary, accepting it means that I have a platform from which to bounce into the new 'normal' that I am currently experiencing and living. And for those of you that know me, you know that this means I will be spending time and energy trying to figure out how to live with this illness in productive, positive and passionate ways. I can't believe it's taken me almost 2 years to sort this out. But such is the way of life learning...

I was sure that IF I just told myself that I didn't have this illness that it would just go away. There are still some people (lesser now...) in my life that think if I just do this, it'll all go away. Well, I've done that. And it didn't work. I also quit my medications a few weeks ago, for just over a month because I wasn't sure they were actually helping me; because I didn't want to have to take allopathic medications to keep this body close to homeostasis; because I didn't want to rely on western prescription medications to stay alive; because I was hoping that if I just tried hard enough, I could make this go away. It didn't end well. My drugless experience was ok for the first 3 days or so. I felt freed of the prescription shackles and like I was in control of my life, for the first time in ages. However, then I started hiving just from walking outside or taking a shower or the slightest emotional strain; then it just got bad. I had a run in with some latex that while I managed on my own with epi spray and the slew of drugs I have for said such emergencies, wasn't (it turned out) enough. I continued to rebound for days, which then culminated in my blacking out, several times, over a few days. The gastrointestinal crap had begun in the midst of all of this, but took a back seat to managing breathing and blood pressure levels. However, after 5 days of continual barfing and gut pain, I ended up in hospital, severely dehydrated, asthma-like attack and hypothermic. I still ended up needing injections of epinephrine, benadryl, stemetil, and IV solutions of solu medrol (steroid), etc. I got severely told off for coming off my meds, and getting back on them was, after getting stablized, the first priority. The telling off was because...it almost killed me.

I'll admit, I felt utterly defeated. Not only did I have to go back on the medications but I had been black out FREE since July 2009...and now I had to start the clock again. It's a whole year again until I can even contemplate applying to drive again. My husband, gently and sympathetically, told me this past weekend (during our alone-time, we celebrated 10 years of marriage) that I might just want to let go of that dream to drive again and IF it comes to be that I am well enough to do so again, then we'll deal with it. He's frightened of me living in this cycle of striving for something possibly unattainable and being disappointed and feeling defeated.

It's those feelings of defeatedness, wishing for otherness and hoping this'll all go away that is unhealthy. It causes a person to spend so much time wishing for otherness that they aren't actually 'present' in the life that Is. My yoga practice has helped me to realize that this 'presence' is vital to being healthy, on all levels. Wishing for the old life that I had (that I didn't enjoy when I had it) is absurd. Not to mention pointless. So, when my Life Coach this past week, said to me, "Why can't you just ACCEPT that you've been given this illness as a way of moving into the life that you're supposed to inhabit? Why do you keep fighting what IS?" that I realized I've been going about this all ass-backwards. Accepting the diagnosis of Mast Cell Disease/Systemic Mastocytosis and Idiopathic Anaphylaxis doesn't need to be a noose around my neck or a ball and chain tied to my ankles. It's not the end of the road. It's the beginning. THIS disease, the near death experiences I've had with it, and the day to day chronic pain & discomfort I've experienced are for some reason. And, I have a responsibility to handle it. So I'm going to trust the Universe/God/Whatever you like to call it, has given this to me for a reason. And, I'm going to keep learning. Who knows, perhaps one day I'll be able to help others...but in the meantime, I'm going to keep learning.

This past winter, I took a course in Level 1 Reiki. There are lots of cynical folks out there that pa-shaw the whole notion of energy and energy healing. I'll admit that I went into this particular class with a sidewards eye, looking for the loophole and the part that didn't work. I was in for a shock. It's not until a Reiki practitioner puts their hands on, or near, you that you realize the abundance of energy constantly surging around yourself, in yourself, or others and it is nothing short of massive & magnificent...at least, this was my particular experience. The real beauty is in being able to share this gift with others, as well as yourself.

I'm no new comer to Energy work though. I think I must've read just about every manual, book and treatise on the subject. I'm obviously drawn to the subject in much the same way I am drawn to Anatomy/Physiology, Meridians, Psychology, Biochemistry, and Religious/Spiritual texts. However, it was a REAL eye and soul-opener to be actively involved in the practice of these energies. It blew my mind. Still does. Book knowledge is one thing; practical work and sharing is another. Even my cynical husband seeks out my hands now. "Honey, would you mind putting your hands on me and doing that Reiki thing?" he'll ask. A wry smile crosses my lips. He's experienced the warmth, the unconditional love and the gift that each of us possess. It feels good to share.

There are some Reiki practitioners that use crystals as part or in conjunction to their Reiki practice. I don't know enough about the subject to comment on the validity or success of it. So, this Sunday, I will be taking an introductory course in the subject with Ann Scott and her partner Craig. I don't think it is without reason that my husband decided, this past Sunday, to take us south via old Highway 69 instead of the faster open road of the 4 lane Highway 400. A "moving sale" sign pulled us. We turned the car around to go it (something we don't normally do...we'd normally keep going...) and that's where we met Ann and Craig. The potential for this to be just a regular 'moving sale' experience was there, but a little bit of discussion ensued and lo and behold, it turns out that Ann is my Reiki Master's Master. Then the subject of the class this coming Sunday came up. It's a great price because Craig is gifting his time for this. It's usually taught over 2 days, but will be compressed into one. If anyone local would like to go, they need to know by Wednesday evening so that they can copy enough manuals for everyone. Otherwise, you'll have to copy the manual afterwards from someone (like me) who's going. This sort of class would normally be about $490 for the two days. It's only $25.00.

So, serendiptious? Hmm, from what I'm learning, ALL things happen for reasons. As my Life Coach continually reinforces for me, "what better way to become a practiced Healer than to have walked through the fire of disease and illness, to emerge wiser & able to pass on your knowledge..." I have sooooooooooooooo much to learn. I think it's pretty obvious that the Universe/God is looking after me in my quest for this knowledge and experience. On days when I can't get out of bed or off the couch, it's difficult to 'see' that, but I have to believe that this has all happened for reasons beyond the scope of my intelligence.

So, the first thing I want to be upon waking every morning is grateful. And I am. A path is unfolding. New and wonderful people are coming into my life. Old and unsupportive people are falling away. And those doors keep opening. Such is the way when one is on a journey.