No News Isn’t Always Good News

Sometimes, no news is just no news.

In this case, that’s about right. Things have been progressing in a direction I don’t like. I wouldn’t really call this news – it just is.

It is also extraordinarily frustrating. Ontop of the weakness and discomfort I was already feeling, there are now more (most) foods that my body has decided it doesn’t want me to have, and my reactions are getting stronger. More rashing, flushing, dizziness, ear ringing, ear popping, nausea, bowel irregularities. Eating is no longer a comfort. Quite the opposite. Eating is painful and exacerbating. Stress is normally the time of Ben and Jerry’s trials, but now I’d rather just have water. Water doesn’t hurt, and doesn’t cause my entire abdomen to feel like it’s about to violently combust. What used to be safe foods aren’t anymore, and the horrible nutrition I’ve been getting from not being able to eat much is causing even more issues. (Please, no, I don’t want anymore suggestions. If one more person tells me to just eat a clean, vegan diet I will send them the results of that in a Chinese take-out box. It’s been tried.)

In this case, no news is the result of exhaustion so fierce that self care sometimes means having a day in bed. Self care, in a way, sometimes means no care. Just being. Finding space, and filling it with love.

Some days, self care means allowing the anger to rage, the fire to burn and the thoughts to scramble. On those days, self care is allowing what is to be.

I’m not always having good days. I’m not always positive. I’m not always able to smile. “Good days” are not days that I’m feeling better. Good days are simply not being filled with doom and gloom and fear. There is not a day that I have felt physically well since mid-May.

I’ve had all kinds of great advice, but the advice wears thin after awhile. There’s only so much patience anyone has for constant pain, dizziness, ear ringing, nausea, weakness. There’s only so many positive thoughts you can hold before you drop them all and fill with despair. There’s only so many things you can try, only to end up feeling worse and not wanting to do anything without the advice of the specialist you’ve been waiting to see, because all other suggestions have either failed or made things worse.

It’s ok. I’m ok. I’m not despairing, today. Today I feel like I’ve still got fight in me. Today I feel loved and grateful. Today I know that people have my back and I can reach out to them for help, and they’d be happy to step up where I need it. Today is one day closer to getting better – even if that means that I’ll still get worse, first.

Today is ok.

Tomorrow might be. Maybe it won’t. But that’s tomorrow’s problem, and I’ll deal with it then.

Tomorrow I see the Internist I’ve been waiting for. And, maybe, he’ll have some answers. Or maybe not. But at least this part of the waiting is over. Wish me luck.




Letter to the universe

Dear Universe,

I haven’t exactly asked for anything specific lately, or reached out looking for help. I didn’t think I needed to, and I’ve just taken each moment as they come. But you seemed to know what I needed more than I did, as usual, and you provided that to me. I paid attention this time.

Mostly, I’ve been ok. I’m been taking every day as it is, listening to what my body needs and wants and doing my best to just get through each day with a smile and a little bit of progress. I’ve been paying close attention to what’s happening around me, and living in the moment in every way. Mostly, things have been ok.

But there have been moments during some days that I’m not ok. Moments that I just want to cry and collapse and not get up again. Some moments that I DON’T get up again. There are moments that I am angry, frustrated and impatient. These kinds of moments, I’m really not ok.

And every time I’m not ok, something happens that brings me back to being ok. One day, you brought me rain – much needed relief from the heat that was causing a flare of symptoms. Another day, you gave me cucumbers in my garden. Some of those moments are ones that I am able to remind myself that I’m ok, and am able to pull myself back up. And there have been moments that I’ve just allowed everything to be just as it is, in the messy way it needs to be, with the gentle reminder that it’s ok to not be ok. And some of those moments I just need to not be ok….

Today, you brought me people I didn’t know I sorely needed to talk to.

Someone wise and loving advised me to trust the process.

How could I? I have been let down by people so many times before, and I have found it’s so much better to just do things myself. If I’m in control of my life, then I’m the one responsible for what happens.

But what happens when I don’t have control? What then?

Sometimes there are things we can’t control, situations we would never wish for and answers to questions we never asked. The reality is that no one has control, despite wanting to so badly.

Trusting the process involves letting go. Allowing things to be what they are. It is a vulnerability – one of those things I’ve never been good at. For me, it was the realization that the more control I tried to have of my life, the easier it was to lose control, and the more I try to get it back the more I’d fail.

Trust the process…..

I have an impressive list of complaints that I’m tracking closely for my care teams. These complaints are currently in control. The best thing I’ve learned to do is let those symptoms have control, and to do everything I can to reduce them until treatment starts. It’s the best I can do – and in doing my best for myself, I’m doing everything I need to.

And the more I trust the process, the better the Universe seems to respond.

And I am so grateful, for the people, the events and the lessons that keep coming this way. I feel terrible in body, but light in spirit.

I am vibrant, strong and shiny. I’ll get through this, with new lessons and perspectives I would never be able to know otherwise.

I’m ok right now. Tomorrow might be different – or it may be the same, or even better. That’s something to experience tomorrow, though.

Hari Om.

How to Make Progress

Making sense or progress in the medical industry can be hard.

When I was younger, there was no progress to be made. I was considered too young to have any medical problems, and I just needed to get outside more. (I’m an outside junky, by the way, so hearing that opinion caused emotional whiplash.) My hips have always ached, my back has always been sore, PMS has always been intense and often debilitating. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2009 during my tubal ligation, but the gyne wasn’t particularly worried. He said there was nothing to worry about, so I just didn’t. I thought that this was normal and that everyone must experience the same pain on a regular basis, so I did my best to just cope. All of the aches and pains intensified after my knee break – something I blamed my leg for. After knee dropping PMS pain without menstruating for several months, I went back to my gyne to tell him something was wrong. He actually rolled his eyes at me and brushed me off, telling me it was nothing, and prescribing a medication that didn’t actually address the symptoms I came to him with and that was likely to cause depression – something I was just pulling out of. I went to see my GP to explain the same concerns, as well as bring up the concern of my gyne brushing me off, and I was met with the same response. I didn’t fill the prescription.

I also didn’t see another doctor for several years after that, since they couldn’t seem to be able to help me anyways. During this time my pain worsened, I gained alot of weight, and I became desperate. After my previous experience with the last doctors, though, I was scared of being brushed off again. I saw the occasional walk in doctor who prescribed pain medications, but they didn’t work well enough to make a difference.

When the pain became debilitating, and the fistfulls of OTC pain relief medication weren’t working anymore, I just couldn’t do it anymore. That’s when I finally started trying to find a new family doctor and tried Alberta Health Services for a cannabis prescription. (That’s a story you’ll find here.)

The new doctor I found was amazing, and my heart sank when I found out she was leaving so quickly. The clinic assured me they had found an amazing doctor to take her place, but I was skeptic. But I gave him a chance. And I’m glad that I did.

The issues I started seeing him for were minor. They didn’t have much history of mine, so when I went to him one day and told him something was wrong, he was skeptical when I brought up the possibility of Lupus. I couldn’t blame him. He had been seeing me for under a year, I was always healthy, and suddenly I think I have Lupus? Yep. That did sound absurd. I don’t blame him for that. He ran some basic bloodwork to start, and in the time between appointments I sat down and wrong him a letter. Time is limited in the appointments, so I knew I couldn’t get everything that I needed to out. In my letter I detailed my fear and anxiety of physicians, the reasons I didn’t see him about old, common complaints, and the various signs and symptoms I’ve struggled with that were never addressed – most of which I still struggle with, and I made test requests after doing some reading on my own. It was alot. I worried he wouldn’t take it seriously, or that he would be offended at my own requests. I’m not a doctor, afterall – what would I know and maybe I’m just another Google doctor?

And he read it all, while I was there. He asked me questions, and he ordered a buttload more tests. He refers back to it regularly while he deliberates my case and consults with other professionals.

This was my key. This is what I had needed to do, and this was the physician I needed to find. He’s caring, sincere and is working WITH me to try to find out what’s going on. He didn’t roll his eyes, and he’s communicating all steps with me. I wouldn’t have found him if I refused to see a physician for so long. So whatever happened before, it just doesn’t matter. This is where I need to be now.

I used to be angry at the medical system. I felt let down. And now – I’m ok. The medical system is run by people, who make mistakes, which can create more mistakes and loopholes and holes in the system where you can get lost way too easily. It’s a human thing, and it happens. I need to be able to do my part in taking care of myself.

The best thing I ever could have done for myself was to look into things on my own, with an open mind and avenues to look at without convincing myself of something we can’t know yet. There have been days I’ve been scared. Hell, I’m STILL scared. Sometimes unknowns are exciting and adventurous – but some are scary. This is one of those times that the adventure is more scary than exciting.

Progress is being made, though. It does take time, sometimes, and it’s important to remember that. I took control of my own health, and I have learned to FIRE my doctor if I’m not happy with the one I have. There are others – and some will be more well suited to my case than others. Some doctors don’t fit well with me – and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean they won’t do better for someone else.

One of my teachers advised me to trust the system. Maybe not the medical system, per se, but the system overall. Things will happen, and I’ll adjust as I need to. And I’m excited to have more exciting unknowns again!

Day at a Time

Things have been pretty quiet over here, and I’ve had a few people pop in to ask what’s up. I’m ready to share.

It’s been an intense year, with so many things on the go! Renovations are underway to work on the basement studio, adding insulation to heat it up in the winter and replacing the flooring. Our fence is being extended for easier access to the back door for entry to said studio when it’s ready, every window in the house is getting replaced, and we’re so excited for the much needed upgrades. The windows are currently being manufactured and will be installed before winter comes. I finished my yoga teacher training earlier this month, which took up much of my time as well. I had to request an extension for the clinical aromatherapy course, which is due to be completed soon.

Unfortunately, some things have come up and absolutely everything has had to be put on hold (except for the windows – which is not someone we’re doing, and the fence, which my husband is taking on). This is also the reason that I missed some hours in my yoga training which I have to make up before I’m officially a yoga teacher. My body has decided to do it’s own thing to force me to do a slow-down. I’ve taken the firm, hard hint as a necessity, and am focusing on figuring out what I hope isn’t a new normal. These things have forced a shut down not only in business, but most of my regular lifestyle, too. The symptoms are concerning and painful, and therefore exhausting, but I seem to have a really good team of caring professionals who are helping in any way they can to pinpoint the issues so that we can move forward in fixing (or, at least, reducing) them. There are a few things we’re looking into, but no real answers yet.

I’ve learned many things lately, and one of the biggest ones is not only to forgive myself – but also realize that there are so many things that don’t need an apology for. One thing that came up quite often in peer evaluations during our practicums (and even with the Ayurvedic practitioner that I saw last weekend) is that I need to be more gentle with myself, and “put the stick away”. Beating myself up isn’t going to help anything, and only make things worse.

And I absolutely agree!! I tell the same to other people all the time. Be gentle with yourself. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to feel. It’s ok when you react. The best thing you can do is move forward and always work on being better. So on. So forth.

Why, then, do I seem to have so much trouble taking my own advice?

I started feeling sick a few months ago. It was minor, and I didn’t really think much of it. I’ve always reacted poorly in the sun in the spring, but this time was different. It seemed to be a bigger reaction, more intense, and didn’t fade with the rash like it usually does after the first exposures in the spring. And it got worse, until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Other things came up that weren’t normal. As someone who pushes through things and waits it out, it’s not something I could do anymore. I finally admitted that there was something very wrong – and I admitted that admitting that scared me.

This is vulnerability at its best. Some people would argue that it would be a bad thing, but sometimes vulnerability has a special magic in helping you learn more about yourself than ever.

I had already felt that I had been vulnerable in the yoga teacher training course prior to feeling unwell, but this was a whole new level that I didn’t know what to do with. Nervously, I let myself stop everything. I asked permission from my teachers. I slowed down, since I was shutting down anyways. I uneasily let it happen as it needed to happen. I went to class. I participated as much as I could. I stopped when I needed to. I stopped driving after realizing how drunk I felt all the time (and that hasn’t changed to this day). Day at a time has turned to moment by moment.

What I finally realized during the yoga retreat was that I didn’t need permission from my teachers. I needed permission from myself. It was, apparently, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do – to give myself permission to be vulnerable. There’s a difference between being vulnerable, and actually allowing myself to be. There’s been some pretty hard things I’ve had to do. Who knew this would be one of them. (I sure didn’t.)

And so, there are no apologies to anyone, except to myself. An apology is defined as “a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure” or “a very poor or inadequate example of something”.

This is a situation beyond my control, and not one I feel I should be apologizing to anyone for. This hasn’t been a choice. This isn’t what I’d consider relaxing. And it certainly isn’t fun. I haven’t caused an offence. It’s not a failure. I don’t believe it’s a poor or inadequate example of anything. In fact, I think it may be a great example of taking control where I need to and where I can, as well as making an example by putting myself as a priority for once.  It’s just a part of the journey. I encourage (and CHALLENGE) anyone to put themselves before any other endeavour. If I were anyone else, I’d be damned proud of that person for taking the steps needed to take care of themselves in a similar situation. And, with that thinking, I finally realized how proud I am of myself for doing exactly the thing I encourage others to do.

I’m forgiving myself, finally, for not allowing myself the same liberties, joy and celebrations that I’ve encouraged others to partake in. I’ve stopped apologizing to my amazing, understanding husband for things I’m not guilty for. I’m so thankful for him and his ongoing support, and of the other people who have helped and supported me along the way. I have my frustrated days, and I’ll have more. And that’s ok. But for the most part, I’ve found that just taking things slowly and step at a time is best. I have plans and ideas and things to work towards, sure, but by not having a current agenda, deadlines or expectations, I’m able to really focus on what’s happening right now. It’s needed.

And, for maybe the first time, I’ve feel like I’ve really allowed myself to focus on just me and my health. I’ve focused on this before, but I don’t think I ever actually gave myself permission to do it, and had a lingering guilt for it.

Not this time. This time, I give myself permission to find my health again.

Hari Om.

Finding Balance

Have you ever found yourself so motivated and inspired that you want to do everything at once – and you try to – and then find yourself so overwhelmed with all of these amazing ideas that your body is the one to have to actually put a halt to your efforts?

Welcome to my life. This tends to happen – I get excited and jump into projects with both feet with so much enthusiasm that other people have no idea where I’m off to next. I love it! But, alas, my body does not.

This year has started with me running. January is normally a time for me to relax, sort my workspace and computer files and generally figure out what’s next. This year, I was ready for action, though, and I’ve been non stop with the projects since day 1 of the new year.

And also with the courses!

My Aromatherapy case studies are coming to a close, I’ve been making custom orders all month, and I started yoga teacher training last weekend. It’s been a fast moving train of so much YES!

Alas, I’ve also been exposed to many, many germs over the the last couple of months. Most of them I’ve been able to battle off successfully without feeling a sniffle, but I think me catapulting straight out of my comfort zone and into organised chaos may have worn me down a bit more than I had thought. Today I find myself enjoying the comforts of my bed with the friendly comfort of a kleenex box. There is no yoga, no gym, no breakfast. Just me, bed, sleep. I know when I need rest, and this is it. Pushing through illness will only wear me down more and won’t help my body fight off the plague demons trying to take over my lungs.

I have finally learned that lesson, after all of these years.

I used to get EVERY illness that I came across. My immune system was shot (no thanks to an intense antibiotic treatment I needed to fight off a blood infection years ago). Since paying attention and learning more and treating myself properly, however, I find I’m rarely ill these days. The husband comes home will all kinds of nasties, and I make him tea and steam baths and all the things I can do to try to evict them before they decide that I look yummier.

So far, so good.

Until now. I understand why I got sick – while the TYY classes were fantastic, it also ripped me out of my comfort zone so far that I believe my body is trying to tell me that it’s mad at me, and is having a party despite my discomfort. I do not approve of the friends they invited over.

After sleeping in long enough for the dog to mimic her own apparent illness after vomiting over all the things, I managed to get some tea made and am looking forward to the elderberry syrup and kitchari I have currently cooking on the stove. These are the things I look towards when sick. I don’t stifle the coughing and sniffles like so many cough medicines do – I encourage them. I don’t want these things to put unnecessary stress on my lymph system. Who wants all these dead cells floating around their body? Not I – I’d rather evict them the gross, old fashioned way in order to get them – and their friends – OUT of me faster. The faster they’re out, the faster I feel better.

A huge difference I’ve noticed is that when I do get sick (and the husband, for the matter), we recover so much faster than we used to, and so much faster than others around us.

Both the elderberry syrup and kitchari are fantastic at boosting the immune system and breaking up congestion, and I don’t know what I did without either of these in my life before. (Actually – I do. I was miserable!!) It’s easy to change up and make your own, but there’s honestly nothing I usually want to change. It’s great just as it is.

(As for the dog, she gets pumpkin. Just good ‘ol pureed pumpkin to ease her ailing belly aches.)

See one (of many) kitchari recipes here.

Elderberry Syrup

Hari Om.

Just like all things, this will pass, and I’ll be back to getting all of the things done in no time!

Stay well, my friends.