Chronicles of a Sick Person

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With a 100.5 degree fever and feeling as though I’ve been run over by a truck, I’m athinking my planned solo saunter to JJ Hot Springs to celebrate Mike and I’s anniversary tomorrow is out. What can I say? Sickness happens. It’s part of life.

And now, please excuse me while I return to bed to languish. Alas, I fear that death is near. Go on without me!

Okay. Well. It would’ve been a lovely day to go to the hot springs today as I’d planned, to celebrate Mike & I’s anniversary – the sun is shining and the sky is blue here in Missoula. But I am still super sick – though my fever has come down a bit, which is nice. While I’m bummed my plans were thwarted, let’s be real, is it ever a “good” time to get sick?

Sick person cave checklist:

– Multiple blankets and pillows for managing my hot & cold flashes and shifting comfort levels associated with everything hurting: check!
– Heating pad and heating blanket: check!
– Can of ginger ale within arm’s reach: check!
– Thermometer: check!
– Handkerchief: check!
– Laptop with Netflix: check!
– Bottles of water (even though thus far they’ve gone untouched, because for some reason water sounds horrible to drink right now): check!
– Curtains drawn to keep out the light (because I have pronounced light sensitivity): check!
– Bag of Halls: check!
– A still pretty good attitude: check!
– A cat that is part super great (see pic below) and part super not, depending on the moment at hand: check!

It’s worth mentioning that I felt called to post about my state of physical unwellness in order to present a full and accurate picture of my life, and not just post about the adventures I take and the hobbies and interests I have. And sickness is part of the deal. So here’s an update on the health front:

I had a friend take me to a clinic yesterday and they routed me to the ER, where I was given fluids and some meds, which caused me to feel better enough to head home. And I slept through the night, which was helpful. I’m now able to sit upright for short bursts of time, which feels like a great victory! Small steps!

Mike called last night and of course feels badly that he’s not here to take care of me but I assured him I’m in good hands – I’ve got a tribe of wonderful friends around me, what more does a girl need?

Gosh, I’m just so glad that I’m no longer the type of person to be all like: “No, no, it’s cool, I’m fine,” when people offer their support, while silently not being cool or fine. I’m also no longer the type of person who won’t ask for help when I need it. Whew! What a relief to be done with all that falderal.

Yesterday, my friend Amy dropped off my daily smoothie and my friend Michael dropped off some miso. And today my friend Marko dropped off my daily smoothie and more ginger tea. I feel so very lucky to be surrounded by such sweet people to help take care of me.

My only order of business – for the past 3 days – has been to rest and stay hydrated. Did I mention I’m sick?

Turns out, the less stuff you have on your to-do list, the harder it is to do those things well. And by well I mean with grace and ease and joy.

But I learned this lesson years ago, back when I was bed ridden with nerve pain, and I feel as though that gave me the proper training to hone an artful mastery of weathering such minor hiccups of health as what I’m experiencing now.


Additional Commentary:

On Sunday, I took notice and delighted in the simple victories of health improvement from the day prior, such as: being able to sit upright; being able to look outside and enjoy the sunshine (vs. having strong light sensitivity and averting my eyes from it); and not regarding the drinking of water as the worst sounding thing ever. Having this sort of ability to shift perspective, especially in times of challenge, is an extremely helpful skill. It’s also a fruit of the practice.

One of my humorous/serious life guiding statements is: It could be worse. And it’s true, you know. My full statement is: It could be worse, I could be on fire. And that second part, of course, is where the humor comes in – ya know, in a dark/sarcastic sort of way.

The premise of cultivating joy is not about ignoring the suffering that exists in our life. And the premise of cultivating gratitude is not about ignoring the matters of injustice and hardship that exist in the world. Watering our seeds of joy and gratitude are about not ignoring the elements of beauty and goodness that also exist, right alongside the suffering and the injustice and the hardship.

So there’s a way to be sick-as-a-dog and not have our spirit completely wiped out, is what I’m saying. It’s possible to strengthen our ability to focus on the good, however small it might be.

We all know that old adage: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. While this certainly can be true, I would venture to say that more often than not, this is not the case for folks. Sometimes – maybe even oftentimes – what doesn’t kill us weakens our resolve for life, dampening our spirit and our ability to love our self and be at ease. Being able to use challenges and hardship, or discomfort and unpleasantness, as opportunities to grow stronger takes skill and practice – it takes learning how to do it, by kind and experienced friends and teachers.

The stronger our seeds of joy, ease, and gratitude become in our daily garden of life, the more able we will be to weather such things as sickness, inclement weather, injury, a bad day, stress, frustration, feelings of hurt, fatigue, and so on, without our spirit edging towards the danger zone of hopelessness.

It’s not amid the pleasant, comfortable moments that we have the greatest potential to learn about our self, and to grow, transform, and heal. It’s amid the moments that are rough and tumble.

Experiencing darkness is what affords us the ability to not only appreciate the light but to become it, but only if we are able to approach it with a certain quality of faith that everything in life takes practice. That every single thing we experience in life can be used a tool or a weapon, depending on how we use it. Otherwise, we’ll just be saturated by the darkness, unable to move.



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