Reflections on Illness
I have personally had the experience of acute sciatic problems twice over the last month that had left me in pain and stuck to my floor/bed for two weeks of out of this month. This is an ailment I have never experienced before and was not fun.
Certainly a great reminder of what many of my chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia clients experience on a day to day basis.
Whilst I improved slowly over these times as the inflammation decreases, not being able to work and live the lifestyle I take for granted. led me at times to feel extremely frustrated and I really struggled with the pain and the process. On one occasion, on my second stint on the floor, I really hit rock bottom and was just completely fed up and frustrated. I felt so helpless.
It is often when we hit the lows that we can finally stop and learn. In the surrender to the circumstance I was able to just stop over a couple of days and listen to the message, for me, behind the ailment. In this period of stopping and getting out of my head, I been able to become more and more aware of what is important in life.
Aided by a beautiful book that I read over these two days, “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”, by Richard Flanagan, I really felt the message behind what I was dealing with. Or, in other words, the learning I could take from this experience.
I will quote two passages from the book above that really sum this up:
“And his life was now, he felt, one monumental unreality in which everything that did not matter – professional ambitions, the private pursuit of status, the colour of wallpaper, the size of an office or the matter of a dedicated car parking space – was vested with the greatest significance, and everything that did matter – pleasure, joy, friendship, love – was deemed somehow peripheral. It made for dullness mostly and weirdness generally”.
“His mind was still good; he knew he had once been a POW as he knew he had once been a foetus. But of that experience nothing remained. What did was an irrevocable idea of human goodness, as undeniable as it was beautiful……..he was finally a free man. Thereafter he took great pleasure in wind, in the sound of rain. He marveled at the feeling of dawn on a hot day. He exalted in the smiles of strangers. He worked at habits and friendship seeing in them the only alternative to what he felt the alternative was.”
Again by Richard Flanagan; “A good book, he had concluded, leaves you wanting to reread the book. A great book compels you to reread your own soul”.
This is one of those books.
And, this has been my experience, once I surrendered and slowed the mental chatter down. I became grateful for the things that mean the most for me – love, friends, family, my work giving service which comes from my heart, my health. Money, ambition, possessions, adventures etc. – they exist and we cannot escape them. We must honour them in fact. But they are not the important things.
I am grateful for my life and that I will get better. My heart goes out to those who live with chronic pain or illness that cannot or has not been resolved.
I am also very grateful for my friends who have helped me over this few weeks – Robyn, Jenna, Helen, Kim, mum, Penny x 2, Mitch, Josh, Ryan, Liz and Jeff to name a few. You are what’s most important to me..