Thinking About Being Sick for About 10 Years

This post is absolutely not to get sympathy or pity but it is supposed to be a little spiritual post to share some of what I have learned about health and wellbeing….

The situation is that when I was about 14 or 15 I started getting sick with various ailments and got sicker and sicker throughout my teenage years and no one really figured out what was wrong. I went to a lot of doctors who just sort of didn’t know what was going on. We finally settled on chronic fatigue syndrome, but that was just sort of a best guess. When I was about 20 and started seeing holistic doctors and seeking alternative treatment, I got less sick and it has been less bad since. But not gone. And now, the week that my mom visited for her longest visit EVER I got very very sick with multiple infections. I am pretty much always more or less tired. Think how you feel after you run maybe a mile or two. I feel like that really most of the time. So I’ve been laying around all week feeling sorry for myself but as I sit in my cozy little apartment and listen to itunes while surfing uublogs, I felt it important to honor a body that is more sensitive to her environment and reflect on how difficult it is to be in our bodies as our bodies rather than as vessels that get us around, like a little car you can take to the mechanic if it isn’t working. So often, I get very grumpy and declare that I’m just going to go to a doctor and insist that he or she make me better, whatever it takes. But in the moments when I am more mindful, I remember that Elizabeth’s body is not like Elizabeth’s Scion (that’s my cute little car). Of course, there are things that require a doctor to treat you – broken leg, breast cancer, etc. I’m not saying that doctors can’t help in the healing process. But what my body constantly reminds me is that it is part of me and I must be in my body and take an active role in caring for myself as a whole being – body, mind, spirit. I would probably not have the nerve to say if I had it to do all over again that I would go through my years of serious and less-serious-but-still-really-not-nice health challenges again. But, since I have gone through this and continue to, I am amazed at how much I learn from it and how much we are taught by our society that health is about the absence of being “sick” and after a bout like I’ve had this week, I forget how wonderful it is to feel pretty good rather than really bad. Hallelujah for the small joys of life!

What if we were taught early on that if we hold onto hurt, to trauma… that this will be held not only in our minds but our bodies?

What if we were taught that sickness is not something that needs to be “fixed” but a message our body is sending us that our systems are in distress and need attention – either physical, mental, or spiritual – or all three?

What if care of the soul was understood to be essential to health and well-being?

What if doctors learned to listen to patients? What if our doctor was one part of our approach to healing, rather than the mechanic who will fix us?

What if our culture prioritized health rather than productivity?

What if we didn’t feel guilty when we needed to rest more? To take care of ourselves more?

p.s. Speaking of small joys of life, super-companion-animal woman of our church who has cats, dogs, and, if I understand her correctly, a tourtiuse, will probably be adoptiong Harriet and Max our little foster kittens. This woman is super smart and kind and just overall cool (and her husband is equally neat although not as in love with animals as she is and as W. and I are) and she is such a good mama to her companion animals – we’re so excited that Max and Harriet might get to move in with her we can barely stand it. Max and Harriet are psyched too :) We can visit them! Yay!

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6 Responses to Thinking About Being Sick for About 10 Years

  1. Charlie Talbert says:

    Your post reminds me of the inscription on the Ruleville, Mississippi tombstone, a humble memorial alone in an open field with her husband’s, of Fannie Lou Hamer: “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

    Vicky and I saw it a few years ago on a car trip through the South to see sites important to the civil rights struggles of the 50s and 60s.

    As you may know, FLH was a poor black woman whose family was kicked off their sharecropper property when she attempted to register to vote. She overcame this and other adversities to lead the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party to the 1964 and 1968 Democratic conventions, challenging Mississippi’s all-white “official” delegation.

    I admire her words of resolve. In the newsclips from those days she sure doesn’t seem sick and tired. Neither do you!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Ha. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. This should go up on my fridge as my motto. Along with other nicer, more upbeat mottos I could think of. Thanks for the comment. I became aware of FLH when I was doing research for a book and part of it was to research the ethnic makeup of schools named after civil rights activists. Almost inevitably, the Rosa Park Elementary or the Fannie Lou Hamer High School or the zillions of MLK schools were at least 90% minority. It was almost as if one could name the school a good name, maybe no one would notice that the school was still segregated de facto. Anyway. Off the subject, but glad to konw that FLH and I have something in common. :) Hope you are well, Charles. I’ll send something to the UFETA listserve that you might like. In fact, I’ll do that now.

  3. Clyde Grubbshttp://justworld.typepad.com/perspectives/ says:

    Check out the health, spirituality and healing courses at Andover Newton….good stuff, liberal basis….

    and there are many people looking for a wholistic relation between healing and spirituality

    this might be your ministry?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Your meditation on your sickness is a reminder to me of how spiritual and amazing you are. The ability to get outside your ego needs and bodily needs and see this thing as a message is really transcendental. On the mornings when I feel healthy and happy and whole, I am reminded of how lucky I am , in a world full of pain and death and uncertainty, to have my little corner of the world with my small emblems of truth and love all around me.

  5. LaReinaCobrehttp://lareinacobre.net says:

    This is a really unique post. Thanks!

  6. […] is more than your typical online community for people with particular illnesses. As someone who struggled with chronic illness for a long time, I am all too familiar with the affirmation that comes with […]

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