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Patience

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Healing from a chronic illness requires a tremendous amount of patience. Somethings are slow. Some things take a long time to happen. Some things require a persistence that I’m learning I have within me.

Last week, I was waiting for my menstrual cycle to start. It was late. I was having all the symptoms of a late period: flaring of my currently active infection (this time Bartonella), no appetite, fatigue, and an impending sense of doom. The sense of doom comes from the fact that every time my period is late, I get really sick. Not just cramps and a headache, but vomiting (which happened on Monday followed by 4 hours of dead-to-the-world sleep, and the cramps, headache, and fatigue continued for another day as well) and diarrhea and chills and sweats (which I was fortunate enough not to have this time). So not only was I waiting for my cycle to start, but I was bracing myself to get through the worst part. I was waiting for it to be over before it even began.

Meanwhile, I was waiting to either figure out how to get rid of the foot pain that was keeping me from strolling around outside during the few hours a day that the sun was out, or for the foot pain to resolve on its own. I was coiling for Lyme and Bartonella, let you think this was a passive process, and hoping for speed. For now, the foot pain is lessened. I can walk farther before it forces me to stop.

The treatments themselves take time. So, beyond coiling, I started taking DIM (diindolylmethane, a broccoli derivative that helps balance the different forms of estrogen in the blood stream). This is likely to take at least one to two months to make a big difference. So I am trying to be patient, knowing that I might go through the same menstrual drama once or twice more.

There are rewards for patience and persistence. I had to rest for a full week and a half between the foot problems and the menstrual problems. I wasn’t quite bored, but I was wishing for this little interlude to be over. By Wednesday, I was able to do some walking. Joe and I spent the evening watching a movie on the beach at Santa Cruz Wharf, watching the stars twinkle during the cheesy scenes.

Rest turns out to be one of the ways I allow my body to recharge. So I’ve rested. And I’ll probably end up resting again because I’m tiring out kind of fast. And resting requires patience because there are so many things to do that are more fun.

Today, we had planned to do something fun and very active. But I’m still working with a 30% charge on my battery. In other words, I can only do very little before I need to get semi-horizontal and slow down. So we looked at the beautiful weather and headed to the beach. We stayed there for about three hours. The first two hours, I sat in a low chair and watched the waves and the birds and the people, all splashing around in the surf.

Then I finally decided I wanted to go in. I had watched Joe swim around, which made me very jealous. I remembered walking on the beach last year and promising that I would get myself well enough to go in this year. The issue I was worried about back then was that my joints got painful and stiff in cold water, even my knuckles would hurt if I brushed my teeth with cold water. Today, the water was a not-so-balmy 63 deg F, but about as warm as it gets around here.

I got in the water. I splashed around and jumped over waves about waist deep. Apparently I had a huge grin on my face the entire time. My joints were okay. My bones and muscles were okay. But after a few minutes, my battery was empty again. I lay on a towel in the sand, big smile stuck to my face, and enjoyed the sunshine for forty-five minutes.

Patience. The recognition that sometimes I need a few months to make something work (like changing what I do to support my hormones or get rid of a Babesia relapse) and sometimes I need a year to be able to do something I love again (like submersing myself in the ocean). Patience gets me through the rough days, knowing that I’m on track, that as long as I persist, I will find my way to becoming well.

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