The Cure

It’s hanging out there like the elusive carrot on a stick. The cure. We run after it, sometimes for years. And, of course we do. We want to get well. Sometimes people do find one, simple, cure, and that’s wonderful. Often times, with chronic illness, the cure comes in the form of a mosaic. A hard-won, creative synthesis, of so many protocols and practices, pitfalls and private epiphanies.  And then some. It becomes an art. And it’s so different for everyone. Even people suffering with the same illness. A friend may try a new path or protocol and make progress. We try the same and don’t see any changes. Or, the opposite happens.

We will never be the same women or men that we were before we were sick. Cures often promise that, endless dollars are spent, but illness changes us in ways that we would never have imagined. Generally, it is required of us that we re-build ourselves. And the re-build is a course in improvisation. Kind of like a house that has had better days and needs the tender, loving, imaginative, care of a person who has a vision of what it could be. Someone who sees that the spirit of the house is dying to show itself. That it needs some attention to be able to show off it’s best features.

Chronic illness doesn’t get a lot of attention, because it can be so mysterious. There is usually nothing cut and dry about it. So many rabbit holes to get lost in, so many doctors who aren’t experienced in how to help, truckloads of  information online to get buried in, so much misunderstanding and confusion. What to do?

I find that one of the most helpful things to do is to slow down. Get quiet with yourself. Even if it’s only for a few minutes. Remember that healing is going to take some time. Let all the various thoughts and pressures in your mind and body settle, without adding anything to it.  I know, easier said than done. Writing in a journal can help you process thoughts and feelings about what you’re going through and assist you in seeing more clearly what the best next step will be. It can also help you decide what to add to your design and what to leave out, and that can be a huge relief.

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Double-Dutch Jump Rope

I wrote this in the spring and it’s now fall, time to get it posted! Just pretend it’s spring for a minute.

It’s the second day of spring and we in the Pacific Northwest are starting to feel the weather shift. It’s still wet but getting a bit warmer and less windy. I use a large light box as a substitute for sun rays in the winter and it does the trick sometimes but there is nothing like the sun, shining in all its glory and warmth. As my brother said recently, “The sun is singular”. It may have something to do with being a Leo but it just seems to permeate my body and wake everything up, (including my brain) even if it’s just filtering or flirting through a window. Simply standing outside, closing my eyes, tilting my head up to the sun and feeling the warmth on my face is so relaxing.  Some call it “sunning”.

Simple pleasures like sunning can become like a new lease on life after being sick for a long time. When sick, I had minus zero energy. I got used to a simple act like making a grilled cheese sandwich be THE main event of the day. I don’t eat grilled cheese sandwiches anymore, (you know, gluten and dairy are NO foods now) but I sure do miss the yummy comfort of the warm, buttery, grilled bread, and the soft, luxurious, melted cheese. My former Go To comfort food.

At the end of a day I would say to myself, “What a successful day! You made a beautiful, delicious, grilled cheese sandwich! Nice job.” And wasn’t being sarcastic.

There were days when getting food into me was the extent of my activity.  That and slow trips to the bathroom, the couch, the bed. Early on, I was hard on myself for not being able to do more. Sarcastic too, about my accomplishment for the day. “Woohoo! You made a sandwich today. That’s just GREAT.” But, I’ve softened. I’m much easier on myself. I’ve learned to honor my limits. Pushing never had a good result, but it’s very understandable.

Over time, simple things like looking out my fifth floor apartment window to the doings of the neighborhood below was helpful. Mixed but helpful. Got me out of my head.

I was living in such a strange, isolated, bubble of sickness, but from my perch, I could see people walking back from the nearby QFC or Walgreens, hauling a heavy load of groceries, with celery tops and corn on the cob tassels sticking out of the top of the bag; old, new, and shiny tricked out cars, coming and going, always on a mission.  A baby stuffed into a basket with a blanket to keep the sun off, and small, tightly packed gardens with a mosaic of plantings; bok choy, tomatoes, grasses, flowers of every color, herbs. My view reminded me of one of those pop-up books, that when you open the cover, a 3-D town pops out, with every little thing you could imagine in it, all the way down to the stray cat rolling in the sun.

One summer afternoon, I looked down from my lookout post and saw some happy girls wearing bright colors, playing double-dutch jump-rope on the pavement below. I envied their energy. Oowee! I wanted that spark! They were amazing; jumping and twirling, laughing and singing jump rope songs with such abandon and joy that I had to grin and wave hi to them, even though I was five floors above and they couldn’t see me.

I eventually moved from that apartment, those long days of illness and captivity, and I now live in a sweet place on a beautiful island. My health is much better these days. I’m not jumping rope yet but I’m not counting it out.

Illness forces us to look at everything differently. There’s no way around it. I’ve tried. It’s just part of what happens. We are changed. I gradually learned to let in the little joys that I came across. No matter how small.  At first, when I saw those delightful girls jumping rope, I was envious of them. I wanted to play too. I played double-dutch as a girl, too. How could it be that I could barely walk across the room? I wanted my life back. But then, just watching their skill and hearing their infectious laughter, I had to chuckle and give it up.

Living with chronic illness can be the hardest thing you’ve ever done and I understand. At the same time, see if you can find just one glimmer of light in your day. Maybe it’s the crazy squirrel who won’t stop coming to your window and finally makes you laugh, the stellar’s jay with its great hairdo, all dressed in blue, parading past your other window, a smile from the cute UPS guy or gal who is delivering your supplements. This is not Pollyanna, it’s actually an essential skill when living with chronic illness. It takes practice but is so worth developing.

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Welcome to the Bethamay Wellness Blog!

Hello!

I’m so grateful you are here!

I want this blog, my website: http://bethamaywellnesscoaching.com/

and my coaching practice, to be safe and sacred spaces, where you can relax and find sustenance and support for your mind and body, soul and spirit, as you manage your life with chronic illness.

In the blog, I will offer guidance and encouragement for self-care, a window into my own journey from being bed-bound to living with greater wellness, information for reducing stress and overwhelm, ideas for bringing more joy into your life, and support for finding what brings nourishment to your soul and spirit as you traverse your days with illness.

My ability to support, coach, and have deep empathy for you, comes from many years living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and then, being diagnosed Lymphoma.

I have lived it and have coached many through the landscape of illness. I’m glad you’re here. I hope this blog, my website, and my work, become healing companions for you on your journey. Welcome and make yourself at home. I look forward to meeting and working with you.