Sunday, May 10, 2009

Accepting What Is

As many of you know I'm trying to figure out how to get to a place of acceptance. It graced my day on Friday. I felt more at peace about it while also feeling less fear. I've been plagued by an increase in heart symptoms which always makes me wonder whether or not I'm going to die of a heart attack. Instead of anxiety I feel more of a sense of curiosity. I'm having more consistent chest pain but nothing resembling that of an impending heart attack. It feels like the muscle in my heart hurts. That along with the increase in heart palpitations and what feels like a racing heart along with my left foot turning a dusky color when I sit have prompted me to find a new doctor who can refer me to a cardiologist. A year ago I would have felt really frightened but now I feel calm.

I went to the library yesterday which probably wasn't a good idea given how tired I felt but I'm glad I did because I was able to check out "Alchemy of Illness" by Kat Duff along with another book called "Finding the Way Home: A compassionate approach to illness" by Gayle Heiss. Both look very good.

I found this passage in "Finding the Way Home" (p. 142-143):

Accepting illness is a way of making it our own. It is a creative act, unique to each individual. It requires all the curiosity, imagination, intuition, commitment, and faith necessary to any other creative endeavor. We work with what we are given and use whatever tools we can find, often discovering we have many more resources than we thought. The act of accepting illness changes not only the experience of illness; we undergo a metamorphosis as well.

Flying without Wings is an account of Arnold Beisser's life since the onset of polio at age twenty-five. It left him paralyzed from the neck down and unable to breath outside an iron lung. Beisser had just completed medical school and won a national tennis championship when "without warning my body failed me. In a few hours I was transformed from a doctor into a patient, from an athlete to a cripple. Polio ravaged me so I that I could not move. I could not stand, walk, sit, eat, drink, or even breathe by myself."

Beisser continues:

My physical world had shrunk to the small room that contained my iron lung. My field of vision was limited to the ceiling and what was reflected in the mirror on my iron lung. In the evening, when the world grew darker, my world shrank further. I could no longer see the pattern on the ceiling, and the reflection in the mirror was dim. Not until two years later, in my fourth hospitalization, could I turn my head to the side enough to look down a corridor outside my room.

One evening, lying there alone, feeling particularly hopeless and bored, I looked down the corridor wishing for, perhaps expecting, someone or something. But I saw only the darkened hallway with a few doors opening into it. There was no activity, and there were no people to be seen. My despair mounted, and I felt as though I could no longer stand it. Then, slowly, I began to see variations, shades of gray and darkness, shadows and light. The doorways opening onto the corridor formed subtle geometric patterns according to the different ways the doors were ajar. I began to look carefully and wonder at this scene that only a few moments before had depressed me so. It now seemed startlingly beautiful. My perception had shifted, my eyes miraculously refreshed. This experience was full and whole. I looked down the hallway for a long time. I think that at last I probably fell asleep, but I a not sure.

I do not know how that perception arrived, or why it left, but from then on I understood that what I sought was possible. My task now was to discover how to change from one place to the other. (as quoted from Heiss, p. 142-143)


I thought that was pretty cool.


Jozephine said...

Yes, pretty cool. Thanks.

Pris said...

I've read those books and they're excellent. Wait until you dig into Kat Duff's book. I still have it in the small bookcase by my bed and I read it in the nineties.

Sue Jackson said...

Hi, Terri - The quotes from the book were great - thanks for including them here.

Your chest pains and heart palpitations are almost certainly due to Orthostatic Intolerance (OI) - a condition of low blood volume and low blood pressure that almost always accompanies CFS - and Lyme also.

Try HUGE amounts of salt and fluids - lots and lots. Drink V-8 juice or Gatorade (lots of sodium). Eat ramen noodles and other super-salty foods and drink, drink, drink. That should help. There are also medications that can sometimes help, though some work better for kids than adults.

Here's more info:

Hope that helps. I'm sure your positive attitude will help you, too!


Renee said...

This was good to read Terri. I really like what he said about having a perception shift. It spoke to me tonight.
Thanks for sharing this with us.

Kerry said...

Terri, Thanks for sharing these words... (I sure needed to read them today, as the journey of accepting my own illness feels ever ongoing).

I'm sorry that you are now dealing with cardiac problems--ugh, but happy at the peace and acceptance you are finding. Inspiring Terry!