One year ago, on February 8, 2012, I became ill with what I thought was an average head cold. My energy was zapped and my head was stuffed up, but my grand plan was to just to keep pushing through it. I continued to play golf, plan events, and workout (Jazzercise at least 4 times per week). By February 19, 2012 I knew I was dealing with something more serious than a cold. I could no longer push myself to be active in my life and I was very sick with headaches, nausea, cough, light sensitivity, body aches, rashes, night sweats and extreme fatigue.
What began with a quick stop at the Walgreens clinic, turned into a year-long struggle for a clear diagnosis and effective treatment. As of today, I have found neither. I’ve seen seven doctors and tried every treatment that was offered to me – Amoxicillan, Doxycycline, Diflucan, Morinda Supreme, Symbicort, Cymbalta, Xango, flower essences, Oil of Oregano, Pau ‘d Arco, Multidophilus, massage, Yoga, meditation, IV vitamin treatments, herbal tinctures, adrenal support supplements, cranio-sacral bodywork and color therapy. Whew! No wonder I’m exhausted!
I wanted this first blOg pOst to be about how well I’ve handled being forced, by extreme fatigue and illness, to be housebound for the past year. I wanted to share how taking the leap of faith to begin playing with art saved my life. While that is all true, what is really present today is fear. Fear that I may never get well. Fear that I may have a chronic illness for the rest of my life. Fear that I will never get to travel or play golf or go for another hike. I love being outside and I have missed it so much. I’ve missed so many special occasions and gatherings, and that has been really hard, too.
I’ve always loved the movie Groundhog Day. It is so funny and heart-warming, and in the end, Bill Murray’s character learns the value of being honest, authentic and truly loving. What I didn’t get, until now, is the amount of courage and tenacity it takes to keep getting out of bed in the morning to do it “all over again”. That darn groundhog isn’t so cute after day 200 or day 300 or day 366!
I have been so sure that I have Valley Fever, but the truth is at this point, I’m not really sure what is making me this sick. Two doctors say Valley Fever (please read the abOut valley fever menu option for more information on this disease), one doctor says chronic fatigue, and another treated me for Lyme Disease and several other infections. Talk about feeling crazy! I’ve been on this roller coaster long enough. I’ve talked about it, painted about it, accepted it, learned from it, and even been grateful for it. And, yet, this is where I find myself. Still.
So, once again, I return to my mantra: “It Is What It Is”. In the past, those words sounded like resignation to me (and not in a good way). Because of the last year, they now bring me peace. Peace that I really have done all that I could, and that I’m not to blame. There is something oddly embarrassing about being sick for so long, with no real explanation why. My friends’ oncologist said to me last week, “Well, it’s something.” That was exactly what I needed to hear! It IS something, and I won’t give up on finding what it is, and finding something that will help me get well.
Until then, I will keep painting, and talking, and crying, and loving, and laughing, and being grateful for it all. Because the truth is, that is who I really am.
If you have favorite mantras that help you get through the really hard times, I would love to hear them. Thanks so much for listening, and sharing!