Sunday, May 06, 2007

in sickness and in health

i awoke early this morning - too early. the kind of early you lay in bed and think "please god, let me fall back to sleep, i'll never be able to face the day if i don't get more sleep" early. no more sleep for me. my mind started whirring. that is always the beginning of the end of sleep for me. i can sometimes read myself back to sleep, but i didn't even bother. instead i laid in bed and worried.

i tucked my son in last night fevered and ill. he was like fire, cheeks red and little body hot to the touch. i awoke this morning remembering that some in our community have been exposed to scarlet fever. that has such a depression era sound to it for my ears. i think one of my aunts had that when she was a little girl. scarlet fever. what if it is scarlet fever? what does that look like? what does that mean? my mind whirred into quite a spiral. it hasn't done that in a while.

other than that nasty bout of stomach virus we had we've all been incredibly healthy. lucky? blessed? sheltered? i don't know - but i know i drew the long straw here in regard to having healthy kids. i have watched so many parents deal with their own children being sick, enduring surgeries and even sometimes the death of a child.

this morning i spun myself into quite a swirl of 'i knew it, it couldn't last' - somewhere deep within my heart i feel like i'm waiting for the other shoe to drop - like i'm just putting in time before the big, ugly diagnosis hits and something tragic happens to one of my kids. it's sick, wrong and very unhealthy, but i'm hoping that writing about it will bring some perspective and peace.

it's 24 hours later - buck has a head cold. fever gone, no scarlet fever. he even chose to go to church and play practice yesterday. all of that worry and energy spent for nothing. hope posted a great nugget of truth yesterday on her blog:

I was reminded to use my energy to work on real problems, not the imaginary ones in my head. That was the nugget of truth I took with me as I left the meeting.
liam told me something he heard the other day - "worry is the misuse of imagination" - and i have far too little energy and way too much i want to be creative with to waste it on worry, right?

if i'm honest i'd have to admit that i also am waiting for a diagnosis for myself too. my friend anj and i have been dialogging about her new diagnosis or RUPUS (a rheumatoid arthritis form of LUPUS) and how that has brought a lot of emotion with it because it was what my mother had (minus the RA). i am 41. my mother died at 43. no one in my family makes it past 40 without a diagnosis of some sort. no one. RA, type 2 diabetes, cancer, etc - i come from a long line of very unhealthy people. if i am completely honest i would have to say that getting a diagnosis would at least feel like i'm past that part - like i know what's headed my way. it sounds so stupid, but i'm being honest. it's like knowing the name of the train thats going to hit you. what does it matter? is there even a train? i have never imagined that there wouldn't be. i have always, every day of my life imagined that i would not live a healthy adult life. yuck.

back in college i took the MMPI and the president of the college, who was teaching the class we took the test for said "if i didn't know you lived with a very sick mother i'd be worried." i guess i scored off the charts on "hypochondria" - it used to be a lot worse than it is now - but i think it is still a deep seated (seeded?) fear that i don't think i've acknowledged "out loud".

i know my father didn't think he'd live past 35 when his own father died (he was killed in a quarry accident) - so maybe this is "normal" (whatever that means) - or maybe i need to really talk about this and think about it and bring it into the light. my mom has been gone for 19 years. i was 21 when she died. my conscious memory with her is shorter than my conscious memory without her. in much of my active memory of her she was very sick.

being sick was a great way to get attention in my house growing up. it was also a good excuse to get out of work. i used sickness to cope for a lot of years. finally one day after i began to achieve some better tools and stronger mental health i realized a lot of the damage that was doing. "it wasn't working for me" anymore. so now i find i can hardly trust myself. am i sick? do i really feel horrible? or am i just trying to avoid something? i'm not a very good judge anymore.

but one thing i do know is that the energy i am burning up worrying about sickness, either in my loved ones or myself is a definite misuse of my wonderful imagination. energy i'd much rather pour into creativity, writing, art and life.

thanks for listening.


anj said...

Len's father died when L was nine, his father was 49. This past January, Len turned 50. He said he feels in many ways as if he has been holding his breath all his life, and how he can let it out. Each of his siblings have said much the same thing in different words. In my house, growing up, sickness was never an excuse; nobody could ever have been as sick as my sister, so how could we ever complain? Bringing that, in all its many faceted existence, into the Light has been Huge for me this year. I love how you finish this post - but one thing i do know is that the energy i am burning up worrying about sickness, either in my loved ones or myself is a definite misuse of my wonderful imagination. energy i'd much rather pour into creativity, writing, art and life. I don't know what that looks like for you, but I am holding that statement in the Light .

bobbie said...

thank you anj. i thought about you a lot while i was putting this post together. i hate this diagnosis. but the diagnosis doesn't "give you" rupus - it's just identifying what you've been living with for years. so i know that is a very good thing. but i hate it none the less.

having a sick sibling would definitely bring a whole new mix into navigating this. i'm so glad you have found healing in this area. i think sometimes just saying something "out loud" is important, and thus brings it into the light - and then it takes away it's shadow and reduces it back to it's normal size - and not the towering specter the shadow created.

Makeesha said...

your post has a psalm-like quality to it. i love the psalms for that.


my mom has had RA all my life. She was diagnosed in her 20s - - autoimmune disease is on my mind often but since having kids I think about them even more.

my peace reign in your soul.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a "healing" conversation. Bobbie, I don't deal with chronic illness, and have been blessed with mostly unlimited spoons (except for the HSP) but your post was extremely timely regarding worry. I don't tend to be one to worry, but just recently I have been plagued with insomnia and have been "wasting energy" on things I can't control. Thank you for this reminder, it was a gift to me today. Both you and anj continue to inspire me with your many words of wisdom. Here's to reducing those shadows to their normal size!


Hope said...

This post touched on a lot of raw spots for me. Some days I can laugh at my habit of worrying things to death and some days I just want to hug it tight.

Dearest one, youngest son and I all had mengingitis when youngest son was 10 months old. My worrying habit got so bad after that that when my kids were teenagers and said they had a headache they would lift their shirt to pretend show me their rash and then they would mock me and say their neck hurt. And on and on. That I can laugh at now. I guess I went overboard, hey?

I'm not a very good judge of my (or loved ones)health either. The other day I was saying something to my youngest son about the connective tissue disease he (and I) have when he looked at me and said I was very negative when it came to health stuff. And I knew in that moment that it was all too true that I can go on a head trip from an 'owie' to death in a nanosecond.

bobbie said...

makeesha - thank you, what a wonderful compliment. a psalm like quality - that is really sweet. my father has RA and is type 1 diabetic, and has been for most of my life. it's feels to me sometimes like a genetic roulette wheel sometimes doesn't it?

blair - that sleepless time sure can be a plague sometimes can't it? sometimes it is so peaceful and blessed and full of creativity for me - but there are those horrible times when it's just about fear. i'm so glad the post helped you too!

hope - i thought so much about you when i posted this too. i never want what i went through to sound like judgement and i pray none of this "touching of the raw" seemed like that at all. i wonder about the redemption that is happening/can happen because we each bring the other perspective to our conversation - mine as an adult child of a mother who was so sick, and your's as the mother who has the illness. it helps me so much to hear how hard it is for you living this life. i am reminded that my own mother probably felt the same exact frustrations. thank you.

Hope said...

No - none of the raw was because of any judgement, dear friend. It's just that I wish, I wish, I wish I knew what normal was when it came to health concerns. What stuff I need to see the doc about and what stuff I just need to let go of - that kind of thing. Even having a nurse for a husband hasn't really helped me find balance. Sigh.

wilsonian said...

I hope you see that you've already won a victory.

You're 41.

I can't understand the lingering worry that comes with your story, but perhaps there is room to celebrate this victory (or gift...).

judi said...

bobbie, i know what you mean about waiting for the other shoe to drop... my dad dropped dead suddenly at the age of 44, and i remember how eerie it was when i was 44 on the anniversary of his death. we've also lost 3 wonderful men in in our congregation in 4 months, and there are a few othes who have now found they have cancer.

interesting observation about wasting energy by worrying...what do the gospels say? what do we gain by worrying... shouldn't i know that by now??? sigh...