Home is a good place to be.
There is a lot packed into that little statement for me. I have always enjoyed being "home". Especially when I was working, it just seemed that there was never enough time to just "be home". In fact, I used to always say that if I were independently wealthy and did not have to work I would be just fine finding plenty of things to do at home. The creative side of me had a never ending list of possibilities...cleaning (which I love doing), yard work, remodeling, baking, painting, writing, reading, running... the list goes on. Never enough hours in the day.
Becoming chronically ill has had an enormous impact on my "being home". For one, many of the things on my list of possibilities are, well, no longer possible. Two, other than getting out for doctor's appointments, hospitalizations and occasionally visiting family, I am pretty much stuck at home most days. Hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. And this winter seemed especially long. So when we made the decision to visit family in Florida, I could hardly get my bag packed quick enough.
And then reality sets in, and one quickly realizes the mixed blessing of going on vacation. Travel, for anyone with a serious health condition, presents a number of difficulties and potential problems. The simple act of packing alone becomes a major endeavor. What would have taken me an afternoon to accomplish now takes me days. And the question of "what if" becomes more serious than just preparing for a rainy day. Two days of my packing were consumed with documenting all of my doctors, their names and addresses and emergency numbers. I then needed to come up with a complete list of all medications (including brand names and dosages - of which there are thirty-three different ones), signed release forms and a copy of my living will. Between the medical paperwork, reservation confirmation papers, airline tickets and car rental information - we almost needed to pack a two drawer filing cabinet just to go! Add to the mix my difficulty keeping track of things and general state of "fog" and this part of the preparation becomes quite stressful.
Once the paperwork was taken care of, I then needed to organize my actual medications. Not only did I need to plan out each days hourly "cocktail", I needed to plan for emergency situations. Pain medications, muscle relaxants, anti-nausea medications, Epinephrine injections, inhalers, emergency steroid injection packs, pancreas and GI medications, laxatives and antibiotics...just to name a few. These are all the medications that I do not take on a daily basis, but are needed when things act up or I have an allergic reaction. Which could happen when I eat something or get too much sun. I carried my luggage on the plane to avoid the ridiculous baggage fees. I wonder what the TSA people thought as my bag passed by for their viewing pleasure!
Eventually I got to the issue of clothing. Trying to pack for hot weather, yet making sure to not expose too much skin presented a few challenges. I did find a nice cotton long sleeve blouse that I had stored away years ago that became my daily cover-up. Most days I have difficulty keeping warm, so this worked out perfect. And at night, I just covered up in blankets and towels.
Probably most difficult of all are the actual days of travel. There were a couple of times this go around that I simply felt like traveling was not an option for me any more. I forget how much time I spend sitting or laying down while at home. If you think about it, once you make your way into the airport you are in a constant state of motion. Because I deal with extreme fatigue issues, simple tasks like pulling a suitcase or going through the TSA check point (lifting things on to the belt, taking off all your "stuff", gathering things all back up again) or walking half a mile to a gate are completely overwhelming. Once I reach that point of exhaustion, my ability to think clearly becomes significantly reduced. Keeping track of my ticket, driver's license, cell phone and everything else that needed to be emptied into a container became a task that left me right on the edge of panic. If these were the days when my children were younger, I truly believe that traveling in this way would not be a possibility for me. Thankfully, Dave and the kids were always one step ahead of me and there to help whenever I needed it. Often times offering before I even asked. I am so fortunate to have such a compassionate family. Where thinking of others is something that comes natural. Kids, I am so very proud of you!
One of the things that made this vacation a success for me was my ability to let go of expectations. Last year when we brought the kids down to Florida I really struggled with being depressed. I think that somewhere in the back of my mind I had this unrealistic expectation that I would miraculously feel better once we arrived. It kind of reminded me of the first Christmas that I did not receive any toys as a kid. All excited and then somewhat let down by the reality of it all. Being grown up isn't as much fun as I thought it was. Well, being on vacation when you are sick is still "being sick". What I needed to do, and what I was successful at doing this time was letting go of what I had experienced in the past as well as letting go of what I expected the vacation to be. It really was a gift to me this year. I think I am finally reaching a certain level of consciousness. I am able to purposefully decide what kind of relationship I am having with the present moment. Do I want the present moment to be my friend or my enemy? The present moment is inseparable from life, so by being conscious in it, I allow myself to make the call as to what kind of relationship I want to have with it. The minute I make the decision to be friendly to the present moment - aware and thankful - my life changes. One little decision changes my entire reality.
J. Krishnamuriti was a great Indian philosopher and spiritual teacher. He spoke all over the world for more than 50 years attempting to convey through words this concept that is really "beyond words". At one of his talks towards the end of his life he surprised his audience by asking them if they wanted to know is secret to life. It is said that everyone became very excited and alert to finally know this master's key to understanding. "This is my secret," he said. "I don't mind what happens." I'm sure that there are many people that did not understand this - maybe even more confused than they were before. And quite possibly you are thinking the same thing. But to me, this statement is SO profound. When I don't mind what happens, that means I am in total alignment with what "is". To be in a relationship with what "is" means to be in a relationship of inner nonresistance with what happens. It means to not label anything as good or bad, but to let it be. Of course, it does not mean I no longer take action to bring about change in my life. Quite the contrary. When the basis of my action is in alignment with the present moment, then my actions become empowered by the intelligence of reality - of Life itself. And making decisions based on reality are always much better for you than making decisions based on illusion.
|"I don't mind what happens."|
|The kids resting in the shade with me.|
I have everything I need.
I dedicate this post to my wonderful husband, who, by his unfailing love, endless patience and hard work made this vacation possible for me...and for all our kids. Thank you honey, for taking such good care of us.
I love you.
|My husband, David.|