It's been years since I kept this blog up regularly. Crises in physical and mental health developed both for me and for family members and posting didn't seem important. Or possible.
In the spirit of new beginnings, here are ten things to introduce myself to new, returning, or long-time readers:
1. My hysterical illness finally got a few official and semi-official diagnoses, including Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Migraine and several other kinds of headaches, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia, Thyromegaly, traumatic brain injury, Temporal-Mandibular Joint Syndrome, PTSD, and Dissociative Disorder. There are probably a few others that have got overlooked. For example, I'm fairly certain I have Sjrogren's Syndrome, Dysautonomia, and an autoimmune thyroid disorder.
2. Medical professionals, conventional and holistic, have been uniformly unhelpful at best and downright damaging far too often. I've lost count of how many and what kinds of doctors I've seen. I found the NAET therapist extremely helpful until we uncovered some deep trauma layers in my psyche and abruptly we were outside the therapist's comfort zone, although he refused to admit any such thing. I stayed with him for months longer than I should have. The Doctor of Oriental Medicine, who used acupuncture, reiki, and other energy modalities, did the most good, not especially curative but kept me alive and functioning while I slowly found my own healing protocols. She was useful for acute care as well and I stayed with her for three years, only recently moving on. Her business partner, a chiropractor, was enormously helpful as well but less for her chiropractic than for her weird energy work--the name of which I never can remember. Through her work, the bones in my skull and face shifted significantly, allowing some healing of nearly fifty year old injuries, and reducing TMJ and migraine symptoms a great deal. I don't see her regularly anymore, only a few times a year for "tune-ups." My yoga teacher also facilitated a lot of healing simply by the kind of environment she created during Restorative and Yin classes.
3. Surrendering to the illness rather than fighting against it has been an important and ongoing aspect of creating health, if not curing any disease. Taking to my bed and staying there, admitting to myself and others when "normal" was beyond my capacity, learning to accept and live within the new limits allows me actually to accomplish a few things in a way that wasting all my energy on trying to be who and what I used to be could never do. Submitting to illness as a teacher, an agent of grace, rather than a demon to be destroyed, changes the whole paradigm.
4. Therapies and therapeutics that have produced real and sustainable curative results for me include shamanic journeying, homeopathic adrenal supplementation, constitutional homeopathy (self-prescribed, practitioners were not helpful), Low Dose Naltrexone, the Fuck It Diet, aggressive resting and following a heart-rate based exertion program, meditation and chanting, and Restorative and Nidra yoga.
5. I am still committed to finding a place in the Christian community. I still think in Christian. Christian metaphor still resonates in my soul in a way no other tradition's stories or vocabulary does. I will never be a conventional Christian, being a heretic is as much a part of me as being a Christian, maybe more. I am, however, determined to forge or find a space to bring together the ancient traditions of Christianity with modern applications. We needn't be syncretic with Buddhism or neopaganism (such syncretism isn't wrong but isn't necessary) to find meditation, magic, mysticism, contemplation, or apotheosis.
6. To that end, between relapses last year, I began facilitating a chant class at my yoga studio. I had to drop it last spring but I hope to revive it locally and in person as my health permits, online in podcasts or Skype groups if it does not (and even if it does). Ideally, I'd like to be able to facilitate chant groups in hospitals and VA centers for the very ill, the disabled, the traumatized. I see its importance for spiritual healing far outweighing its utility for the trendy yoga studio seeker.
7. My kids have grown up since my earlier writing. I'm no longer homeschooling except in the most legal and supervisory definition. My older daughter chose to attend public high school, graduated with honors and moved across the country to go to a private liberal arts college where she continues to swim competitively and aims eventually to physical therapy school. My younger daughter attends community college and is dual enrolled at cosmetology school. I still supervise her registration, sign her enrollment forms, and help as requested with papers (dyslexia is still a challenge), but I am no longer directly involved. She's also been a professional actor for several years. It still seems strange to think that what was such a huge part of my life is now over, but I also heave a sigh of relief to be finished. I don't regret it for an instant--and, thankfully, neither of my kids does either--but it was a lot of work for which I'm glad no longer to be responsible.
8. Due to injury and illness, I can no longer read books. At least 95% of my reading is through the Kindle app on my iPhone. While I am deeply grateful to have that option, since I dislike audio books, I miss the smell, the look, the feel of holding a book in my hands. I miss shopping at used bookstores and trolling library stacks. And I really hate paying the digital prices for books. I thought I spent a lot of money on books until I started buying ebooks at retail prices--criminey!
9. Chronic illness is isolating and annihilating. Even for persons not housebound or confined to bed as I usually am, illness forces an identity change. It demands consideration of existential questions of meaning, individual value, community, and purpose. Whether one faces these questions head on or ducks continuously to the side of them, they change a person. Chronic illness means facing one's death in a society that spends a great deal of effort to deny death.
10. Writing this post taxed me so much, I can't even think of a number ten. I'll just hit publish and have a little lie-down.