Where We’ve Been
Well folks, here we are – at the not-so-real end of this journey. I suppose we are simply at the end of this blog series since my actual journey will last my lifetime. We’ve been through a lot on this journey, you and me.
We’ve looked at the possibility that food allergies were causing my crazy symptoms.
We’ve discussed responsibility.
We’ve even looked at the not-so-real psycho-social condition ‘North American Woman Syndrome’ I posited as a possible cause.
We’ve talked about doctors and how to deal with them.
Where We Are
It’s been a hell of journey, let me tell you! I’m not out of the woods yet, but I believe it’s time to bring this blog series to a close and to focus on bringing in stories from other people about their own #healingjourneys.
At present, I exist on a teeter-totter of physical health which, I believe, could tip in one direction or the other with the slightest of movements. Trust me, neither direction is a good one – both represent illness. The perfect place to be is right here, in this balance I have found.
I am feeling a LOT better than in months gone by. Regardless of doctors who were unable to find anything wrong with me, I have managed to turn this around.
If I hadn’t walked away from my doctor, seething as he stole my last ounce of faith in typical Western medical practice, the next step in the diagnostic process would have been to visit a rheumatologist. Many of you wonder why that wasn’t one of the first places I was sent to begin with. I must say I liked that my doctor wanted to rule out anything “curable” before chalking it up to an autoimmune issue and washing his hands of me.
Still, we all knew that the highest likelihood was that this had something to do with inflammation and the immune system going haywire. I mean, come on, what other sorts of problems react to things like environmental stress, pollution, and food allergies?
So I stepped out. I knew that there were no real answers for me at the rheumatologist. He or she might be able to throw a label at these problems but it wouldn’t be one that they could “cure,” only one that they could “medicate.” I didn’t want to be medicated.
So where did that leave me? It left me with a huge pile of responsibility sitting squarely in my lap.
<– this is me when I realized a doctor wasn’t gonna’ fix me
So there I was. Paying lip-service to all of this “reduce your stress levels” stuff by blogging about it and putting a few self-care measures into place, but never really fully committing myself to the idea that I did, in fact, have the power to fix this all – to turn it all around.
Self-care on the surface level – on the level of having a bath to relax after a hard work week or of setting decent boundaries with the people around me in terms of chores and other surface things is just that – its ALL SURFACE.
It reminds me of what my massage therapist told me the last time I saw her. She said, “Putting the heating packs on your shoulders while you sit at the computer is good, but it’s only maintenance. It’ll stop it from getting worse but it’s not going to fix the cramping and headaches.”
What a great metaphor for my entire life! There was much more work to be done than simply setting a few solid boundaries and indulging my sweet tooth every now and then. There was even more to do than committing myself to regular meditation and mindfulness exercises.
I needed to break down the walls I had built in my life. I needed to stop trying to be Super Woman (or Super TALL Woman, as Nathalie calls me). I needed to start asking for more of what I want and start putting up boundaries around the things I am and not willing to do to help other people.
Long story short, I needed to fight back against North American Woman Syndrome (someone medical/psychological please research this for me, I really believe I’m onto something here).
Where We’re Going
I’m not CURED. There are still aches and pains. There are still stomach problems. The food allergies (as I have sadly noticed through experimentation) are real and probably aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
I am, however, beginning to really believe that my future is bright and is filled with all those things I worried I couldn’t do. I just have to make sure that I stay on top of my health and accept that I can’t do everything for everyone always.
I’m not sure whether this is the result of years of being too many things for too many people, or the result of constant, repetitive trauma, constant stress, some sort of genetic or brain disposition to having a lower threshold for stress or a combination of all of these things. What’s important, though, is that I now know how to handle and I can use my flare-ups as strong indicators that there are things in my life which need serious attention and that I must allocate the proper resources to those things and the recovery from those things.