It was a gray morning and the air was soft. My daughter and I cruised the streets of Tarrytown, a charming old neighborhood minutes from downtown, looking for a place to stop for coffee. I looked at the street sign ahead of me but it appeared out of focus, as if I had just removed my glasses. I scanned for other markers, words and pictures, near and far, but the world moved further and further away. It happened so quickly. Within a few minutes my vision was so markedly impaired I had to pull over, no longer able to drive. By the end of the day, I could not see the TV or my smartphone. 

For the next several weeks I was completely dependent on my husband for support. I couldn’t drive or read and I was uncomfortable in public places because I couldn’t make out peoples faces or read signs anymore. My life changed in a split second and in a huge and sudden way. I saw two specialists and was diagnosed with Iritis. It typically lasts for weeks and often recurs. There is no treatment but steroids are often prescribed to prevent permanent loss of vision. It is often associated with Lyme Disease.

Lyme is like that. It is wildly unpredictable. It can be terrifying and sudden like it was that day when when my daughter and I were carefree and driving aimlessly on a pretty day just looking for a place to stop for coffee. Lyme, because of the absolute necessity to wrap your arms around something that is impossible to predict and difficult to treat, can also give birth to a your soul work because it becomes necessary to reconsider everything you took for granted and everything you thought you knew to be true. Here are a few lessons I learned from the experience.

  • Cultivate a habit of looking at these situations as opportunities to choose the relationship you will have with whatever it is that is creating any uncomfortable feelings for you. For me, that means trying to stay awake and open for the best way to support myself in these challenges. It is an ongoing process.
  • Choose empowering language. Do not identify as a patient. Do not identify with your symptoms or labwork. Allow that information to guide your healing but do now own your illness. You are so much bigger than what is happening to your body. Your cells are listening. Find the warrior story. Defy the odds. Fight back. Believe in your body’s ability to heal.
  • Remind yourself that this too shall pass. A tidbit of wisdom from the Bible.
  • Notice and name your feelings. Instead of identifying with “fear”, as in “I” am afraid, try noticing and naming your feelings. So that, for example, instead of “I am afraid” say instead, “this energy I am feeling is the energy of fear.” This is a Buddhist practice that has been very helpful to me.
  • When I have especially challenging days or weeks in the past, all of my “stuff” shows up, as in fears of being abandoned and general feelings of being unsupported or misunderstood. The simple truth is that the only thing that is ACTUALLY happening is that I feel terrible, but the monkey-mind runs amuck, spinning tales of woe. Those stories only make you feel worse. Stick with what is actually happening.
  • Find something to appreciate. On days where I sit comatose for hours in front of a TV with no idea of what I am watching, I can still appreciate that my legs work, even if they don’t want to. Sometime the best I can do is to help with housework, even if that only means emptying the dishwasher. Today, I may be unable to run errands but I can appreciate the opportunity to write.
  • Be sweet with yourself. I thank my hilarious and supportive Pilates instructor for reminding me of this over and over again. I was always trying and striving and researching and pushing myself to get better and to be better. Now I try to be sweet with myself in whatever way makes sense on any given day but this usually means just being okay with where I am on any given day.
  • Share honestly when you need help. What do you need today? Learn to ask for support.
  • Treat  yourself to flowers. Pick them or ask someone to do it for you. Find ways to bring beauty into your space. Go outside. Drink tea on a pretty china. Have a cookie. The little things are always the big things.
  • Breathe ~ Rest ~ Pray  ~ Meditate ~ Trust.

Be proud of the warrior spirit required when facing life’s greatest challenges!

Love, light, healing ~


Words, Well Scent

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