Archives for category: Arthritis

I refuse to allow a disability to determine how I live my life.

I don’t mean to be reckless, but setting a goal that seems a bit daunting actually is very helpful towards recovery.

Christopher Reeve 

REFLECTIONS

I Didn't Want This!

I Didn’t Want This!

ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS – the terrifying diagnosis

In 1983,  my Rheumatologist insisted I get a Handicapped Parking Permit for my car. She said I had to face facts. “You have a very serious disease that is chronic, debilitating and progressively degenerative.” She might as well have punched me in the heart with her fist. In fact, as I force myself to write these words, I feel a band of pain tightening around my head, and my blood pressure rising. My recollection of the rest of her speech that day and at most visits over the next 25 years went something like the following…”Ankylosing Spondylitis… that’s your disease. It’s a form of arthritis that can make joints swell to hideous sizes, while depositing calcium that eventually fuses the bones into an immobile, non-functioning joint.”  She then listed associated illnesses that can accompany AS! She said I may get: iritis, dactylitis, enthesitis, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis and a few other ‘itises’ (itis means inflammation). Shocked, I quit listening and began to fantasize about the sedating sugary junk I would eat when I left her office. To jolt me back to the ugly picture she was painting, she would pull out a few photographs, and lay them before me on her desk. 

Supposedly, my decline was predictable. She showed me a photo similar to the one below and said in 30 years, I would walk with a cane. Although she cautioned, a wheelchair was sometimes necessary.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis

RECLAIMING MY PHYSICAL BODY

So here I am, 30 years later, daring to dream about climbing Wilcox Pass in late June, to celebrate the Summer Solstice. My joints are far from perfect, but I am not using a wheelchair or a cane and can finally walk up and down stairs like an adult, not a child learning to walk…right foot up on step, left foot up on same step…etc. The purpose  of The Other Woman Blog has been to reclaim my life; emotionally, spiritually and physically. 3/4 of the year completed and I feel ‘whole – hearted’ with a connection to God/Cosmic Consciousness/Unified Field. But I shudder with fear at the thought of reclaiming my physical life. So here is what I have done to help move me towards my dream!

1. On Thursday, March 21st, I allowed the desire to climb Wilcox Pass register in my heart, not dismissing it instantly as I would have done in the previous 30 years.

2. I then had 2 sleepless nights, as I registered the fear I felt in agreeing to participate in a hike well beyond my present physical ability.

3. At the Spring Equinox Workshop on Saturday, I created a doll symbolizing the rebirth of my physical self! She represents my deep desire to move with wild abandon, like a cougar in the woods. She is the life that resides within me already, waiting for the governing controls I have placed on her to be removed, SO SHE CAN DANCE!!

 WHY I’M NOT DISABLED

 I am not disabled because I never believed I would be. Admittedly, I came very, very close to being crippled, but at some deep level of ‘knowing’, I felt I would find my way out of illness. I just needed someone else who believed I could make a difference in my health by healing my heart and my spirit. Of course this true healer is my Herbalist, Annette Bossert. Doctors are not educated to give credence to the power of belief. They observe a symptom, for example, a swollen knee, diagnose a disease and then offer a series of drugs, hoping the symptoms will be suppressed. And after many years of drug ‘therapy’ they suggest replacing the now non – functioning knee with a metal joint. This is not healing. A knee cannot be thought of as a flat tire. Nor would a flat tire improve if the car as a whole learned to express its feelings, or found loving occupants. The human body is not analogous to a machine. Car parts do break down, and the car as a whole is improved by a discrete repair or replacement. But the body is part of a synergistic whole, where emotional and spiritual experiences affect it, positively and negatively. Symptoms are meant to get our attention, to alert us to an imbalance, whether it’s emotional, physical or spiritual. It’s only since the Industrial Revolution that parallels were drawn between humans and machines!

If you click on the white sentence that follows, you will see an incredible 5 minute clip of Viktor Frankl describing the impact of our beliefs on an individual’s behaviourViktor Frankl talks about the power of belief!

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 38 OF 52

WILCOX PASS – DARE AN ARTHRITIC DREAM?

As I connect with my physical self, accepting my deep desire to move in sport, dance and play, I imagine I will begin to experience new levels of physical joy. I imagine I will ride my bike again, kayak in the ocean again, and hike in the hills and mountains again! As I remove the mental and emotional barriers to this dream, opening my heart to any hurdles, my body will respond accordingly!

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The First Component to the Law of Dharma is to Discover your True Self

Deepak Chopra

REFLECTIONS

Here it is Tuesday, and I am writing my Monday post…and I am happy about this. I wanted to just be in the presence of my daughters and my nephew over the last few days, writing when I could…accepting that I may miss my ‘self-imposed’ deadline… Fast Forward 2 minutes…serenity morphing into incredulity slipping towards outright rage as I look for what I had written last evening and realize it is GONE!  I did not save it correctly and so today, I will have to start from SCRATCH! NOW I AM BEING TESTED! Can I accept that I do not control my world, I merely live in it…and that maybe yesterday’s writing was just not meant to be posted?? I was so tired while writing last night that I almost felt stoned…I was waxing on about Siddhartha, and his belief that every person must create his own journey to ‘spiritual enlightenment’… each of us being such a unique individual that the path must be suitably personalized. Siddhartha accepted that his friend Govinda wanted to follow Buddha’s supremely wise philosophy, but that he, Siddhartha, wanted the freedom to choose his own path. I had been thinking about how unconventional…maybe even unorthodox my ‘path’ has been. Below is some of what I can recall…

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

MAKING A LIVING

In the past, when determining my level of success in this world, I relied on very masculine, achievement oriented, criteria. I would tally up my assets and accomplishments(including those of my children and husband-extensions of me )then add the people I knew, the places I had been, the knowledge I had  gleaned etc. In my mind I was ‘doing’ very well…making a very good living. I had achieved a high level of success in this material realm. My definition of success was supported by those around me, so it became nigh on impossible to knock me off its pursuit.

There was one area in my life I could not control or dominate… one area that brought me to my knees…and thankfully, eventually, to my senses. Only a power greater than my ego could successfully ‘de-smug’ me. I could not make my body cooperate with my life plan. I expected it to live up to my goals of perfection …I exercised maniacally, in leg warmers with matching leotards and scrunchies…I kept track of my BMI, while following various fad diets(the Adkins, the grapefruit etc.) all in the hopes of looking like Jane Fonda. At 29 I got my first nudge from the Universe, trying to knock me into balance by knocking me off balance….sudden vision and mobility issues…diagnosis… Ankylosing Spondylitis…which I ignored…I had a plan and a debilitating disease was not part of it.

MAKING A LIFE

1. EXPERIENCING EMOTION

I was never in awe of those artists who rendered realistic representations of life. This included technical musicians, writers of non-fiction, or photo-realism artists. Not that I didn’t appreciate the skill associated with a creation that deliberately portrayed reality as objectively as was possible…it’s more that I understood this type of depiction…linear, logical, accurate renditions of our material world…devoid of personal interpretation and emotion. This was all I ever experienced of our world…nothing spiritual, metaphysical or transcendental.

Conversely, I have always admired and envied those artists, writers and musicians who were expressionists…who created pieces in response to their inner emotions. Their work was unfathomable and perplexing, but in the artists’ efforts to express their emotion, a visceral response was elicited within me. In my desperation to experience my life emotionally, not just intellectually, I began to seek out Modern Art. Over the years I transitioned from The National Gallery in London to the Tate Modern.

2. FINDING MY VOICE

My only childhood experience with singing, was as a competitor in Festivals. My Mother spent so many hours perfecting my delivery that by performance day, it was no doubt difficult to discern whose voice you heard, my Mother’s or mine. I was an utterly traumatized singing mimic. Unfortunately mimicking appropriate behaviours became my modus operandi for all aspects of life. In the journey to finding my own voice, it was necessary to release the pain of this restrictive singing. My Herbalist, Annette Bossert, suggested I sing with Pamela Alexander, a trained practitioner who uses the techniques of The Naked Voice.(originated by Chloe Goodchild)

My very first encounter with Pamela occurred several years ago, when I visited her group in Calgary. Pamela led the singing as she played the Harmonium, while the attendees joined her in a ‘free voice’ style. Halfway through the first song, I began to tear up. I made every effort to CONTROL myself, but I couldn’t stop my tears. I had not cried in front of anyone, never mind 20 strangers, since I was 10. Mortified, I surreptitiously reached into my purse to grab a handful of kleenex. By the 3rd or 4th song, what I was doing could no longer be characterized as crying…I was weeping uncontrollably and unconsolably…like a child with a broken heart… Pamela stopped the singing and kindly asked if there was anything she  or the group could do to help me…resulting in me bawling even louder. I had never before experienced a human being with such an innate sense of compassion! Although I never stopped crying that evening, this group of caring people listened to me as I hiccupped and sobbed my way through an explanation for my tears. This beautiful singing, rich with harmonizing, chanting and drumming was the antithesis to my world of competitive voice production. Pamela’s belief was that in our singing with her, there were NO WRONG NOTES.

 I continued to sing with Pamela until the image I painted, symbolizing my voice, changed from a black box imprisoned behind bars, to a colourful and free bird. Singing freely, without judgement or correction, was a crucial step towards gaining the confidence to give voice to any idea I may have…point in fact…The Other Woman Blog!

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 22 OF 52

CHANGING FROM MAKING A LIVING TO MAKING A LIFE

Within me, as within each of us, a true self exists. Like the journey of Siddhartha, I have been on the road to materialism for some time. Only in unearthing my true and ‘higher’ self has my determination of what constitutes success changed. I believe each person’s path is unique and deserves to be sanctioned by all. No expression of the self is too wild or too bizarre!

So for week 22 of 52 I will continue to embrace my journey, in all its manifestations(including the inadvertent erasing of an entire post)…thus making a life, not just a living.

REFLECTIONS

I’ve had a week to ponder why I was drawn to an exploration of  the unified field theory of the world versus particle theory. Until now, I have found it somewhat comforting to embrace particle theory because it accounted for the physical phenomena in my environment. Objects are solid and inert, immobile and  stable and change only if something is done directly to them. No mystery here. Logical! If A=B and B=C then A=C  This works with numbers so I extrapolated this logic to the rest of my life. This is what particle theory has told me… everything can be explained. ..everything that happens is a result of direct, observable, analyzable, cause and effect.

Particle theory remains, not because it is accurate, but because I, like most, prefer theories that match my reality. If, as quantum physicists maintain, the world is one massive energy field, unifying absolutely everything and not a series of discrete parts, well, I can’t see, touch, count, weigh or measure that, no one can, so believing such a preposterous idea, would take a leap of faith. Maybe this is akin to the resistance the average person had, to the spherical world theory. Pythagoras postulated the earth as round in 570BC, but it took 20 centuries and a reality check (thanks Columbus) before the non-scientific community  would embrace a round world. Scientists today know Newton’s Theory is simplistic and incomplete (it can’t explain electricity or nuclear reaction), but the shift to believing the theory of Quantum Mechanics is slow for the rest of us.

I was going to send Alex Paterson a note of gratitude for his elucidation of the complex scientific theories of Newtonian vs Quantum Physics, but he deserves the full orchestration.

Embodying The Other Woman via PARTICLE THEORY

If I want to embody The Other Woman, I must first  identify her attributes and then, I must create a list of appropriate actions to achieve these attributes, and then I must execute these actions. BINGO!! I will be The Other Woman! Simply put, through the principle of cause and effect, I will transform.

So I began.

In July, when I launched The Other Woman Blog, I asked my delightful friend Suzanne for her help. We attended a Writers Workshop, abuzz with women. Independent of each other we tried to spot this alluring creature, The Other Woman. After some woman gazing and a discussion, we realized that Other Woman-ness was not easily quantifiable. Such a woman would possess an essence that we felt we would recognize when we saw it but she defied simple description. Intriguing to men and women alike, The Other Woman is so much more than a simple inventory of desirable traits.

So began my problem with Particle Theory. I needed specific attributes so that I could create my action plan. Would The Other Woman be thin, full-figured, or muscular? Different action plan for each of these. Would The Other Woman exude sexuality, sensuality or androgyny? Very different looks, very different action plans. Would she be high spirited or contemplative? Would she literally have to be someone’s mistress to possess The Other Woman energy? I felt deeply frustrated in my inability to quantify her characteristics. Without a list of qualities, I could not have a clear action plan, which meant defeat before I even started. This defeat forced me out of my comfortable world of the known, into the mystery of the elusive. Who exemplifies this enigmatic woman?

Embodying The Other Woman via Quantum Mechanics Theory

Does the image of Mona Lisa epitomize The Other Woman? She is often described as enigmatic or mystical, her image eliciting conversation 500 years after its creation by Leonardo Da Vinci. Her silent communication with her observer seems to welcome him/her into a place of unfathomable depth. Might a journey with Mona Lisa take one to places yet discovered? Just as the painting’s roads, river and mountain pass, have no clear end, neither can the journey of one’s life nor the journey with another. So I’ve begun to accept that The Other Woman is not a simple list of quantifiable characteristics. She has an unfathomable mystique, unique to each woman and discoverable through exploration of the mystery within oneself and the rest of the world.

Mona Lisa

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 10 OF 52

CHANGING FROM MEMOIR TO BLOGMOIR

Two years ago I met a lovely woman named Deb Dewar. She intrigues me because, without fail, I feel better about myself after being with her. The other day, she asked me what the impetus was for writing my Blog. I vacillated on what I would say, but finally decided on the truth.

Marital betrayal started my obsession with ‘the other women’. Years of anger, rage and feelings of unworthiness filled my life. These very negative emotions became the reality through which I saw the world, while my pride compelled me to project the persona of a happy, fulfilled woman. Denial is really much more than a river in Egypt! My obsession and my rage consumed me, resulting in me becoming extremely ill.

To release some of this pent up emotion, I wrote pages and pages in journals, with accompanying art work. After some years of Jungian analysis and more years with my Herbalist, Annette, I underwent a physical transformation. The debilitating arthritis that had crippled my body and made me blind subsided to a great degree. During my 5-6 year physical transformation, I was frustrated by the lack of memoirs detailing recovery from crippling arthritis. Books on cancer abound, but in reading these accounts, I found I didn’t relate. So I promised myself that I would write a memoir describing my path to the restoration of my life.

Although I have always wanted to be a writer, I have never written much other than To-Do lists and journal rants. Until 2 years ago,that is, when my husband, in a loving gesture of support, bought me $200.00 worth of  Elizabeth J. Andrew’s time. She is a Spiritual Memoirist. She is also that rare combination of intelligence, heart and beauty, and has gently guided me to myself in my writing.

Writing is a solitary endeavour and although I can happily spend more time alone than most, I needed a more interactive medium in which to write. I needed an audience!  In the many years of singing and reciting and accordion playing in festivals, the single event I loved participating in, was story telling. The only time the audience didn’t wince in empathy for my discomfort, was when listening to me recount “Bad Mousie” by Martha Ward Dudley! I loved telling this story!

My daughter has been writing her Blog, called dearandersoncooper, for some months. I liked the format, so under her guidance I launched my blog! I thought I’d coined the word Blogmoir, silly me…some young’n was there ages ago!

So for Week 10 of 52, I will write with honesty and remain open to the communiques from my soul and the ephemeral world!  The whole is so much more than a sum of its parts!

Between2Marys

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