True, I haven’t been writing here nearly as much as I would like to. This is due to several reasons; much of it may be because I’m not a champion in the important discipline of being organized. I have yet to learn to use my time more efficiently so as to get all of my work (jobs & household) done and have more time for family, friends and things I like to do, such as reading, writing or learning to play the flute.
Another reason is also my failing health. I’ve been having issues for years, but the last months have been rather intense – seeing doctors, going to hospital a few times, x-rays and MRI’s. Now I got a diagnosis, and yesterday I got new meds in addition to the ones I have to take already.
I’ve been slowly getting fed up with seeing doctors, and when I looked at all the meds I have to take now during the day, I felt like crying. I don’t want to have to take all this stuff. Yet at the same time I reminded myself to be grateful. I am blessed: I’m living in a country where I have health insurance and access to doctors and medication. Even if sometimes it is expensive, I do have access and get what I need. Many people in the world don’t have that – either because there simply aren’t any doctors and meds available, or because they can’t afford it. Friends from the U.S. come to mind.
With the diagnosis (nothing fatal, I assure you; yet, chronic) I am something between worried and scared about how my future will be and, that of my family. I am afraid of becoming burden one day. I am afraid of disappointing others because I am not as strong and alert as I used to be.
I started reading a great little book a couple of days ago. The title right out caught my attention: Facing Illness, Finding God (How Judaism can help You and Caregivers cope when Body or Spirit fails), by Rabbi Joseph Meszler.
So far, it has been a good and easy read – nothing world-shaking or deeply theological, but practical advice that can literally make the difference in day-to-day living. In one short chapter, he underlies the importance of the idea that disease happens because we’re living in an imperfect world, and not because we sinned in some way, and that the illness would be consequence or punishment for sin; or that we, in some way, deserve our disease, knowingly or unknowingly. This chapter touched me deeply, that I have yet to integrate its message – after yearlong “indoctrination” my gut reaction to things going bad is to wonder what I have done wrong and why I deserve what is happening.
Another point is accepting help when you need it. I have no problems with helping others, but am easily embarrassed when I need help. And if my illness will keep progressing the way it does, I will need help sooner or later. Needing help and accepting help actually takes as much strength as helping, and is nothing to be ashamed of.
“Complete healing is as much about completeness as it is about healing”. Seen this way, even if there is no healing to my affection, I can be complete the way I am. Being sick doesn’t diminish me – even though physically, I may often feel diminished – it doesn’t take away an inch of my dignity. I was created “good” and remain so. Though it is legit to be sad, and even angry about what is happening and needing to mourn certain things and activities, Rabbi Meszler stresses that stinking thinking and bitterness are not an option; rather, this formidable pair risks to invade and color every part of my life: “Trying to focus on goodness and what we love, even when things are bad, can create a sense of uplift”.