Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who is that Girl, Again?

It's funny how life likes to throw a curve ball, just to make sure you're still paying attention in the game. This winter has been one of many challenges, beginning with hitting that tree in December and then just rolling from there. Whole weeks went by where I lived moment to moment because, quite frankly, I wasn't sure if I would be easy breathing in the next. Asthma has a sneaky way of making a person come completely into the present. I stopped thinking ahead, stopped planning. I tagged the line, "...if I can breathe" to the end of every sentence, "Yes, we can go shopping on Sunday, if I can breathe."

It came on me suddenly, even though the propensity had apparently always been there, lurking, for years. Asthma and Allergies, completely new, utterly unwelcome ways in which to define myself.

The trouble is, I do sit well with definitions I don't like. If I have Allergies and am as highly allergenic as they say, my whole life could be cast in shadow: no more long walks through rippling fields, no more laying in the grass chewing on the long end of a stem, no more romping with the dogs, hauling hay for the horses, no more running over wooded paths unless the mold count is down. Stretched out before me, my new life looked like a desert, vast and wide and utterly empty of all the things green and beautiful, things I truly loved.

Indeed, it didn't sit well. I had to ask, if not that wild nature girl, then who am I? If I can't do those things I love, what can I do?

I looked deep into the darkest corner of my soul and found me sitting there, just as calm and peaceful as you please, sitting still and quiet in that close, cool darkness, all soaked up with the essence of me. That was when I knew, I can never be other than what I am. I've lived for forty years with all these things they now call Allergies and Asthma. Yes, I have had moments of highly atypical skin conditions, random joint swelling, abdominal irritability, headaches, pain, general irritability, and exhaustion. When the doctor asked my symptoms and I told him, he wondered why I hadn't mentioned them to other doctors before. I had but they couldn't find what was wrong with me and anyway, over time, "sick" became my normal.

Now, I have gone full circle, through normalcy, into pain, illness, diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and now back to what I know as normal. I have a lot of allergies, according to my very reliable forearms. I could take that information and no one would blame me if I opted out off the natural world and chose instead to lock myself away in a plastic bubble. I might attain something like wellness if I did that, but what kind of a well would it be? Would I be happy? Would I have a life I actually wanted to live? Would I have love?

A recent study has proven vitamin D is highly effective in mitigating asthma and allergy symptoms. So effective, in fact, they are now recommending we allergenics not stay inside, theoretically safe in our plastic houses, but that we get outside, strip down as much as we dare, and let that hot sun soak into all the surfaces of our skin. When you haven't been out in a while, the sun is like warm honey pouring over you. It is sensuously wonderful; it feels so good. And the soft murmuring of the leaves sounds like an endearment, as if they are rustling just for you.

I sat on my deck, having gotten the unofficial go-ahead to get out there and soak up some D and just looked at my natural world, the squirrels chasing each other irately through the branches, the butterflies drifting wonkily around the lilacs, those bright green leaves, bending and tipping waving at me in the breeze. I fell in love, in that punch-drunk kind of way that hits you sometimes. I could feel that thick, warm emotion coursing through me. All my aching muscles and even the blood in my veins relaxed. I settled deeper in my chair, and fell back in to wonder.

As every asthmatic will likely tell you, things trigger an attack. Once you learn what your triggers are, you can begin to get a grip on a very uncontrollable, often terrifying situation. One of my triggers is stress, if I get freaked out enough, you can bet I'm going to end of having trouble breathing. This was perfectly apparent during the day we took my daughter in for an emergency appendectomy. That's some stress, I can tell you, having your daughter become violently ill, then rushing her to the hospital--one hour away-- then having her operated on all within an eight hour period. This adventure began at eight in the morning, I stopped breathing normally by about two o'clock.

It makes you wonder, though, if you stop and think about it. If stress can have this great physiological impact, could not the opposite of stress work in reverse? Could sitting still, perfectly relaxed and deeply in love with anything at all make your lungs, as well as your heart, expand? It made me wonder and it made me make some solid decisions.

None of us ever know exactly how long we will have on earth and we are all given the glorious freedom to do what we wish with the time we do have. I could hole myself up in my house, make every person entering wash the pollen and dander and mold spores and dust mites off their bodies before hugging me, and keep my life pritinely sterile.

Or I could live, just as I always have, embracing every part of my world with two arms wide. I could inhale every moment of my life deeply. I could work myself to the bone in my garden and then sit, tipsy-in-love, letting all those good hormones work their magic.

In the end, in the very, very end, I have found, I'm just still me, same as I always was and I will do what comes naturally to me, what lets me remember deep peace and thick love.

I am wishing the same for you.

Peace, Love, and Blessings,

La