A Love Letter from My Hospital Bed

After a frightening ER visit with violently shaking chills, chest pain, and difficulty breathing earlier this month, my long-running record of avoiding hospitalization was finally wrecked. I was not only admitted, but also kept for a 5-night stay.

As if that weren’t scary enough on its own, it all happened exactly one week before I was scheduled to have the PICC removed from my arm and discontinue IV antibiotics. Just my luck!

The usual “disaster mind” inner dialogue was well underway before I made the decision to seek emergency medical attention:

“They’re going to tell you everything is fine and it’s just anxiety.”

“They’re going to balk at this ‘Chronic Lyme Disease’ diagnosis.”

“They’re going to flip about you having that PICC for so long.”

“They’re not going to listen or understand, and they’re probably going to make you even sicker.”

“Your insurance company may very well deny this claim, too. Then what?”

Many of those fears did in fact come to fruition, but it was a very good thing I opted to confront them. As I lay there, several hours later, with the news that a potentially deadly bacterial infection had been found in my bloodstream and that I apparently was damn lucky I came in when I did, I noticed a more sinister mental chatter beginning to emerge:

“You can’t tell anyone about this. They’re going to assume you created it because they were right all along about you being attached to your illness.”

“You know, maybe you actually did create this. Why else would it be happening so close to the end of your treatment plan?”

“You should have tried more herbs. Why did you ever back down from your anti-pharmaceutical stance and agree to the extensive, very expensive antibiotic therapy?”

“It’s all your fault. You should have maintained a stricter diet.”

“You look like an idiot. Everything you’ve been through and all that money you’ve spent may have been a waste.”

Even though I’d devoted so much effort to dispelling these unhelpful assertions from others, it was evident that I’d still been poisoning myself with them all along.

But with my body in sepsis and my spirit at its weakest, something shifted. I somehow mustered the strength to say, “ENOUGH!”

And I meant it.

The words that came to me in that moment were shared on my personal facebook page and sparked a surprising revelation:  that I was not alone in my habit of bullying myself with these so-called “holistic wellness” and “spiritual” thoughts.

A slew of comments and private messages filtered in from friends and acquaintances with whom a nerve had been struck. Reading confession after confession about deep-rooted fears of serious illnesses and dangerous consequences–and the crippling shame that was thwarting further actions toward dealing with them–I knew I’d stumbled upon something that would demand a lot more of my attention.

In the meantime, while I’m home resting up, I wanted to share those words with you here in case you too could use some peace and courage (and perhaps a gentle kick in the pants) in the face of bodily challenges.

A Love Letter from My Hospital Bed | Jill of ArkA Love Letter
from My Hospital Bed

If your body is calling out to you, pay attention and respond. If you can’t hear it clearly or don’t know how to respond, find someone who does, even if you have to fight like hell to get them to listen to you first.

Do not just push though it.

Do not “self-medicate” unless you possess the thorough expertise required to safely do so.

And do NOT under any circumstances neglect your body on behalf of your mind under the assumption that your ailments are signs of spiritual malady or other self-perpetuating errors.

These behaviors are not only neglectful–they are *stupid.* (There, I said it. I’m done being polite about this crap.)

Strength does not equate to invulnerability, nor does struggling in any way strip you of your strength.

Spirituality and positive thinking, when wielded appropriately, can be powerful tools for empowerment and self-care. They are not, however, shields you can duck behind and pretend the rest of the world does not exist.

The only thing you can control is how you choose to respond in every moment. Sometimes, the best choice is to accept the help you cannot give yourself.

November 13, 2016

I am filled with profound gratitude for this experience, which seems to have set me forward in my recovery rather than prolonging it–I’m feeling better than I have in months! Had this infection not surfaced and landed me in the hospital before my PICC was taken out according to plan, no one would have thought to look for it until far more serious complications were triggered.

Good fortune doesn’t always appear the way we’d expect it to, and that’s all the more reason why we need to stop setting such impossible standards.

Personal Life and Spiritual Coaching | Jill of ArkIs this a topic that speaks to you, too?
I may be able to offer some support through
life and spiritual coaching.

Since I’m intimately familiar with the
financial turmoil that accompanies chronic illnesses
and other serious medical conditions,
I reserve a few coaching spots at a sliding-scale rate.

Please reach out and we’ll make it happen.

Comments are closed.