Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Feel The Burn

I just returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic. My parents brought the family together to spend time together and celebrate us as a family. The trip was fantastic! It’s great when you can spend time with people you love, know, and have your back. Being with people who are a lifeline reinforces our connection beyond our bodies. It provides us with a context for our lives and allows us to practice the art of giving and receiving.

I’m a water baby. I’m a cancer so I love the water. I lived on the east coast the first twenty-five years of my life, and the west coast the next fourteen years. Access to the water is life affirming. Currently I live in the Rocky Mountains at six thousand feet so any time I can see the ocean I’m ecstatic.

Ecstasy has its price. Upon getting to the beach I submerged myself in the ocean. I was in the water for quite a while. My family joked that if they wanted to visit with me they’d have to go to my office in the water. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

I knew I was sunburned even though I had on sunscreen. I didn’t reapply often enough and wasn’t wearing a shirt so my shoulders and upper back became sunburned. Actually, they became more than sunburned because after leaving the water the blisters began to appear. My back and shoulders were covered with blisters waiting to burst. I did this to myself and that pissed me off, but I couldn’t turn back the clock.

I wore multiple shirts keeping the blisters clean and dry. The big surprise when it was time for bed. As I tried to sleep the pain was excruciating. I changed positions trying to relieve the pressure on the blisters but my body was in full revolt. I was no longer in control, my body was at the reins and it wasn’t pretty. I needed a plan, a solution, a resolution to the pain.

I realized that the only way to get out of the pain was to go into the pain. I had to immerse myself in the pain. I had to be one with the pain. I dove in! As I was sitting up in bed I befriended the pain. I was focusing on my breath and settled down living in the journey. Trust me it wasn’t easy, but it did quiet my mind and my body. My body understood that although I had accosted it; I was trying to make amends. I wasn’t ignoring my body (not that I could even if I tried), but I was in the trenches experiencing the pain from the pain’s point-of-view.

This journey lasted for three nights. Unlike many of you experiencing chronic pain, mine was time limited. I did learn valuable lessons. I learned that my body, mind, and spirit working together create amazing results. I gave myself the gift of diving deep and emerging with a new understanding of pain and it’s relation to my body. I have come to appreciate the unity of merging with the what’s going on in my body.

Fortunately the experience didn’t damper my trip at all. I got back in the water after a few days very protected and for a very short period of time, but I also know that salt water heals the skin. In my case it heals the body, the mind, and the spirit. I not only had a fabulous trip with my family, but I learned new things about my own capacity for renewal and resiliency. I learned new ways of coping when facing adversity. I have a new appreciation for what the body can handle!

Diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

See how Art impacts Healing, visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

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