Messages from the Sick Bed

I basically lost the whole month of April 2016. I got the flu at the beginning of the month and then it went down hill from there. I got the flu that then turned into bacterial bronchitis and then into a double ear infection. For someone who never gets sick, it was so bizarre to me. I had a fever on and off for over 10 days where I would drench the sheets with my sweat. I could not breathe and coughed constantly to the point that I pulled muscles in my body due to the coughing. All and all it took 3 different antibiotics, prednisone, codeine cough medicine, and an inhaler to finally get my body to start to heal and recover. I spent about 20 days in bed. I would get up occasionally but was too sick and weak to be out of the bed. This was by far the longest and sickest I had ever been in my life. So I knew this was much more than a physical issue. There was a lot for me to learn from my “sick bed.”

The biggest take-away from my illness is how illness can alter your identity. When I was sick, I could only see myself as sick, weak, and a victim. I would often cry and feel helpless and out of control. Everything that was important to me no longer mattered. All that consumed me was how I was feeling in that very moment. My husband, yoga, my business did not matter. The only thing that mattered was being well. What I was doing was saying “something is wrong and needs to be fixed now.” I, of course, ┬álive by the motto and┬áconstantly coach people that, “there is nothing wrong and nothing to fix.” So this was completely the opposite of how I live my life.

After about 10 days, I started to realize that this illness was more than my body saying it is time to slow down or we are going to do it for you. I realized this was an opportunity to learn a lot like any other challenge I have faced. At that point, I stopped resisting what was and started to open myself up to the messages I was meant to receive. The first was very loud and clear, “I can not be of service to others if I do not make myself a priority.” I have heard this more than one hundred times from family, friends, and mentors. Now I believe it to be my truth.

Another realization was that being sick for so long affects how you see yourself. When sick for a period of time, you feel like a different person or an alien has taken over your body. You do not feel like you. I have a deeper understanding of this and so much empathy and compassion for people with chronic pain and chronic or life-threatening illnesses. I am very aware that I dealt with this for only 3 weeks compared to people who have life-long illnesses. Nevertheless, I believe that your identity can be significantly impacted by an illness/injury.

Finally, the amount of gratitude I have for my life is immense. I am typically a grateful person who feels blessed everyday to be alive. Since being sick, I feel even more grateful for my life and my health. It is as if I am seeing the world differently. I guess I am because I am different. Taking a walk, going to the beach, being able to sleep restfully are all things I am grateful for. This illness has made my heart grow ten-fold. Every time I think of everything I am grateful for, I can feel my heart in my chest and I start to tear up. In yoga, we call it being “Lit Up” because you are beaming with energy and joy. If I had not been as sick as I was, I would not feel as grateful and lit up as I do now.

So from the mud grows the lotus flower. Cliche, I know, but oh so true.