Thursday, April 12, 2012

Take Your Time, Part I

I had a client who developed a benign cyst on one of her fingers. It posed no health risk but interfered with her tennis games, so she had it removed. It grew back. So she had it removed again. But it grew back. After that she upped the ante by having her finger amputated. She adapted quickly and was back to tennis after a few months. I haven't seen her in awhile but I always wonder if the cyst came back on another finger or if that was the end of it. I guess I'll never know since she moved away from DC.

Within illness and injury of any kind, there is an opportunity to work through something, an opportunity to learn, to become wiser, more compassionate, kinder. Illness and injury sometimes bring out the very best in people, sometimes not of course, but it is possible. Coincidence or bad luck must certainly play a part in illness - almost always in injuries, but the accidental causes of illness and injury are not interesting, at least to me. The timing is, certainly.

When I'm ill or injured and hence suffering, what I want is to make the pain, ache or bruise GO AWAY as fast as possible, of course. Who enjoys suffering? But sometimes I think whatever is going on deserves to express itself before I put the kibosh on it. Sometimes! When I lapsed into anaphylaxis a couple of years ago, that was not a great opportunity to let my body express itself. But with more chronic, non-threatening situations, it can be interesting to explore, wonder and experience the sensations that accompany illness or injury, and how those sensations shift as we recover.

I am a big fan of Kat Duff's book, "The Alchemy of Illness." She had chronic fatigue syndrome, probably caused by Lyme. She was sick for more than ten years. She wrote not only about chronic fatigue, but about great artists and writers who came up with their best ideas while ill. She spoke of the cleansing aspects of fever, the insights revealed in dreams that unravel during long sleeps, and the spaciousness we can hardly ever experience except when we're too sick to do anything but rest. Here's a little blurb about the book:

Illness is a universal experience. There is no privilege that can make us immune to its touch. We are taught to assume health, illnesses being just temporary breakdowns in the well-oiled machinery of the body. But illness has its own geography, its own laws and commandments ... Duff, a counselor in private practice in Taos, New Mexico, wrote this book out of her experience with chronic fatigue syndrome, but what she has to say is applicable to every illness and every one of us.

Please don't ask what that cyst was trying to teach my client; I have no idea, but there was something going on. That it would grow back twice is rather astonishing. What was happening physically? What was happening metaphorically? It's interesting to think about.

Impatience is a form of anxiety. I think the way we vociferously go after an issue sometimes reflects anxiety. If we address the root cause, the problem will resolve itself over time, and we will be the wiser for it. At least we might be.

Should my client have had her finger amputated? It's none of my business. Still, I wonder about these things, I do.

I have so much to say about this, but it's not urgent. I will take my time.

May your day be spacious, may you allow plenty of time to get from one place to the next, may you be kind and peaceful. Shalom.


Kerry said...

She cut off her finger, and although I don't have the same information that she did, holy cow that's a strong reaction. She must have been so scared.

I don't like being sick, but a young friend once told me that she was in the "warm, relaxing part" of coming down with a bad cold. She was smiling. What? That forever changed the way I think about becoming sick.

Reya Mellicker said...

Wow! How cool, about the warm, relaxing part of a cold. I never thought of it that way but I know just what she meant!

My client was a lawyer and highly competitive. I think that cyst got in the way of her tennis game and she wouldn't have it. We was going to win, even if that meant cutting her whole hand off. So interesting!