12 June 2011

When the Crap Sticks

Sunday 12June11

I want to feel good. Well, if you've been reading me you know that is what is guiding my life and it's been working darn well. But this weekend I've been faced with a situation that REALLY doesn't make me feel good. What the hell do I do with this?

So far, I've given myself the chance to grieve and mourn and cry. I've slept as much as possible because that is how I deal with the height of crap. Sleep until tomorrow, tomorrow is another day - that's my mentality. And I keep telling myself that I've got a time limit. I've given myself this weekend to feel the pain and disappointment and the overall beat down of the situation and as I enter Sunday, today, the final day of the weekend I start to plot my plan back into 'feeling good.'

I used to marvel at people who had the incomprehensible things happen in their lives and how they managed to pull themselves above self-pity and do something inspiring with their lives. For example, the able bodied person who has a horrifying accident and ends up paralyzed. That person creates beautiful art or becomes a speaker or does something wonderful with their life. I was always impressed with that. I wondered how they came to the perspective.

Then I was sick in the late 1980's early 1990's. I broke out with three different rashes all over my body. I had the rashes on the palms of my hands and the bottoms of my feet, every where except for inside my mouth. With each passing week the rashes got considerably worse and ultimately one morning, I woke up with my face so disfigured and swollen that if I hadn't known that I'd walked to the mirror, I wouldn't have known that it was me. Terrifyingly freaky. Needless to say, I packed an overnight bag, grabbed some writing materials and books to read, got in a cab and went to emergency. You know it's bad when you arrive at emergency and the guy behind the desk checking people in, stops what he's doing and says, "Ma'am come with me." I bypassed the checking in and went straight to the curtained off area next in line to see a doctor. And the doctor came right away.

I ended up being hospitalized for close to 3 weeks in the dermatology ward of which when my doctor (the head of dermatology) did her rounds, she had about 25 other doctors with her who wanted to learn about this freak case called Shelley. My first morning in the hospital, I was in a semi private room with Margaret, I woke up and my face was so much worse that I couldn't open my eyes. In a calm voice I called Margaret's name and asked her if she could call a nurse.

"Why? What's wrong?"
"I can't open my eyes."
She scrambled out of the room and screamed at the top of her lungs, "NURSE! NURSE! HURRY!"
I shook my head and actually said out loud, "Well I didn't want that to happen."

Later she kept commenting at how calm I was and I said, "Well I am in the hospital. They are going to find me before the day is out." ha-ha!

So there I was in the hospital with the 3 rashes and the swollen, disfigured, elephant man face and one of my three doctors says to me, "We're going to have you apply this super strong steroid cream called Lydex on your face. We have never prescribed it for someone's face but at this point we don't think it will hurt." Great!

As I sat alone with my thoughts in my hospital room, I didn't know if I was going to live or die or what was to become of me, the thought process was as follows, "If I'm going to have to live the rest of my life like this, disfigured, I'm probably never going to have a man and get married and have kids. I can be angry, I suppose, about how this bad luck has befallen me and spend the rest of my days wishing for the time before these mystery rashes. Or if I'm going to live the rest of my life like this, what am I going to do with my life? What meaning am I going to make out of my life?" In that moment, that's when I got that the person who loses use of his or her limbs comes to the same moment and makes their decision. We are all faced with that question and different points and traumas in our lives.

Feeling good is a choice, it's a decision we make, it's a decision I've made. There are always really good things within the crapstorms. Like my three girlfriends texting me back right away as I was facing down the news and I needed moral support to keep my head up and save face. That was a major for me because I don't tend to reach out for help and when I have been people have been reaching out their hands to pull me back up. People have been hugging me in the best way they know how and man, it helps. Does it ever help.

I've still got a little more crying to do because as Robin Thicke sings in his song I'ma be alright... I had my dreams woken, man I almost got some...
And while I feel the feelings I also plot out my plan in keeping with the question, "If I'm going to have to live the rest of my life like this, with this condition, what am I going to make of my life?"

What will I choose to focus on? What will I build? How will I continue to feel good?

An as an aside to the rash story. I was the only person in the dermatology ward who was a virgin, it was my first visit. Everyone had been there at least 3 times and they all told me that I'd be back just like them. I was so motivated never to have to return to the dermatology ward that it pushed me into holistic medicine and reflexology and Shiatsu and juicing. All of the wonderful things that I still follow now and more stuff like Qi gong and Kundalini yoga that I've picked up as my interests matured. There ended up being a lot of good in that terrifying time.

So I have to look for all the good that will come out of this hurtful, disheartening situation. If it doesn't kill you... right?


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