A good friend reminded me both our physical and spiritual bodies share a circulatory system. Which brought me to the realization that not only is my physical body going through this Lupus flare, my spiritual body is as well. For the past 3 months, I have been in the most excruciating pain. I was having symptoms of a Lupus flare back in October. I remember telling the White Boy we couldn’t be too mobile on Halloween because my joints were feeling very Tinman-y, and that was not the costume I intended on wearing. Yet, I ignored my body. I ignored a lot. And my body started to scream louder. So loud, I ended up in the ER on December 21st with the most horrific chest pains. According to the doctors, I was in a full out Lupus flare. Sigh.
Didn’t the Universe know I didn’t have time for Lupus? I moved to NYC to pursue my dreams and BECOME. I quit my engineering job, gave up comfort and perceived stability, left my friends behind, and moved to the Big City. Lupus? Really? Please! Ain’t nobody got time for any of that!
I know it’s old, but it seemed to fit so well. Sweet Brown has a way with words. Anywhos…
Poor health will force you to sit down and cancel everything, no matter what you had planned. After a few days of being shot up with prednisone, blood thinners, Percocet, and NSAIDS (and I’m mad I know what these things are), I was released on Christmas Eve. The worst was over, right? Nope.
I thought my body would just go back to normal…but it didn’t. The pain continued, sometimes worse than the initial pain I felt that brought me to the ER. I had to sleep sitting up due to the swelling around my heart and lungs. The meds I was taking for pain was killing my stomach, so I had to barter which pain was worse. Basic things like breathing, walking, talking, laughing, sneezing, burping, sleeping, and every other verb you would throw a ‘y’ on to name one of the 7 Dwarfs was painful. These were all activities I took for granted, and never will again.
So, how did I deal? I ate. And I ate some more. And I ate. And I became depressed because all the work I did to lose 60lbs was being undone, and I didn’t know how to stop. I was in too much pain to workout, and the only relief I got from the physical pain was from cramming chocolate, sugar, and starch, in all of their glorious forms, down my throat. As I write this, most of my clothes don’t fit…and there’s a large chunk of me that doesn’t care. That chunk not being the chunk I gained. The weight and the flare will go away. My Dad always tells me “tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”
I didn’t want to complain too much because I didn’t want to seem like one of those folks who made excuses. Debbie Downer, Negative Nancy, and Whining Whitney were not the white girl names I wanted. I recall another comic telling me “you blame everything on Lupus.” I wanted to punch her in the face, but, praise God I see a therapist, and can easily recognize when someone is jealous of me and has their own issues. In addition, my fingers were too swollen for me to ball up a fist. I chose the people I would allow myself to vent to very carefully, and tried not to overburden them with my pain.
So, that’s the back story…now onto Lupus Lesson #1: I am a Fuckin’ Gangsta.
Like for real! Today I was walking home from the subway. To most, this does not sound like a chore. However, when standing up, walking longer than 1 minute, and climbing stairs completely knocks the wind out of you, and it hurts to take deep breaths because the lining around your lungs are swollen, you realize the obstacle and achievement when you make it to any destination. So, I’m walking home and I realized “you’re doing this! You’re living your life, pushing through the pain, and being independent. You haven’t made excuses for anything, and you’re finally starting to listen to your body and the Universe. You’re a fuckin’ G!”
The same friend who reminded me of the shared circulatory system between physical and spiritual body, told me I was boxing with gloves on AND, once those gloves come off, i.e., I’m out of this flare, my hands will be so fast and powerful. It’s as if the Universe sent me to bootcamp, where I’m being conditioned for the fight of my life. That fight is not Lupus. Lupus is merely my sparring partner. And I want to believe it’s not even a fight. It’s a journey. I am being trained, conditioned, and tested for the journey of my life. And, like training for anything – marathon, fight, SATs – the training is always WAY harder than the actual event.
So, until these weighted gloves come off, one of the first lessons I’m learning through this flare is I am amazing and I should celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how small it may seem. Lupus is my pair of weighted gloves. It’s what’s going to make me faster, stronger, and secure the championship.
I’m a firm believer we all have weighted gloves. Some look at them like an anchor, holding us down and preventing success. I choose to see my gloves as a training tool.
It’s amazing how a shift in thought has made me realize just how much of a Gangster I truly am.