I took a really hot shower today at four o’ clock in the afternoon.
It wasn’t a long shower, and the purpose wasn’t really to wash my hair. I just needed a moment. Alone.
Maybe it’s because I’m a pisces. Maybe its because I lived a good chunk of my childhood just a few miles from Lake Superior – who I’m certain imprinted the pull of her huge powerful waves on my soul. Maybe its because the bathroom is one of the only places I can lock the door. Spiritual or practical, the reason doesn’t matter so much, water is an incredible source of comfort to me. It soothes me.
This afternoon I was feeling overwhelmed, tired and all jumbled up. I needed to breathe in the fragrant steam in order to clear my head and rebalance my unsettled emotions. I do all of my crying in the shower. Today I was a mess because I had an appointment with my doctor. I love my doctor. She is warm and kind and really listens. Her office is small and smells like a health food store, not disinfectant. Her little dog is often behind the reception desk and Freja looks forward to their visits. But I always dread seeing her.
I have Lyme Disease.
I’m not going to write about all of the medical controversy that surrounds Lyme Disease, or how little is truly known about how to treat it, or how misinformed most well-intentioned doctors are. I might someday, but not right now. My experience with this disease is much too raw for me to offer much perspective. My journey with Lyme is a long one, and I’ll probably share the details some day, but all I know in this moment is that I am still not better.
Lyme and I must walk together for a while longer. Maybe for the rest of my life. What started with a tick between my toes has sapped my strength, ruined my sleep, changed my diet, ended my ability to have more children and turned my life upside down. I have had a lot of time – years – to absorb and reflect on these changes and am no longer as angry as I once was. Mostly resigned. Mostly.
I have been feeling pretty good these days. I’m improving and am feeling a renewed sense of well-being. My doctor and I have been collaborating, and have found a way of approaching my treatment that seems to be working. It just takes a long time. Today, I found out that it will take a while longer. Even though I have learned to be patient and to expect setbacks – I’ve experienced them before – this news got me all twisted up.
Along the way, I have also learned what to do when I start feeling my heart sink. I need to take a moment in the shower, cry if the tears well up, and focus not on what has been taken from me, but on what this disease has offered me. Lyme Disease has taught me many lessons, but the incredible gift of clarity – to know what really matters – has been the most life changing. I no longer volunteer my limited energy to deal with nonsense. I think the first seed of my passion for simplicity may have been planted when I realized that I had to prioritize in order for my family, and for myself, to thrive.
This long journey back to wellness is allowing me to finally give myself permission to strip away the useless bits and to find pleasure in the most simple of gestures. My body and my spirit need time to heal, so I seek to find joy in these small things. I play dress-up with my sweet girls. I take slow meandering walks with my daughter on a crisp, sunny January day. I smile when what I’ve made with my own hands brings a giggle of glee. I savor a restful nap. I find peace in a hot shower.
Again, less is more.
If you are curious to learn more about Lyme Disease this is a good place to start.