Thursday, October 23, 2008

3 AM Prayers

I lay in bed in the wee, small hours of this morning pondering this diagnosis, received by phone yesterday. I now have a condition (or do I have a disease? Is there an appreciable difference?) for which I will need to take medication (my doctor is going with Entocort: 3 pills a day), the nurse told me, for the foreseeable future. Long term. Forever.

This does not jive with how I see myself in the world: to be on medication, a middle-aged woman, forever. For one thing, I see myself as young. I don't know what kind of mental and emotional padding allows someone to get within spitting distance of fifty while maintaining such an impression, but there you have it. I still think of myself as closer to college than retirement. Clearly, a bit out of touch with reality.

To my great astonishment (and shame) I cried when I learned this... not the diagnosis, the treatment. Steroids, forever. I realize there is a level of self-absorption here that is probably troubling. I realize too that part of my infant-tantrum response has to do with the fact that I have gotten off scott-free for years, during most of which I treated my body pretty badly. Got morbidly obese, didn't exercise, ate most of my diet out of a bakery. Still, all that time, I had great bloodwork, no high blood pressure, no diabetes, no joint problems. Lucky, lucky and undeserving.

Now, I am a middle-aged lady who has to take steroids and I'm... not exactly having a meltdown. But something is being shaken and stirred in me. My own mortality is real, more real than it has ever been.

There are people I love who are reading this who have far greater challenges, physically or emotionally. There are people I love who would prefer this diagnosis to the cards they have been dealt, which makes me feel like a real crybaby. I don't mean to say this is anything... remarkable. But. It's a change. Let's just say, it's a change. I think of myself differently this morning than I did yesterday morning.

So I lay in bed last night (this morning), my mind meandering through the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

(Amazing, how automatically and cross-generationally this psalm becomes the plank in the water onto which we climb).

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;

(Makes me lie down... forces rest upon me, and time, and nourishment... takes me to the place where I can be soothed... if I will be open to it.)

he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

(No words... just opening a space.)

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.

(Look, I know this isn't the darkest valley... my God, that gives this thing some perspective. This is just... a bad neighborhood.)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

(I feel Beloved breathing beside me... she is the hands of God caring for me right now. God, whom she doesn't even believe in... God, whom she considers at best a childish delusion, and at worst a name invoked while committing criminal acts of cruelty... but God flows in her and through her as she loves me.)

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

(No words... sleep.)


Wormwood's Doxy said...

Prayers for you, Cecilia---it's a lot to absorb in a short period of time. I'm so glad Beloved is there for you.

And you have drawn me up short---I too eat terribly but have great bloodwork, etc. (I do exercise pretty regularly and I'm not overweight, but I'm pushing 50 myself...) Thanks for the reminder to take care of myself.


Unknown said...

Holding you in prayer, C.

Choralgrrl said...

You're not a crybaby, C. You're just honest, which is both necessary and brave; it will point the way through this next passage.

That, and your terrific sense of humor. :-)

Prayers for and lots of love to you and Beloved.

LittleMary said...

love ya babe. really do.

Fran said...

So many prayers...

Jane R said...

Much peace to you, Cecilia, and healing as you offer us your beautiful reading of the ancient Psalm.

And praise to Godde for the new love and care you have for your own holy body.

Sarah S-D said...

oh, dear one... ((((c))))

Anonymous said...

Dear Cecilia,
I have the same diagnosis. May I offer some suggestions that helped me weather the initial storm?
First, I found a local support group (Colitis and Crohn's Disease Group at a local hospital)then I joined the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. I am not a joiner believe me! But it helped tremendously to have a support group of other people who are experiencing this sometimes embarrassing and difficult "thing". As you may know, it was awful! It nearly drove me off the altar and greatly interferred with my life. Talking with other people really helped. After a period of time, I have been able to adjust my food intake to where I am much more in control of the symptoms now. A support group helped me tremendously. I was quite surprised to walk into my first meeting and find myself face to face with a lay leader of my church! I swore him to secrecy and away we went! My best to you. Be hopeful! Things can get better. You'll be in my prayers. Blessings.

August said...

not sure what to say to comfort you...just wanted you to know i am thinking of you.

Lisa Fox said...

Hey! I understand. I had a weird "thing" that nearly made me crazy 'til it was finally diagnosed as "Essential Tremors," a movement disorder related to Parkinson's. I had two initial reactions.

First, having chased a diagnosis for some months, I was relieved that this niggling thing finally had a name. If it had a name, that meant I could come to know it and deal with it. That was a huge relief to me.

Second, like you, I was initially thrown that there was nothing I could do to fix it -- no cure for it. I'm a little older than you [I'm 53], and had never had any significant health issue. But it's been a comfort to me to have a name for the disorder and a prescription that controls the symptoms. In those first few days, I was a little freaked. Now, I'm just glad for health care and the diagnosis and an online community of folks who have dealt with the disorder.

Cecelia: All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Say your prayers and cling to your beloved.