Written September 2020
For many weeks after getting sick, I was constantly wondering when I was going to feel better again. I was consumed with my symptoms and all I could think about was getting back to the way I used to be.
Gradually, I have made a conscious decision to accept my world as it is right now and adapt in the best way I know how. In a way, I have embraced my present health condition and am learning every day from this present state of being. I am doing things that I never thought I would do and the truth be known, I honestly believe that I am becoming a better person because of it.
Before I got sick, I was very physically active, exploring a healthy diet, and living for my work. In March, just before COVID hit I spent a week of vacation cooking, skate skiing, doing daily yoga sessions at Pure Yoga studio, and visiting with friends and family. Life was good and I felt fabulous.
Not even a week later, everyone’s reality changed in what seemed like a heartbeat and I became totally absorbed about how to lead my team at work through this terrible crisis. All of my energy was focused on contributing to the greater good, and honestly looking back I don’t think that I would change a thing. I did what I needed to do in that moment, and I think that in my own small way I did make a difference.
What I chose not to accept was the fact that I was getting sick and I absolutely refused to give in to it. I was working mostly from home and all of my tests were negative so I chose to believe that I could not possibly be one of those people they were constantly talking about in the news. Finally, the virus took over and I had no choice but to surrender to it and so began my journey.
How was I going to get out of this dark hole that I found myself in? I was looking for a trampoline that would catapult me back into the world I so desperately wanted to return to – a quick fix. In my mind, this beast living inside my body was only supposed to stay for 2-6 weeks max. I hated that my husband, children, siblings, friends and co-workers were so worried about me and if I’m honest, I was terrified. Being in this vulnerable state felt so foreign to me. I was the one who was supposed to be looking after them, not vice versa.
One of the many things that I have learned during my illness is that people who look after themselves so that they can then look after others are the best kind of people–and that is who I want to be.
These past few months, I have transformed into a new being and the transformation continues. I have decided to live one day at a time and make the most of each one.
I am more mindful about how I treat my body, my relationships, and how important it is to take time for self -reflection.
Accepting that chances are, I may not be able to go mountain biking in the park this fall or even skiing this winter has been a gradual process of letting go of what has defined me for so many years. There were times when I felt angry and sorry for myself and simply put, I cried a lot. I guess you could say I was grieving the loss of sense of self. Challenging myself physically is in my blood and a huge part of my ego. Sometimes, selfishly I would go off for hours, escaping from the stressors of life, always returning feeling so much happier.
My present state of being has given me reason to think back to my days as a recreation therapist and all of the wonderful patients I had the honour of getting to know. They may have suffered a brain injury, a stroke or a broken hip and it was my job to explore the pursuit of alternative leisure activities for those who were no longer able to engage in that special something that brought them a sense of personal well being. I now have a totally new appreciation for what they must have been going through. I have also thought a great deal about a good friend who years ago became a parapalegic as a result of a diving accident. His journey and resilience has always been an inspiration to me, and now even more so.
It’s not that I have given up hope that I will ever do what I used to do but I have accepted that for this moment in time it’s ok to surrender and to tuck my bikes away for the time being. I am exploring new ways to challenge myself physically and recently subscribed to too Pure Yoga tv online which has been a godsend. My latest obsession is The Ritual, another Pure Yoga on-line program, which requires more cardio vascular. Over the summer, I have graduated from dipping myself in the water and getting wet to swimming up the current of the river. It is a perfect way to increase my lung capacity. Each day, I go just a wee bit further and this feeds my super ego that just doesn’t want to let go!
These past few months I have discovered that if your energy is focused on work and physical activity only, you are missing out on so much more that life has to offer. I have re-introduced so many things into my daily routine: reading, journaling, bird watching, and listening to all of my favorite music, and taking the time to contemplate life. I am also discovering and creating new healthy habits, which I will share in the future.
Call me crazy but I believe that my illness truly has been a gift. I have been forced to check in with myself on so many levels. I am learning so much about the art of being, breathing, and mindfulness. I appreciate the time that I am spending with my family, the regular connections with my sisters, friends, and colleagues and the constant presence of my loyal steed Jack.
Although I am not fully recovered and still have a ways to go, I know I am on the road to recovery. Regardless of how things turn out healthwise, my life will never be the same and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I am doing my best to live with the pure intention to be loving, kind, and compassionate even if I can no longer escape my reality on my mountain bike to let my ya-yas out!
Here’s to embracing the new me. Life is good.