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Diagnosis, 2010: A Revisit

December 15, 2010

Mercury’s gone retrograde, and with it emotions have resurfaced from my post-diagnosis summer. I am currently being revisited by the acute shock and unfairness of it all. Recalling what a blissfully happy place I was in last April and May, until my body began to break down beyond the point of being able to ignore it. I remember how stunned I was to learn I was sick, really sick, not just “exhausted from stress.” I remember finding myself in a hospital bed, tubed up to five different machines, stacks of decorating and bridal magazines on my table, wondering when it was going to hit me that I had an incurable illness.

I remember leaving the hospital during a beautiful spring rain, and waking up the next morning in my childhood bedroom to a garden exploding in green. I remember discovering I no longer needed contacts to see (a brief side-effect of corrected insulin levels that has since departed). I remember how at once beautiful and scary the world felt. My life and my body had changed dramatically in a short period of time, and while I felt at peace about the changes, my courageous and impulsive joy for life was missing-in-action.

Life since my diagnosis has been about stability, in every sense of the word. Stability in my blood chemistry, stability in my home, my surroundings, in my spirit and emotions. Feeling physically grounded has been my number-one priority. I have turned down starting school in Ontario, and a new job in Calgary, even a summer trip to California, because being stable at home has been my priority. Only recently have I begun taking pleasure in small trips away – visits to the nearby countryside to recharge, and looking ahead, probably some extended trips to warmer US states this winter and spring. But since the summer, stability has been essential for me to go inward and make peace with the torrent of changes that befell me since that gorgeous week in May.

I often feel like something in me hit “reset” that rainy spring day when I emerged from the hospital. I slept that night in a borrowed white linen nightgown of my mother’s, on crisp green sheets, in a room perfumed with Tuscan lavender and lilacs from the garden. Clean and renewed from my long hot shower, I felt like a mythic virgin maiden in my white long gown, beautiful and wise. I remember the peculiarity, as well as the intimacy, of giving myself those first few injections – into my soft thigh, lifting the white linen to perform this new sacred deed.

Something new was born in me that night. But something also distinctly died. I have spent much of this fall mourning what I’ve lost, and building physical and spiritual strength to recover from it. I feel stronger, but I also know I’m still carrying grief. And as we head towards the darkest night of the year, and as we prepare to spin into the brightening days of winter, I wonder whether those things that died might not again, in new and surprising ways, spring back to life.


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