Life In Boxes

We each live life in our own boxes. Some of our boxes are bigger than other boxes. Some of them allow the flow of information through their walls. Others are made from rigid materials that permit no changes. Fortunately, we can decide when and if the walls of our boxes will ever come down. Still, as much as we are constrained by boundaries of our own making, the things that hold us back the hardest are usually beliefs ingrained in our societies and the institutions built around them.

These beliefs and institutions are the foundation upon which all our boxes stand and they influence us all from the earliest stages of our lives. They direct the way we see the people in boxes around us and ourselves. They often affect the choices we make about which people in which boxes we can and cannot connect with; and if those beliefs and institutions remain stagnant or rile against becoming open and inclusive of all people in all boxes, those of us who have been educated solely by them will never open ourselves to change.




Falling Away

I’ve had a terrible time in recent weeks: extremely erratic sleep, high pain levels, low mood, swollen legs and feet, and tears. As terrible as it’s been, I’m always conscious, and working at accepting, that when one has to save their energy to cope with intense pain every day, other things in life sometimes need to fall away.

I’ll use a recent situation to illustrate my point: The sink in my bathroom was replaced. What started out as a small leak became a major undertaking when the exact location of the leak couldn’t be isolated. I noticed the leak months ago. It caused a constant slow drip of water into the cabinet under the bathroom sink. I had to remove all the toiletries and other bits and pieces stored in the cabinet because the drip became strong enough to splatter and get things wet. To prevent water damage I also placed a small container on the spot where I saw the drip landing and pooling on the bottom of the cabinet.

Shortly after I placed the first call to the resident maintenance manager, he came to inspect the leak. After his inspection, he assured me that it was a minor issue he could probably resolve within an hour. He returned the next day with all his plumbing gear and a replacement part for something on the sink’s main pipe. Can you tell I know nothing about plumbing from that statement?

As promised, within an hour he stood up from under the sink and declared the leak fixed. Unfortunately, the next day when I opened the cabinet doors and knelt on the floor in front of the empty cabinet ready to replace the shelf paper and refill it with my things I noticed that an area of the shelf was wet. I was not happy about it.

I placed another call to the maintenance manager. He found it unbelievable that his work had not resulted in a permanent fix of the leak. He returned to my home and fiddled under the sink a few minutes longer than he had the first time. This time he said the issue was not a pipe at all. It was the sink itself, which due to age and erosion had sprung a leak on its bottom. This time, to complete the repair, the sink had to go and a new one installed in its place. When this would happen or how long it would take was up in the air. The maintenance manager first had to check his inventory to see if he had a spare sink that would fit then schedule a time to do the work.

As I said before, that was months ago. While I waited, I moved all the things that once filled the cabinet under my bathroom sink to the hallway outside my bathroom. All those things sat in uneven rows I had to walk past many times every day for months: bottles of shampoo and conditioner, jars of hair gel, bottles of lotions, soaps, hair clips, makeup, and more. I passed it all in the hallway every day and tried to pretend it wasn’t there driving the neat freak inside me crazy. I didn’t fuss or make a complaint about the length of time it was taking to fix what started out as a small leak. Instead, I waited patiently for the maintenance manager to buy a new sink and complete the repair.

This story about the repair and eventual replacement of my sink is akin to what my life has become. Since my misdiagnosis nearly five years ago, I’ve had to allow many things to fall away and become less rigid about who I am and what I find acceptable. I no longer fuss or complain about my circumstances, nor do I push my doctors to do something to make me better NOW; as I did with the doctors at the beginning of all of this. Doctors whom I did not trust, with good reason, since I soon learned they misdiagnosed my illness. Much like waiting for the arrival of a new sink, there isn’t much I can do to hurry things – namely the changes in my health that I desire. Even though treatments continue to be unsuccessful, I believe my current doctors are looking for answers and doing everything they can for me.

I now bear the inconvenience of delayed deliveries, the disappointment of canceled plans, and last-minute rescheduled appointments or treatments as if they were displaced bottles of shampoo and lotions because I understand that sometimes $h!t just happens and I have to roll with it. Still, the most significant thing that has fallen away is any unreal expectation(s) that the first attempt with newly prescribed medication(s) or treatment(s) may instantly cure and make all that ails me better because sometimes the fall from the height of unrealistic expectations hurts more than the pain itself.

Besides, the intensity and wide arc of the moods and emotions (anxiety, anger, agitation, sadness, and more…) don’t serve me well either. In fact, they worsen my pain. Therefore, allowing them and so many other things to fall away is necessary to cope better with my illness. Furthermore, I’m finding that the more I relax about things, the less likely I am to have a pain flare up, which is a small comfort when a body always has pain.


InkTober 2017: Day 8 – Crooked

My life has not moved along a straight linear path in recent years – it probably never did. Because of my health, it has swung from one extreme to the next – from quiet calm to frenzied panic – without much warning. If I had to draw a graph to represent that activity, the line would have few crooked curves; it would be a line with jagged high peaks and deep valleys illustrating the sharp turns I’ve experienced while living with this yet to be fully diagnosed illness. However, as sharp as the turns have been, they haven’t all been bad. At the top of some of the high peaks, I’ve had some unexpectedly joyous moments and it’s been those moments that have kept me grounded and moving forward with some hope of a full recovery.

Interestingly, the difficulties of my health were not the first things I thought of when I read the word ‘crooked’ from the list of InkTober prompts. Although I’ve traveled to California before, I’ve never been to San Francisco. So why Lombard Street in San Francisco was my first thought I don’t know.

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I must have locked away the piece of trivia about Lombard Street being named “the crookedest street in the world” because of the eight hairpin turns in its design resembling zigzags that carry it down what was once a steep slope (27% grade). All the photos of Lombard Street I’ve ever seen, show a beautiful hillside lined with planted bushes of bright flowers and homes built on either side of a winding street paved with red bricks; and because of these features this street is a huge tourist attraction in San Francisco. Maybe one day in the not-to-distant future, when I get back to traveling on a regular basis, I’ll take a trip to see it.