Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday was a fabulous day for me. After months of worsening fatigue and pains, suddenly, I was rewarded with one of those 'miracle days'. I woke up fresh in the morning for a doctor's apptment, had to walk quite a lot in the hospital but didn't get knocked out, did two loads of laundry, watched TV, played word games on the computer, tidied the kitchen cabinets, served myself lunch and set up the living room.
It's difficult to not think like this. It's difficult to stop myself from doing all that I can, simply because I can in fact do it (making any sense?). You would think that after so many years of struggling with the issue I would have learnt the importance of resting even when I'm not tired. But whenever I do get a 'normal' day, this is still almost impossible for me.
The excitement of having a good day wouldn't let me sleep all of Monday night. Finally fell asleep at abt 6:30a.m. the next morning and am, surprise, surprise, now back to spending the whole day in bed.
Moral of the story - Take each day as it comes and learn to recognize/appreciate the precious moments in life.
And, as of today, that's precisely what I'm going to do!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The last few months have been exciting but exhausting. My sister-in -law J. has been staying with us for the past 4 months as she prepared to take the American National Board of Dentistry Exams. For the past 3 weeks, my parents have been visiting us from India. We've also moved house, visited Seattle and Mt. Rainier, and done a family trip to Vegas and the Grand Canyon. As I said, exhilerating, but so exhausting.
During this time I've gone through many ups and many downs. Sometimes, the fatigue got too much for me. And I would feel trapped. Frustrated. Imprisoned in my own body. My soul yearned to soar, but instead I would wave goodbye from the hotel room as everyone else went for a hike or to the casinos. And I would wonder what I had done to deserve this.
But each time this happens, I now take myself back to my trip to the Mt Rainier National Park. When we went to visit Seattle, Mt Rainier wasn't even on our 'places to visit' list. My husband almost had to drag me there. And now, I thank him for it everyday. Memories of Rainier have become my own personal place of peace.
I don't think I can ever explain the overwhelming sense of peace and 'rightness' that I felt sitting in those mountains surrounded by trees and brooks, no soul or sign of civilization in sight. Just a magnificent snow covered active volcano forming a glorious backdrop to an endless panorama of hills covered with green trees. In that moment, all my concerns and worries and stresses just disappeared. All that mattered was the nature around me and the contentment within me.
Rainier changed me in a fundamental way. Now, when things threaten to overwhelm me, I just transport myself back to those hills, overlooking a vista of pine trees and lakes, and nothing seems important any more in face of such majestic natural beauty.
I hope those of you that follow this blog have already found such a place (I would love to hear abt these), and I strongly urge the rest of you to find your Rainier. It will give you more joy than you can imagine!
Friday, September 18, 2009
1. The illness I live with is: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) & Fibromyalgia (FM)
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2002
3. But I had symptoms since: 2001
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: I can no longer do the things I love - dancing, swimming, running, anything that requires energy
5. Most people assume: It's all in my head
6. The hardest part about mornings are: Never feeling well rested or refreshed
7. My favorite medical TV show is: Gray's Anatomy
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My laptop. It's my link to the outside world.
9. The hardest part about nights are: Lying awake for hours...not being able to sleep because of the pain.
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins: 11 (which is less than most people with CFS/FM)
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: have tried homeopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, pranic healing, yunani - none of these have worked. I have found that yoga helps if ptacticed regularly.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: Visible. At least people would be able to see that I'm not making it all up.
13. Regarding working and career: Had to give up in 2002 because of my illness.
14. People would be surprised to know: I have been exhausted for 7 yrs. And in pain almost all the time. I try not to make a big deal about it, but it is a huge deal to me.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: That I (or anyone else) don't understand my illness. I don't know whether a cause or cure will ever be found for it.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: get my yoga teaching certificate
17. The commercials about my illness: Have just started. I'm glad people are beginning to recognize fibromyalgia as an illness. Unfortunately still nothing about CFS.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Running. Dancing. Working. Studying. Being self-reliant.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: my life as it was.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Gardening (well, I just started 2 days ago)
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: go sky diving followed by dancing all night.
22. My illness has taught me: the importance of being healthy.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: Snap out of it (well, duh, thanks...that never occurred to me for 7 years). If you can't say anything helpful, pls don't say anything.
24. But I love it when people: people help me in the most unexpected ways.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: "This body is perishable, consciousness is of a nature to dissolve, and all objects of clinging are impermanent, suffering and subject to change." The body is only a temporary vehicle. It is my soul that will continue. And my soul is only a part of the Universal consciousness. So why despair for the body?
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Learn to listen to your body. Rest before you get tired. Don't compare yourself - not to anyone else and not to yourself before you got ill.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: Millions of dollars (& pounds) are being spent on researching CFS, over 1 million Americans suffer from it, yet we are nowhere close to discovering what it is or to finding a cure.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I want people to recognise that an invisible illness can be as debilitating as a visible one.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Happy, that you cared enough to read it.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I can stay home, make sure I eat on time, get enough rest, and pray that I remain well (still no guarantees there).
Or I can go to a friends place, out dancing or to play pool, and almost certainly be bedridden with terrible muscle pains and excruciating fatigue for the following week or so.
It's not much of a choice, but still...
I was feeling so much better when I got back from India that my husband and I planned a 5-day vacation in Los cabos, Mexico. The place was gorgeous, the people were fun, the resort was exquisite, and I was sicker than I've ever been in my life.
I tried so hard to be 'good'. I rested when my husband was out playing beach volleyball. I ate every 2 hrs to keep up my strength. I made sure I got enough sleep. Still, by the time we had to fly back to San Francisco, I was so ill that, for the first time in my life, I had to ask for a wheelchair at the airport.
I always knew that a wheelchair is a good idea for me when there are long distances to walk, but I could never get myself to go in one. It may be physically more comfortable, but emotionally and psychologically I felt it would be too difficult for me. I couldn't bear the idea of having to rely on a wheelchair at 30. It would be like the final step to giving in to CFS.
But last month, I couldn't help it. I couldn't stand, speak or even think. The fatigue was unbearable. So, when my husband asked for a wheelchair, I sat in it.
I think it was almost as difficult for my husband to see me in the wheelchair as it was for me to be in one. I could see how close to tears he was as he pushed my chair.
The airport staff was incredibly nice and helpful. But when one of them wanted to get me a doctor I tried to explain CFS to him. The surprise on his face when I told him that a doctor couldn't help, that no one knew what was happening to me or that I couldn't know when I'd suddenly collapse again, made me realize again what a strange illness we live with.
I have gotten used to CFS. At least I thought I had. Almost everyone who knows me now understands the illness somewhat, but it's when I try to explain the condition to someone new, that the true horror of CFS dawns me.
I'm tired of being tired. Of having swollen eyes and and an exhausted smile in every photo. Of the uncertainty. And most of all, I'm tired of not being able to be independent.
I wonder when it'll all be ok again.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Stoned wallabies make crop circles
"We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," the state's top lawmaker Lara Giddings told local media on Thursday.
Poppy producer Tasmanian Alkaloids said livestock which ate the poppies were known to "act weird" -- including deer and sheep in the state's highlands.
Australia produces about 50 percent of the world's raw material for morphine and related opiates.
(Reporting by Michael Perry; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
From where you ask? Haven't you been following? I'm back to the SF Bay Area after spending 3 months in India. Am slowly getting over the jet lag and back on to the social circuit.
On Sunday some friends & I went to see the much hyped animation 'Up' by Disney. Good story? Great graphics? Awesome movie? Sure. Buy why did it have to be so sad? The 3 other women I was with, all openly admitted to crying through the movie. The 2 guys were a bit more reticent, but did say that the movie was very sad. I mean, why did Ellie have to die? Why couldn't both the old people go for the adventure together? And, even if she did die, why keep reminding us of that by repeatedly showing her adventure book or her photo or her fave chair?!
This makes me wonder - why are kids movies, fairy tales, nursery rhymes always so violent, evil or depressing? Let's consider some all time favorites. Cinderella - evil step mom/sisters make her their slave. Rapunzel - locked up all alone in a high tower. Snow White - actually poisoned by her step-mother. And most scary of all - Hansel & Gretel - the evil witch tries to shove them in the oven and roast them alive. Could we get more gruesome than that?
And then there are the really sad stories. One of my earliest memories is of crying over the nursery rhyme 'Old Mother Hubbard'. For those of you who can't remember it, mother Hubbard's cupboard is bare, so she can't find a bone for her dog. I lay awake nights worrying about the poor hungry dog (somehow, it didn't seem to bother me much that presumably mom Hubbard was also going hungry).
Oh, and let's not forget the little Match Girl who dies of hunger and cold looking into houses where people are warm and well fed. Or the poor little Mermaid who sacrifices her identity as a mermaid for legs only to discover that the Prince doesn't love her after all. I could go on and on. At least Cinderella et al had happy endings!
So why is it that we feel it's ok to tell our children these nursery rhymes and put them to sleep by reading a favorite fairy tale (probably guaranteed to give them nightmares)? Maybe I was a particularly sensitive kid, and these things bothered me more than they did other children. Sometimes kids don't fully understand a situation. But surely, as adults, we shouldn't be allowing, or rather encouraging them to hear or see such stories and consider them perfectly acceptable.
One of the few kids' movies I've really enjoyed (and not cried through) has been 'Finding Nemo', but again, I wonder why the mother had to die...couldn't she just have sat in her nice fishy home and worried while daddy went and found Nemo?
I think if I want a nice happy story to read to my kids (as and when I have kids) I will simply have to go out there and write one myself!
Friday, May 29, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I'm going to borrow a page from Darragh's book (or in this case blog) and ask all followers & viewers of this blog to introduce yourselves. Feel free to write as much (or a little) as you like. Hopefully we'll all get to know each other a bit better :)
Monday, May 25, 2009
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles...
To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the Earth is spread with the same;
Every spear of grass - the frames, limbs, organs of men and women and all that concern them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
- Walt Whitman
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
As a result, I have decided to adapt my definition of 'Moment of Beauty' somewhat. The M.O.B.s will now include Words and Descriptions.
So, let's hear it for our very first non-visual M.O.B.:
"Grant yourself a moment of peace, and you will understand
how foolishly you have scurried about.
Learn to be silent, and you will notice that
you have talked too much.
Be kind, and you will realize
that your judgment of others was too severe.
and you will soon arrive."
- Chinese proverb
(taken from 'Buddha is as Buddha Does' by Lama Surya Das)
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Lately, however, I find myself being drawn towards spirituality. By spirituality I am not speaking of organized religion, but of an awareness of the self and of the soul/spirit/divinity/faith that lies within us all. I don't have the correct words...perhaps what I am speaking of can be best described as a search for our true selves.
I think I can trace this slow journey towards 'spirituality' to when I first started yoga for my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Before CFS, I was a classic type-A personlity. A typical day went something like this - wake up at 5, go to the gym for an hour, work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (good ol' dot com era), go clubbing after work, and start the whole cycle again the next morning. Any wonder my body decided to give up?
No one is sure about what causes CFS. But I believe that stress has a lot to do with it. Both physical and, especially, mental stress. When, after I got CFS, I was forced to slow down, it was as though my entire world had collapsed. And the stress of not being able to do anything about it made the fatigue worse until I was bedridden.
Yoga helped me recognize the importance of relaxation for perhaps the first time in my life. As I continued with yoga, I started feeling a little better. But, brought up in the 'science' culture, I was reluctant to accept that a "mystical" concept like yoga could actually be helping me. Where, I demanded, was the proof?
I started studying yoga more seriously and soon realized that yoga is an extremely scientific practice. Yet it's spiritual aspects can't be ignored. And so I started reading more - what is spirituality? Is there a God? If so, why does S/He allow suffering? The usual questions. I can't say I've discovered the answers, but I'm actually grateful to the CFS for having made me slow down enough to ask the questions.
I recently read a wonderful book - 'Autobiography of a Yogi' by Pramhansa Yogananda. I'm not going to go into the details of the book, but I can honestly say that it's one of the very few books that has changed the way I think. I would sincerely recommend this book to anyone interested in question like - 'are there miracles?', 'does astrology really work?', 'do we have a predetermined destiny?'.
At first the book may seem a bit too fantastic, but if you continue, it becomes a fascinating read.
Another subject I've been reading more about is Buddhism. What I especially like about Buddhist teachings are that they are more a way of life than a religion. Anyone, from any religious background can practice basic Boddhisatva virtues like compassion, generosity, patience, non-violence and truthfulness. For an easy-to-understand, modern yet thought-provoking read on the basics of Buddhism, I suggest 'Awakening the Buddha Within' and 'Buddha Is as Buddha Does' - both by American born Buddist teacher Lama Surya Das.
I know that this post has been a bit more serious than usual, but I'm in an introspective mood. Also, doing yoga, reading book on spirituality and learning to accept things gracefully are really helping me cope better with my illness. I can focus on everything that's good in my life, not on all that I can't do. But best of all, I have (mostly) accepted CFS as a teacher, and not as my enemy.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
A very dear friend of mine - Smita - has just started a new travel company for women from India who want to see the world.
Her travel packages are exclusively for women, safe, easy on the pocket, and bound to be great fun! She is currently offering 2 packages - to Bali & to Malaysia.
Do check out her website: http://www.travellingdivas.in/
...and let all your friends know abt it too!
One of the saddest things this trip was the death of my 11 yr old German Shepherd Dog - Roxy. Roxy had been living with my parents in India, but I was the one who had first brought her home when she was a puppy, slept with her on the floor for those first few days so she wouldn't feel lonely, and shared my pillow with her when she got older.
I have been in the US for 7 of Roxy's 11 years. Yet, every time I came home, Roxy behaved like I had never gone away. When I was away, she slept with my parents in their room, but from the day I returned, she ignored everyone else and followed me everywhere. In fact, when my husband & I came to stay with my parents for a couple of days immediately after our wedding, Roxy insisted on sleeping between us, cuddled up with me.
I could go on about Roxy, but I can feel the tears welling up. So all I'll say is - I love you Roxy, Rest in Peace.
OK, onto happier news! I have now got the naughtiest, craziest, loveliest little black lab pup for my parents in Delhi. She was a present from my in-laws when they saw how upset I was at Roxy's death. We've named her Zaara, and Zaara who is all of 10 weeks old, is busy terrorizing the household as I write this. All I can hear are screams and shrieks of "No! No! NO! ZAAAAARAAAAAAA!". She rly is a li'l devil! But more abt Zaara in another post (I will also post her pics when I can).
Other than trying to train Zaara, I've been pretty busy getting acupuncture treatments done. I've being going to Dr. Raman Kapur in Delhi. He had helped lot with my migraines a couple of years ago, so I'm really hoping he can do something abt the chronic fatigue. I'll let you know how it works out.
I'm also back to doing yoga regularly, along with eating lots of healthy fruits and freshly cooked veggies (SO much easier in India where there is domestic help than in the US - esp on days when health is bad). Overall, I am feeling a little better, but I don't know whether it's the acupuncture/yoga or simply the rest and pampering I've been getting in India.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Even though I've spent 12 years outside the country, India is still home for me. And yet, this time I return home with mixed feelings. There is, of course, the excitement of meeting family & friends, the wonderful pampering, the 24 hr domestic help, facials, manicures & pedicures for a tenth of what they cost in the US.
Yet, each time I come back, I feel a little more distant from my 'home'. As I walk out of the airplane, I see how dirty the International airport is. I notice the pollution and the noise a little bit more. I find myself carrying Purell hand sanitizer everywhere I go. I can't sit in a non-air conditioned car for more than a few minutes. I fear I might be turning into (shudder) an NRI (Non Resident Indian) snob!
I hate people who leave India and then consider themselves 'above' the desis (locals), those for whom criticizing their country becomes almost a status symbol - "how do you live in all that dirt...uff, I could never go back! Of course, I still love India dearly, but..." I guess that's the sort of love that can only be sustained at a distance.
And yet, I find myself thinking, if not saying these kind of things. And I start wondering - is it so wrong to want to live in a country that's clean, where officials (except, of course, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich) aren't corrupt, where doctors can be trusted to diagnose you fairly and not send you for unneccesary tests just to make some money? Every time I look at the Indian newspapers I stories of organ trafficking, medical malpractice, abuse of women and the like.
I'm feeling terribly guilty as I write this. I feel as though I'm letting down my country, bringing it's ugly side out in the open. After all, all homes have their issues, shouldn't we try to solve them internally and not open them up for scrutiny by the neighbors? Then why am I bad-mouthing my home?
It's in this frame of mind that I start looking around me a little more carefully. I come across an interesting story of how cops played cupid for a young couple. And I thought, though it is in no way pardonable that so many intercast couples are still rejected or worse by their own families in my country, maybe there is a glimmer of hope. A perfect example of the slow changes coming into India is that of the Muslim couple who married their adopted hindu daughter to a Hindu groom.
Suddenly, I feel a little more cheerful. Sure, there is a lot in India that needs to be improved. But if those of us who are young and educated, those of us who are wlling and capable of making a change start leaving our 'home' for greener pastures, then how can we expect India to move in the right direction?
Yes, it is tempting to live in a country where most issues have already been resolved, but wouldn't it be far more fulfilling to help my own country reach that level?