At any moment, life can bend and twist and turn and change in a multitude of directions. So often when we are busy, preoccupied with routine activities we tend to overlook its fragility and mystery, taking our bodies, intelligent brains and divine potential for granted.
It is New Year’s Eve. Many people have shifted their everyday busy-ness to the planning, plotting, and resolutions for the year ahead. Up until a couple of days ago, I too was busy with pre-defining my new year: things to do, places to go, expectations for myself and family. Life never ceases to amaze me with its power to intervene, redefining the sequencing of events and wiping our human need for control clear off the table. The only thing we can be sure of is change.
I’m currently in Norfolk, where I planned to spend this new year’s week relaxing in a country cottage with family and friends. Instead of writing from the cottage, I’m in a hospital bed. The day we left for our trip I developed severe abdominal cramping, and over the next hours the pain became unbearable coupled with back pain and chills. By the time we arrived, an ambulance was waiting for me at our rented property; by midnight I had been diagnosed with acute pancreatitis.
There is a double irony to the story. First, our friends who we go away with every year for New Years are also the couple who are always with us for hospital visits. Every unusual incident I have had in hospital since being in the UK (and there have been many), they have been in one way or another involved. Even when months pass without contact, we randomly seem to reconnect within hours of a hospital “situation”, whether its within their family or ours. My husband and I actually met each other through this couple during a hospital encounter!
The other irony is that last week I spent some down time over Christmas reading Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine. He talks a lot about trauma and various causes, including hospital visits. I have been particularly sensitive to this during the past days as I get poked, prodded and pinned down while listening to the desperate pleas hour after hour of an insane woman in the bed next to mine. I’m using my right to refuse medication, painful procedures and choosing what I eat and when. In addition, lots of deep breathing and felt sense practice (from the book Focusing by Gendlin).
The cause of my condition isn’t understood, only that I don’t have the classic case caused by gallstones or alcohol. They are treating me as if it were a case of acute pancreatitis and luckily, things are looking up. The severe pain and fever/chills are gone and I’m anticipating a discharge in the next few days, although I’m trying to manage my expectations as I’ve just been transferred to a ward with long term elderly patients with diseases of a chronic nature. Hospital adventures take two.
More than anything, I am again reminded of what a gift life is, how fragile the human body can be, and how grateful I am to have people around me whom I love and cherish, who give me reason to get up everyday and who allow me to smile and be comfortable being myself, in whatever state I may be in. All of this is genuine reason to be delighted to be in the hospital on New Years Eve. Happy 2013. May everyday be meaningful and full of love.