Lessons on Waiting and Being Delayed

Image from ASCRS Eyeworld

Image from ASCRS Eyeworld

“How did it get so late so soon?” 
~ Dr. Seuss

“If we can just let go and trust that things will work out they way they’re supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.”
~ Goldie Hawn

I spent a lot of time waiting in doctors’ rooms yesterday. In fact, over the last thirty years I’ve spent an enormous amount of time waiting. Waiting for doctors, waiting for tests, waiting for results, waiting for second opinions.

In the beginning waiting used to frustrate me. Doctors always seem to run late. There’s inevitably a big queue at the pathologist’s early in the morning when you’re on fasting bloods. Simple procedures often take far more time than you’d expected. Have you noticed that?

Back when I lived a very measured and time-poor life, scheduled down to the last-minute, this kind of waiting nearly drove me crazy. Why couldn’t these people be more efficient?

I’ll tell you why.

People and bodies are complex by design, and things don’t always run to plan.

Yesterday I was up early to be one of the first through the door for blood tests at 6am…

My first doctors meeting is at 9am and I have a string of appointments after that, all scheduled a few hours apart. I plan to get quite a lot done during the ‘in-between’ appointments time.

After breakfast I arrive at the surgery early to fill in paperwork. And then I wait. So early in the day I’m not expecting much of a delay. It’s a busy practice with several doctors, and the waiting room is already full.

One by one each person’s name is called. New people arrive. Others come and go. 9am rolls by, then 9.15 then 9.30. I still haven’t been called. After a while a woman sits near me, and she and I stay sitting as more names are called. I’ve been waiting over an hour now, and the woman beside me half that time. She begins looking pointedly at her watch, sighing and making it apparent that she’s not happy. I keep reading my book.

After an hour the woman loses it. “What’s the delay?” she shouts angrily. “My appointment was an hour ago.” She lets it rip at the receptionist. Still yelling abuse she storms out of the practice as an elderly couple emerge from a consulting room, red-eyed and obviously upset. They look lost as they stand at the front desk.

A minute later my doctor calls my name.

He’s reserved today, not his usual self. “Sorry about the delay,” he says. He seems quite sad.

I can’t help myself. “Are you okay?” I ask, placing my hand on his arm.

My lovely doctor is taken aback. Tears prick his eyes. “Yes,” he says in the softest of voices. “Yes, I’m fine.” With great professionalism he brings the focus back to me, the weight of whatever happened earlier sitting heavy in the air between us.

Things go well for me, and I’m out the door in under fifteen minutes.

Luckily I’d made my medical appointments with plenty of time in between them. I can deal with the delay with a little juggling. I cancel some plans. And my day works out just fine. Better than fine in fact. For some reason we end up getting ‘rock-star’ car parks right out front everywhere else we go. The day slides by so smoothly. Nothing at all is a hassle. It’s like being late early in the day somehow saves us all this time later on.

Last night as I sat in meditation I thought of that elderly couple, and said a little prayer for them, and for my doctors, nurses and all those who work in the health care industries. It’s a big job, at times a very hard and thankless job. People and bodies are complex by design. Things don’t always go to plan.

I spent a lot of time waiting yesterday because someone needed more of my doctor’s time. And whenever you need more time it’s not a good thing. Positive news is always fast. The other kind usually takes longer.

How could I mind someone needing more time? How can a doctor or other medical professional possibly determine in advance who might need that extra attention?

I have been on the other side of this too. A few years ago a young technician was performing an ultrasound on my abdomen. She took forever, and went from being chatty to very, very quiet. Eventually she left me there, and after a fraught ten minutes brought back a colleague. They both huddled over the screen and then the senior technician repeated my procedure. Neither would tell me what was going on. My fifteen minute procedure took ninety minutes, interspersed with phone calls back to my doctor. I was the person emerging into a waiting room of cranky patients being held up because of me.

I have been given my share of bad news. I have cried in car parks or sat stunned and silent afterwards in coffee shops near medical specialists’ rooms. I have been the reason for everyone else being delayed and inconvenienced.

Yesterday I was thankful that it was not me needing more time. And I was also grateful that others could have the time they needed.

It might not be a doctor’s surgery.You might end up waiting in the office of a counsellor, a tax accountant, a veterinarian, a dentist, a skin cancer specialist. The thing is, you’ll be waiting because someone needed more time.

If that was you, if you needed more time, you’d want the person helping you to care enough to be very present for you. To do all that they could to explain and work on your problems. You’d want to feel supported. You wouldn’t want to be just a number being churned through the mill.

So, if you find yourself waiting, know that it might be inconvenient, but it’s not the worst of things. It shows that whomever you’re waiting for cares about doing their job well. They care about looking after their clients or patients. And that means they’ll extend that same care to you.

Go well in the world today. I’m thinking of you and sending love.

Nicole xx

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Nurse Bert Reports

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“Nursing is a kind of mania; a fever in the blood; an incurable disease which, once contracted, cannot be got out of the system. If it was not like that, there would be no hospital nurses,  for compared dispassionately with other professions, the hours are long, the work hard, and the pay inadequate to the amount of concentrated energy required.
A nurse, however, does not view her profession dispassionately. It is too much a part of her.” 
~ Monica Dickens

 

Dear Peoples,

Today I am reporting on the progress of my patient. Nicole slept very well last night for the first time in three weeks.

She woke up feeling a bit better.

Thank you for sending all the good energies. It really helped.

It is a nice cool day after all that hot weather, and the sky is pretty outside right now. We can hear birds and morning noises. I can smell toast.

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I will ensure that Nicole stays in bed. I shall bite her if she tries to get up. Rest is best.

She starts nasty new drugs today. It might be a bit blerk around here. But we are ready for anything.

That is all for now.

Nurse Bert

PS – Here’s my ‘don’t you disobey me’ face that Nicole woke up to this morning. I have an expression for every situation!

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Sailing the Lyme Green Sea

“To reach a port we must set sail –
Sail, not tie at anchor
Sail, not drift.” 
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Hello, Lovelies! This morning I am reminded that I am still out on a wide green sea in my tiny boat, and that occasionally the weather shall be rough. That is the nature of treating late-stage Lyme disease, and I knew when I set sail that the journey would be a long one.

This time, hopefully, it’s only a little hiccup of a storm. It seems I have already travelled through the worst of it in the past twenty-four hours.

I have my map, my compass, and some wonderful travelling companions. I shall be just fine. All I need to do is hang on tight and weather this out.

Safe sailing for you too today, not matter what your journey.

Big hugs and love, Nicole xx

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What May Come

“Fate is never fair. You are caught in a current much stronger than you are; struggle against it and you’ll drown not just yourself but those who try to save you. Swim with it, and you’ll survive.” 
~ Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

 

 

This morning I have gained perspective.

It’s not much, but it’s something.

Today my head’s above water, I can breathe, and I am no longer in a state of panic.

 

Have you ever had a time in your life where it’s just one thing after another?

Right now, my friend, I’m there.

I’m caught up in the current and there’s no chance of getting my feet on solid ground any time soon.

It’s all due to Lyme Disease.

Sunday I herxed so badly from my treatment that I ended up having seizures.  On top of all the other pain. On top of all the other agonies.  My cranial nerve became inflamed and I lost the ability to think and speak clearly. My eye puffed up like a toad. I stuttered and stammered and finally ached my way into an exhausted sleep.

Yesterday it was off to the doctors for more tests, more scans, and eventually, more bad news. Some of it completely unexpected.  You know how it is when you’re so busy fighting the fire in front of you that you completely miss the raging inferno just over your shoulder.  Yesterday I felt like I just couldn’t take a trick. I was completely overwhelmed. I wondered how I was going to do this.  I had no idea how I could cope.

The truth is, the bacteria that have been colonising my body for nearly thirty years have wreaked havoc.  Today I can hold the pictures in my hands of the battlefield that is my body.

These bacteria have been waging war in me for a long time, and its shows. They’ve done damage to my endocrine system, my neurological function, my heart.  They’ve damaged my kidneys, my gallbladder, my liver. They are in my bones, my cells, my organs, my fatty tissues, my brain.

As a result I need major surgery.  That wasn’t on my current list of things I have to cope with.

We fled the city and came home to our little farm last night so I could get some breathing space.  I sat on the veranda sipping tea in the cool night air and talking to the owls. And finally I went to bed, and had my first full night’s sleep in ages.

barn owl

Now morning is here again.

I’m back to feeling like I can do this after the momentary horror of the past few days.  In fact, today I’m even going to do some work – which I am very much looking forward to!

Okay, maybe I’m limping and lurching and none too graceful, but hey – I’m still in the game.

Doctors are finally taking me seriously.  They have to.  My body’s a mess and the evidence is right in front of them, in my bloods and my scans.

Please don’t be telling me that all I need right now is to adjust my attitude, pray, eat greens or some magical network marketing product, speak to the right Angel or clear my old emotions.

I’ve been doing that for years.  And you know what – it has had a very positive affect.  I’m still alive and functioning, when I should be long dead.  My pain levels are tolerable when I should have jumped off a bridge by now.

People, there is a war going on inside me.  And instead of peaceful resistance, or allowing this hostile occupation, I am now aggressively defending my boundaries. The drugs and herbs I’m taking are making me feel awful, at times worse than dying, but I have proof that they are working. Right now, I’m using everything at my disposal.  It’s down to the wire for me, and I’m not ready to give up just yet.

I need surgery.  Sooner rather than later.

Well, sometimes that’s what has to happen.

Surgeons and doctors have an important place in the world, and I’m a bit over people with their New Age fundamentalist philosophies telling me that I can’t trust the medical profession and all I need to do is work on myself or see some energy healer.

Honestly. I’ve tried all that anyway, and I think it rocks (hello, I’m a practicing psychic for goodness sakes) but…  that is such a limited and medieval view of the world.

I will take each day as it comes.  I will use the many conventional and alternative choices available to me.

I will accept that for now my feet won’t be touching solid ground for a while, and that I must go with the flow. (There – how much more New Age can you get? 🙂  )

If I can’t swim, I can float. I can give in to the current and see where it will take me.

If I relax, I can even muster a little optimism and a curiosity for what may come.

I’m doing my best to stay open, to live from my heart and find something beautiful in every single day.  And you know what?  If I don’t get caught up in my head, if I don’t lose myself to fear, it’s not so hard to do…

There are rich blessings in this journey.  And so much to be grateful for.  It’s all a matter of perspective.

Not knowing…

Image from www.colourfully.eu

Image from www.colorfully.eu

“Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering.”~ Paulo Coelho

Is it better to know or not know?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself so many times that I can no longer trust the answer.

I am dancing a slow dance with something that is robbing me of my life, in pieces so tiny and inconsequential that it seems, some days, like it’s all in my imagination.

Constantly I adjust my gaze.  Shift to a new paradigm of normal. And each time my world diminishes a little bit more.

When my gaze is recentered I look for the positive, the uplifting, the beautiful.

At times, I’m Blessed with expansion. Or sometimes I force it and pay the price later. But isn’t that what life is for?  For living?

I try not to look beyond the boundaries of my shrunken world.  To do that is to long for a life I can’t have right now. Possibilities and choices left far behind.  I’ve seen what that does to people.  It fills them with bitterness and regret. It sucks the goodness out of what remains.

We, all of us, live with diminishment, doors closed, things ended, storms that come and wash it all away.

And if it wasn’t for this unknown thing, I never would have explored this rich inner world, and the worlds beyond that. I think that’s a fair trade-off.

It’s still a beautiful life. It’s still good here in my little corner, even as the storms pass over.  The trick is learning to dance in the rain, while I wait for the sun to come out again…

Breathing in Life…

Image from aimandachieve.blogspot.com

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” 
~ Albert Einstein

Yesterday was wonderful from start to finish. And yet it was also the most ordinary of days. I didn’t win lotto, there was no major excitement, no outstanding achievement. But I DID get to share my day with a gorgeous friend.

What was so special about yesterday? Simply this: we are both alive, and grateful for every breath.

Fourteen years ago my darling friend Carly-Jay Metcalfe had a double lung transplant, so we quietly and happily celebrated her Transplanniversary.  We also celebrated my yay-I-can-get-a-stupid-virus-and-my-heart-still-keeps-on-beating physicality.

We sang at the top of our lungs as we drove down the hill from Possum Creek to Byron Bay for breakfast.  We savoured our coffees and meals, read papers, discussed news and books and art, and laughed about our appalling efforts at Dr Sketchy’s the night before.

We breathed in Byron’s fresh, salty air and enjoyed the early sunshine.  Whales and dolphins danced just offshore.  Surfers cut through crystal waves.  Children frolicked in the shallows.  That’s nothing out of the ordinary around here, but we looked at it all as if it was the first time we were seeing it.

When we got home we did some writing, drank cups of tea, had naps, and wandered around on the farm.

For dinner we listened to music, and feasted on sashimi, beers and green tea, followed by Thai Black Sticky Rice with fat fresh strawberries for dessert.

We sat in front of the fire, patted the dogs, and laughed a lot.  There were a few stray tears, but for loved ones we’ve lost, rather than for ourselves.

Yesterday, and I hope for many days to come, we breathed in life.

Life is sweet. And tinged with salt water. ♥

Making Peace with Right Now while Holding a Picture of a Brighter Tomorrow

This beautiful image from utne.com

Don’t let your current reality dictate your future possibility.  Hold true to your dreams. Miracles are entirely possible if you dispense with miserable thinking!~ Nicole Cody

The reason for today’s post comes from something seemingly ordinary. But what’s ordinary for some can be positively miraculous for others.

Bert - patiently waiting for me on the stair mountain

Yesterday I walked up the stairs carrying two laptops and a ridiculously heavy bag of books. Ordinary enough, hey? But not for someone with cardiomyopathy. For over two years I have struggled with stairs, let alone carrying a load at the same time. Stairs usually leave me breathless as my enlarged heart battles to get blood and oxygen around to all the right places with the sudden burst of physical activity.

Yesterday I got to the top of the steps, walked into my office and then thought, “Oh. My. God.”

No chest pain, no panting or racing heart – just normal old got to the top of the stairs and kept walking.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, to me it proves a very important point:

Changing your thinking can change your life.

There is no point in fighting the reality of your current situation. If you’re fat, you’re fat.  If your finances are a mess, they’re a mess. If you procrastinate, well that’s just what you’ve been doing.  Stop fighting it, making excuses for it, or pretending it isn’t happening. Accept what is.

Accepting what is, without judgement, is the first step in making positive change in your life.

The second step is letting go of your attachment to what is.

Where you are today is the result of yesterday’s thinking, yesterday’s actions, yesterday’s focus or lack of focus.

The third step is to hold a clear picture in your mind of what you DO want in your life, and find a way to summon positive emotion around that.

According to the Law of Attraction, (there’s a good definition of the Law of Attraction here) whatever you focus your attention on, is what you draw to you in your life. Resisting or fighting anything, dwelling on it, obsessing on it, worrying on it, speaking of it – all those actions keep that thing you don’t want fixed firmly on your horizon.

This quote from Abraham really sums it up:

You will notice that those who speak most of prosperity, have it. Those who speak most of health, have it. Those who speak most of sickness, have it. Those who speak most of poverty, have it. It is Law. It can be no other way… The way you feel is your point of attraction, and so, the Law of Attraction is most understood when you see yourself as a magnet getting more and more of the way you feel. When you feel lonely, you attract more loneliness. When you feel poor, you attract more poverty. When you feel sick, you attract more sickness. When you feel unhappy, you attract more unhappiness. When you feel healthy and vital and alive and prosperous—you attract more of all of those things.

— Abraham

When my doctors first gave me a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy caused by a virus which had induced a heart attack, after everything else I’ve been through, I took a day or two to come back to a place of calm after the shock of their news. I accepted what they’d told me, and I set about making peace with that.  I decided to make every day count, and that has been a lasting Blessing in my life.

My doctors also told me that after two years, there was no chance of improvement, and to expect a decline, which might be steady or fast, and that would lead to needing a transplant, or possibly, death.

If I have cardiomyopathy, then that is my current reality. After the news I mourned, grieved, got over myself and moved on. I have made choices to focus on health and on life.  I have embraced natural therapies, food as medicine, and visualisation. I live with it, and I embrace the current reality of it.  It is what it is.  Sure I have had many reminders of my health situation, such as chest pain and lack of breath, but I have not let it define me, and I have often forgotten it is even there!

Each morning in my meditation, and each night before I go to bed, I see myself as healthy, vibrant and living a full life where I can share my joy and gifts with others. Why bother with this, when my life doesn’t look like that now?  Because reality has a funny way of changing itself over time…

And yesterday my reality shifted. Today I am in a different space!

I have always believed in holding a picture of a brighter tomorrow, of embracing optimism, doing what I can, and turning the rest over to the Universe.  I expect miracles. And in expecting them, they show up in my life.

So what about you? Stop looking at your life as it is and being unhappy with that.  Accept what is.  Forgive yourself and others if that is what’s needed. And then find a place in your life where you can summon the smallest amount of gratitude, appreciation or happiness. (Don’t know how to do that? Here’s some info that will help!)

Hold a picture in your heart of a brighter tomorrow. Trust. Cherish and nurture your dreams.  Miracles happen daily. They can happen for you too! ♥ xx

The gift of impermanence OR Live like you’re dying…

A few years ago I suffered a heart attack.  It was induced by a virus, and it absolutely floored me.  I ignored the symptoms the evening they began, and it was not until late the next day that I took myself to hospital.  As I lay in Accident and Emergency with doctors and nurses fussing round me, and then as I lay on my own, wired up to all manner of machines in a curtained cubicle I had this sudden realisation – This is serious and I might actually die!  I wasn’t afraid of dying.  What bothered me were my regrets.

I lay in that cold room, and counted the hours as they slid by.  One thing blazed in front of me the whole time – I hadn’t spent enough time just hanging out with my husband, and I hadn’t written a book. My life had been brought into stark focus.  The two things that mattered the most to me were the things to which I’d devoted the least energy.

There was no ignoring my heart as it kicked and bucked and clenched. I was lucky there was no lasting damage, and I came home to begin my recovery.

Almost a year later to the day I got a small paralysis tick in my ear. At the time it was a mild inconvenience.  But that tiny beastie sparked off cardiomyopathy in me. I now have a big fat heart. It’s improved over time, but my heart still tweaks me now and again. I’m affected by heat, and find it hard to carry loads or walk up steep hills.

Sounds bad, doesn’t it? I don’t think of it like that.  I think of it as a constant reminder to live with the right priorities.  Since my heart attack I have now written three completed manuscripts and am working on a fourth.  I had two of them shortlisted for the QWC Hachette Manuscript Development Program. I spend plenty of time with my husband, and other people I care deeply about, and much less time with people who don’t matter.

We’re all going to die.  We don’t know when this crazy ride might end for ourselves or someone we love.  I’ve learned the value of life, and I actively seek joy and cultivate gratitude.  My wish for you, as we move into 2012, is that you find your priorities and fill your life with what matters to you.