A Nicole Update and A Little Lesson In Surrender

“After all, the true seeing is within.” 
George Eliot, Middlemarch

 

Did you know that the energies of November are great for all forms of metaphysical work, for clarifying our Life Path and for honouring a life-calling by owning our capacity to share knowledge? It’s also a month for honouring our connection to the natural world, and to the nature spirits of the Earth. And I had intended to do all of that, in my spare time, after doing all the other things on my very big and busy November To-Do List.

But the Universe had other plans.

It started with a scratchy throat at the end of October. I’d just come back from holidays, I was well rested and feeling fabulous, and I didn’t think anything of it.

The sore throat lasted a few days, my voice got a little raspy, and then a high fever kicked in. From there it was all dramatically downhill. I was in and out of doctors’ offices and hospital. A virus, a severe chest infection, a raft of drugs, and then a bucketload of extra complications. Such is the reality of being immuno-compromised and having Late Stage Lyme Disease.

I might have coped if it was just the infection. But it was the other things that happened which really threw me. My bladder became irritated and painful. Then neurological urinary incontinence kicked in. Inflammation and infection in my body meant that my bladder would suddenly empty with no warning and no ability on my part to control it. I went back to plastic backed bed-sheets and adult diapers. 🙁

My heart raced and thumped with arrhythmia bad enough to wake me up at night.

Feeling less than fab, and with almost no functional vision.

I lost vision in my ‘good’ eye. After suffering Bells Palsy some years ago the right side of my face has never been the same again and the muscle control has never quite come back. My right eye often experiences blurred vision or becomes lazy, especially when I am tired. My left eye is my strong eye but it is also the one that is affected by Lyme. When my optic nerve becomes inflamed I lose vision in that eye. After a few days of high-dose antibiotics for my chest infection, I woke up one morning to almost total loss of vision in my good eye and reduced vision in my weak one. Suddenly I couldn’t see well enough to read or watch television. I started tripping and bumping into things. So I couldn’t read your messages or answer them.

 

Then I lost my voice.

My fatigue was off the scale. All I could do was lie in bed. Right when I’d had a million things planned and so much work on my plate.

To top it all off just as I was beginning to improve I had an extreme reaction to one of my drugs which caused bloody urine and off-the-chart bladder pain.

This was not how I had expected to spend November!

I’ll admit it – when I lost my eyesight I came very close to sinking into deep despair. I had a few very messy days. (Yep, I howled like a baby.) But then I got home to the farm and as I lay in bed each day listening to the birds and the wind in the trees I realised that I could still see auras and that my eye with almost no functional vision could see energy in great detail. Ben picked flowers from the garden and put them beside my bed so I could smell roses and gardenias and heliotrope.

I made a decision earlier this month. I could sit in an ongoing pity-party or I could surrender to the moment and use my time to refocus on my inward journey. I couldn’t read or write or talk, but I could meditate. I could pray my mala. And the inner world and the Quantum Field had plenty of magic to keep me engaged.

There have been complications since then, and other problems. But it’s been okay. Because I just shifted out of my body and back into the Zero Pont Field and the All-That-Is for a while.

So, that’s where I’ve been these past few weeks. I’ve been interdimensional – a traveller through space and time. I haven’t had such an intense spiritual journey for many years.

And out of it has come clarity about my own direction, so much new material to share with you, new courses and many, many messages.

I’m finally on the mend. My eyesight is still limited. My bladder is still raw and agonisingly painful. My voice is still raspy. And my battery is still flat. My hair is full of knots and I can’t see to fix it. But my soul is shiny-bright, and I am optimistic and grateful and loved-up right down to my bones.

Life doesn’t always give you what you want, but sometimes it gives you what you need.

This week’s energies support thinking about your dreams and goals and giving yourself space to ask and seek answers for the big questions in life. I sincerely hope you make some time to get off life’s hamster wheel and feel into your heart and your own soul wisdom to help you see what the next move can be for you so that your life becomes more satisfying and meaningful.

Sending the biggest hugs and love your way, Nicole  xx

PS: Looking for some extra help and support for your spiritual journey in the year ahead? These are the very last day to pre-order our gorgeous 2019 Planner, Meditation Mala and membership packages at the special rates. They’ll be officially launched and on sale after Thursday but the prices and packages will change, so get in quick if you’re looking for extra savings! You can find everything you need here.

Home treatment for dodgy airways – thank goodness for my awesome doctor who manages me so well!

Victory in the shape of an outing to the local shopping centre yesterday. My first in weeks! I didn’t walk far or do much, but it was thrilling.

 

Wishing for Good Veins

“I have druggie veins. After so much intubation they are scarred and flat and tired and difficult to handle. It’s an odd thing to confess but the truth is all I notice is people’s hands and their veins these days. I have as much vein envy as any junkie. Oh, I think. Look how fat and juicy that vein is. I could get a cannula into that myself!” ~ Nicole Cody

 

It’s IV day for me. A regular practice, and one that keeps me upright and functioning. These IVs have kept my immune system boosted, they’ve helped me overcome life-threatening infections on more than one occasion, and they allow me to stay functional despite having chronic late-stage Lyme disease. Right now I’m battling an ongoing sinus infection left over from my horror flu earlier this year. It’s slowly wearing me down and I need to get on top of it. Hence the IV.

As much as I put on my happy face, I don’t enjoy them. With each year it has become that little bit more difficult to get an easy insertion or a bruise-free/trauma-free spot after the previous session. My doctor is a dream – so clever and patient, and he and his team work marvels. I know today will be a good day. But still, I’m always anxious until the needle is in the vein, and the fluids are flowing, and everything is proceeding well.

Afterwards, I’ll call my friend Carly, who also has recalcitrant veins (both of us have experienced the joys of having multiple attempts that resulted in nothing but bruises or the inglorious humiliation of having to have your IV line go through a vein in your foot – like all the best druggies who have destroyed all their other useable spots). Carls understands, and we unpack our latest experiences and share notes and support. Two friends with chronic illness finding solace in having someone else who has walked a similar path.

Wish me luck! See it all happening easily and well for me. Thanks a million,

Nicole ❤ xx

A Week Of Wonders

“Well, I always know what I want. And when you know what you want–you go toward it. Sometimes you go very fast, and sometimes only an inch a year. Perhaps you feel happier when you go fast. I don’t know. I’ve forgotten the difference long ago, because it really doesn’t matter, so long as you move.” 
Ayn Rand

Hello, Lovelies!

Don’t you love the glorious blue sky (see top pic) that greeted me at breakfast yesterday on my last day in the Adelaide Hills?

I sat in a cafe and ate on my own, and spent time planning my week ahead. It was wonderful – my table was next to an open fire and I found myself with plenty of quiet thinking time and reflection on the week that was, before I went back to my room to pack and head to the airport to fly back to Brisbane.

Back in Brisbane as I waited at the carousel for my luggage I watched the people coming and going, and I marvelled that I was one of them.

In the past week I have run an evening event, conducted two days of private consultations, been out to dinner and all over Adelaide exploring with friends and then attended a very full-on three day conference that included one late night and very long days. I’ve also drunk coffee and enjoyed a few alcoholic beverages, eaten cake and chocolate and all kinds of other yummy things and managed to still feel good.

Somehow my health has held up for it all. More than that, I’ve enjoyed myself and felt like a normal human being for most of the time I was away.

Look – that’s me at the conference! (see pic below)

That might not sound very remarkable to you. But the truth of my life has been that most of the past fifteen years have been spent in my pyjamas, or in comfortable clothes – staying very close to home, and being in bed early. As someone with late-stage lyme disease and all sorts of other health complications, independent travel has not been on my radar. I’ve always needed someone with me, and I’ve needed plenty of rest and down days.

So this past week has been a glorious victory.

My brain has worked. My body has worked. And I’ve been humbled again and again to still be here on this planet when I’ve had so many close calls that I thought would have ended my life before now.

So for all of you who are currently struggling with health issues or anything else that is slowing you down I want to encourage you not to give up. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever see a day again when I’d be well enough to venture forth in life on my own. Sure I’m still working within limits, and I still nurse myself along. I’m careful in my choices. But I HAVE choices, and that’s a miraculous and incredible thing.

It’s back to herbal tea and organic vegetables and early nights and my normal routine again today. I’m looking forward to it!

Don’t give up on your dreams, my friends. Miracles happen every day.

Love you! Nicole ❤ xx
(And yep, that’s me happily upgraded to business for the flight home – yippee!)

PS – Also, I just need to tell you – some days I just want to jump up and down and run around screaming I’M ALIVE AND IT’S BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

An ordinary night of magic!

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

We’re in the city right now, and last night something quite wonderful happened. Our neighbour joined Ben and I and we walked a few blocks down the road in the mild winter air to our local Japanese restaurant.

After a casual and delicious dinner we strolled home again.

That’s it. That’s all that happened.

No biggy, right?

Except that it was. When you live with chronic illness it’s amazing how small your world can become. For the first time in a long while I went out at night. I walked to a destination and home again. And had the energy to do all of that and still feel good about it.

I hardly ever go out at night, and so to combine dinner, friends and walking feels like some small kind of very tasty miracle.

Hooray for feeling better, and for life!
Hugs and love to you, Nicole  xoxo

Join our Book Reading Challenge for June 2018

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”   
~  Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

Do you love to read?

In January of 2017 a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge. It was a fine year of reading, friendship and sharing of our love of stories and all things book-related. Now, in 2018, with a successful Challenge already completed, it’s time to embark on a new year of reading adventures.

This year the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Team has decided to nominate Pencils of Promise as the charity we’ll be supporting through our Book Reading Challenge. Pencils of Promise build schools in the developing world, train teachers, and support kids and communities to be able to access education. In 2018 more than 1 in every ten children around the world is illiterate and in developing countries, that figure is 1 in 3. I’m hoping that our loyal blog community can change that, and help provide opportunities for some of those kids to be able to read, write and learn so that their lives can open out in front of them in more meaningful ways.

Would you like to join us? Let me explain the Challenge to you:

It involves four simple steps:

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book, short story or journal article each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when. It could be an e-book or an audio-book. It can be any kind of book, story or article at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. A comment piece, investigative journalism, or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book, story or article you are currently reading or listening to here or have finished during the month on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest any books, stories, articles or audiobooks that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of resources that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Sign up to become a Team Member of the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Fundraising Team for Pencils of Promise. Here’s the link for you to join.
  4. Download the Book Tracker. Each month write the name of any book/story/article you have read in the corresponding month. It’s fine to add more than one. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read or go directly to Pencils of Promise and make a donation there. It doesn’t have to be much. Whatever you can afford will be great. Here’s the Book Tracker for you to download – just click on this link: BOOK-TRACKER-3. There’s a space for you to write down your reading wish list. Then start filling in the Monthly Tracker when you’ve read your first book.
  5. During the year I will put up a Book Challenge Post on the fourth Saturday of every month so that we can discuss the books and stories we’ve read or listened to, and swap ideas and reviews. I’ll also be asking you to donate the money you set aside from your completed books and stories to Pencils of Promise. When you donate that money is up to you. Just make sure you have registered as a team member first. It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings. The world needs more readers. If you want to team up for this challenge that’s a great idea too!
  6. During the year we will also be holding a Read-A-Thon so that you can get your family, friends and workmates to sponsor you for the books and stories you read or listen to. It will be a great way for you to indulge in some reading for a good cause, and to raise some extra money towards our goal.

Download this: BOOK-TRACKER-3

I’d love you to get your friends involved, so please feel free to share this post far and wide.

All year we will practice kindness to ourselves by reading.

At year’s end, and at various points before that, we will pass some of that kindness on to someone else in the form of a donation to help Pencils of Promise deliver more readers and writers to the world.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge for 2018. Want to join us? Go add your name below, join our Fundraising Team and don’t forget to let us know what books have you been reading or listening to this past month.

And now for June…

Let’s end the month off with the list of books, stories, articles and audiobooks we’ve already enjoyed in June.

I’ve had a crazy busy month, so my reading time has been limited. I read ‘Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved’ by Kate Bowler – it’ a memoir about Kate’s journey after being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Kate shares her journey of grief as she contemplates her own mortality. Although the subject matter seems depressing Kate’s faith, humour and faith shine thought, and most importantly I found it a life and love affirming book in the very best of ways.

I also devoured a couple of audio books – ‘The Thank You Economy’ by Gary Vaynerchuck was published in 2011, so it’s not a recent release, but I love Gary V’s work and if you are an entreprenuer this book is fantastic for understanding and navigating the digital age. I also listened to ‘Believe Me – My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease’ by Yolanda Hadid. As a fellow Lyme disease sufferer I found myself nodding along at the absurdity of our situation, suffering from a disease that is little understood (and even worse is Australia, is denied to exist!). Yolanda has done a brilliant job of documenting her symptoms and life – and it’s a tool against the naysayers who thought she was faking her illness. She also covers many treatment options and ideas, and manages to infuse her book with an upbeat hope.

I’m really keen to hear what you’ve been reading or listening to as well!

Go ahead and tell us in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading!

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx

 

Keeping It Real For You

“A good selfie is when you successfully capture the feeling of that very moment!” 
Anamika Mishra

 

Yesterday I ventured out into the world for the first time in weeks. This flu has really laid me low, and I’m still far from well but yesterday Ben, Cafe Dog and I went out to check the mail at our post box, to food shop for his mum and to grab a quick coffee.

Harry Dog was thrilled to finally leave the house too. Me? I was not quite with it, but grateful to be dressed and upright.

Makeup and hair styling? All too hard. I was clean, I smelled okay, and I’d swapped pyjamas for going-out clothes. As far as I’m concerned that’s a win!

We were out for less than an hour, by which time I was completely exhausted, but it was worth it to feel like part of the human race again.

I know. I can hear you saying it. I’m damaging my personal brand with these awful selfies. First it was thigh gap, and now real and unadulterated images of me feeling crappy and fluey and still quite horrid (and still with bad hair, wrinkles and oldness).

Oh well.

I’m really a bit over all of these images and stories in my social media feed about how to lose weight, look younger, have bigger boobs, fewer wrinkles, smaller thighs (or thigh gap!) or whiter teeth, and all of those images of perfectly happy people having perfectly wonderful lives.

Does your life look like that?

Mine doesn’t. And sweethearts it is absolutely fine if yours doesn’t either.

Today I want you to embrace yourself just as you are. Give yourself a hug or a virtual high-five from me if you’ve turned up for life today – no matter how hard things are right now. Give yourself an elephant stamp if you managed some personal hygiene. Have a gold star if you accomplished something on your list. Kind to yourself or others? Seriously – you deserve a medal! That’s the world I want to live in. I want a world filled with people who are honest and vulnerable and real – who show up courageously when life is hard, who reach out to others when they have the strength to do so, and who ask for help when they are struggling to manage on their own.

Let’s be kind to all those people with perfectly curated social media lives too. Because I can guarantee you that behind those images will be the same kinds of health dramas, money problems, relationship issues, depression, anxiety and ‘stuff’ that all the rest of us experience. They were just careful to edit those bits out before they put their life on display.

That’s one gift that chronic illness has given me – I’ve realised what matters, and it certainly isn’t about living my life to impress other people.

Lovelies, let’s agree to just keep being ourselves and to support others to be themselves too. Doesn’t that take off an enormous amount of pressure? Without that pressure we’ve freed up untold energy to put to much more constructive uses. Hooray for that. Hooray for real.

Biggest hugs to you from my personal-brand trashing self, Nicole xx

 

 

That 2am Place – A Lesson In Mindfulness for Insomniacs

“It was that sort of sleep in which you wake every hour and think to yourself that you have not been sleeping at all; you can remember dreams that are like reflections, daytime thinking slightly warped.” 
Kim Stanley Robinson

I’m still in the grip of this flu. Not only that, I’m stuck in the city so that I can be close to a hospital while my heart continues to misbehave.

Here I am again, awake at 2am (which is when I am writing this – I’ll schedule it to post all by itself so I can sneak back to bed later and hopefully finally get some more sleep). Each night I’m in bed early, and I’ll fall asleep easily. But then my heart wakes me up, sometime between 11pm and 2am, pounding and crashing and racing in my chest. I’ll sit up in bed, distressed, catch my breath and cough a little and then quieten myself and try to bring my heart back to a normal pace using meditation and my breath. I’ll have a nice big glass of water with magnesium too, which sometimes helps. Still, it’s a bother.

Once upon a time, years and years ago, I used to panic at stuff like this. I was an amateur back then and worried excessively about every creak groan, pain and weird symptom. Now this kind of stuff is background noise mostly, and I have a raft of management techniques I use while I wait to see what my body will do and if I will need medical attention or whether it will settle on its own. One of my favourite techniques is mindfulness.

Mindfulness has become a soothing companion for me over the years. I use it three ways. I thought that by sharing this you might be able to add it in to your coping skills toolkit too. This technique works for pain, anxiety and many other kinds of problems.

  1. I become mindful of my body. Sitting or lying quietly I bring my attention to my breath. Then I take a tour, starting at the top of my head and working all the way to the tips of my toes. At each part of my body I draw my focus inwards and observe. How does my body feel? Any pain? Hot or cold? Any sensations or things I need to be aware of? Can I use my awareness to bring control, assistance and calm to my body? I’ve found that this simple act often dials down my pain, calms my heart and breathing, and lets me work through and out the other side of whatever is going on. Thinking about pain generally is very different to feeling into it specifically. When you connect with your pain through mindfulness and being in the moment everything becomes much more manageable.
  2. I become mindful of what’s going on outside my body. Always I bring my attention back to my breath first. Then I reach outside myself with my senses. What noises can I hear? How far can I hear when I reach beyond myself? Where does that awareness take me? Is there a breeze or any other kind of weather I can detect? What animals or people can I hear? If I can see the sky I pay particular attention to that. I let myself dissolve into the world around me, so that I am at the centre and life surrounds me. (This is a brilliant technique for developing your psychic senses too!) If my eyes are open, what can I see? What can I feel? Can I feel the texture of the sheets, or the cool of the night? This brings me a sense of reconnection and belonging. I see that I am more than just my body.
  3. I become mindful of my thoughts and emotions. By now, having spent time in mindfulness of my body and surroundings I am usually calmer. I sit or lie quietly and bring my focus to my breath. Then I stay quiet and open, waiting to see what arises for me. I tune in to any thoughts or emotions – not grabbing at them but letting them float up into my awareness. When I recognise a thought or emotion I sit with it, to see what it means for me. I do this with love and compassion for myself. Often this simple act of witnessing will dispel worry and uncrowd my overactive mind. This, in turn, soothes my physical body and often enables me to return to sleep.

Once I am calm again and things have settled I might go back to bed, or stay up for a little longer and write, or perhaps stand at the window or sit on a chair and watch the slumbering world for a while.

There’s a gorgeous moon tonight, a streaky golden sky, and the air is warm and slightly salty. It feels like there will be early morning fog here in Brisbane. It’s May and I am wearing only a thin cotton nightdress. My feet are bare. It’s almost winter, but it could be a summer night.

As I stand on our balcony I see a lone black and white cat walking down the centre of our street, placing her paws very deliberately, looking warily as she patrols. A possum and her baby are creeping along the power lines and there are fruit bats crying noisily and flapping all about the fig tree across the way. A rescue helicopter flies high overhead enroute to hospital and I send them love, light and my prayers for their journey. Meanwhile, the street sleeps on…

Hopefully soon so will I.

Sending much love to you, Nicole ❤ xx

 

My Latest Obscenities…

“Whenever you speak the truth, someone will be offended.” 
Laurence Overmire

Yesterday I posted about having the flu (no fun!) and with that post I included pictures of myself showing me as I am right now – sick with the flu!

Thanks to everyone who sent me messages of love, care and support. I’m so grateful for the wave of positive energy and blessings you sent my way. Right now I’m being very well cared for, including by Nurse Rufous who has taken the reigns from Nurse Bert.

Inevitably though I had a few comments yesterday suggesting that these pictures were a bad idea. I also had a message from an entrepreneurial friend who suggested that the pics might ‘harm my brand’. Apparently the photos are less than flattering, and in the one where I am asleep I not only look sick but ‘old and wrinkled with bad hair.’

Yep, it’s true.

People, I recently turned fifty. I have chronic late-stage lyme. I also have the flu. I’ve been REALLY ill. I look trashed because I am. And I’m not going to apologise for that. Old and wrinkly with bad hair? I own it. Luckily it’s only a picture because I probably smelled bad too! Looking stylish and well-groomed when I’m acutely sick doesn’t even rate on my priority list. (Please note that this is different to being chronically sick, where you feel exhausted, in pain or suffer ongoing problems on a daily basis and in that space making an effort with your appearance can actually help you feel better about yourself. Also, many of us suffer invisible illnesses – meaning that you CAN’T SEE the problem – so you might wrongly attribute someone looking good with being well, which is often an incorrect assumption.)

I also received a message from a young entrepreneur who is just starting out in business. She reached out to me (think SPAM) from a forum for entrepreneurs where I happen to be a member.

Her message? To be prepared for a ‘stunningly sexy summer’ she has a great invitation-only program to maximise our thigh gap. To be selected we had to send a photo of our existing thigh gap (image could be up to two years old as long as it was indicative of our current thigh gap situation) so she could determine what level of program we’d need to be on. There was nothing to be ashamed of, her message assured me. I needed to be brave and send in that photo! Then all we had to do was pay our money, follow her thigh gap program and self-worth would be ours. Also, men dig thigh gaps.

I was feeling a little pernickety yesterday at being told how much my life would change if only I could be disciplined enough to have a decent thigh gap (yes, thigh gap is a thing!). I honestly have more important things to think about, like my health, living by my values, looking after the planet, being kind, writing, supporting my community, living each day as well as I can. Still, I dutifully sent in the only photo I could find of my thigh gap. (Did I mention pernickety?)

Within twenty minutes my inbox exploded. Message after message rolled in. This young entrepreneur was outraged. I was horribly offensive. Sick even. What did I think I was doing, sending her such a disgraceful photo? I disgusted her.

‘Also, is that a WEE thing????? That is SO inappropriate. SOOOOO OFFENSIVE. WTF Nicole?????’, she shouted at me in big stabby caps. ‘WTF???? YOU’RE DESPICABLE AND OBSCENE!!!’

Wee thing? You bet! Here’s my thigh gap after my second emergency surgery to repair a tear in my bladder post-hysterectomy back in September 2016. That tube is my catheter. The yellow stuff is indeed wee (or urine if we are being specific).

The wee’s a good colour. You might also note that there is a healthy amount of thigh gap going on there. So I’m pretty happy with this photo.

Even though it’s offensive.

So, to anyone I have offended with my oldness, my bad hair, my wrinkles and unflattering selfies, my posts about health issues or with my highly offensive thigh gap with catheter…

I’m not sorry!

This is my life, and I’m grateful for it. I won’t hide the ugly and hard bits from you ever. Why should I be ashamed of being human? Why should I feel or be treated as ‘less than’ if I am not young and svelte and in perfect health with an extreme sports yoga-body, perfect hair and total hipsterness?

There’s an unsubscribe button here on my blog, and you can always unfollow or unfriend me if you’re finding this through social media. Because from here on in I am sure there will be more bad hair days and wrinkles and who knows what else, and I’ll blog about it all.

Much love, Nicole xx

 

Me, Flu and You!

 

“There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments — there are consequences.” 
Robert G. Ingersoll

You might have noticed I’ve dropped off the face of the Earth these past few weeks.

There’s a reason for that.

I’ve just come face-to-face with a very nasty strain of influenza.

For most people flu is a mild illness that causes sore throat, runny nose, fever and chills which last several days. But for people like me who are immuno-compromised and for other high-risk categories such as the very young, the elderly and people suffering from chronic illness or underlying health conditions such as asthma and diabetes, influenza can be a very different illness.

If you’ve only recently arrived at my blog you might not know that I suffer from late-stage lyme disease, multi-organ and system compromise, and ongoing heart issues among other things. I’ve been to hell and back with my health and more than once in the past few decades the dark bird of death has sat companionably on my shoulder.

Still, I’m so much better now. These past few months I’ve been the strongest and most vital I have been in years. My improved health is the result of a great team, a regime, ongoing management and many, many hours of my life. Most of that hard work is invisible to the world. Instead what I hear is how great I look these days. Thanks. I’m working on it! 35 years worth of working on it, and counting…

When you don’t live in the world of chronic illness you might not realise that even when we look and feel well we usually have ongoing issues we are managing and our underlying immune systems may be weak. If our immune systems are in fact stronger than they have been it still only takes a few bad nights of limited sleep, of stress or of us overdoing our physical energetic limits for us to end up in a place where it is so much easier for us to succumb to infections. Sometimes we succumb anyway, even when we are healthy, because our immunity is just not as strong as other members of the community.

So that’s where Influenza A H3N2 (also known as Aussie Flu) and I collided a few weeks ago.

I’m hypervigilant when it comes to germs. I never touch my face, especially when we’re out. I wash my hands well, and always before eating. If I’m out I’ll use a hand sanitiser before eating and after using a shopping cart or touching any surfaces. On planes and in confined spaces I’ll wear a bamboo fabric mask impregnated with anti-bacterial and anti-microbial essential oils. I avoid people who are ill, and will avoid crowds and places that might put me at a higher risk of infection. I’ve managed to travel overseas, go to festivals and events and to holiday well several times, all without becoming ill and even as those around me have been sick – which I put down to me being vigilant and also having a great medical team caring for me from week to week.

So how did I get sick this time?

A client came to my home while she was recovering from having been very unwell. She didn’t disclose this to me and as she greeted me she coughed directly into my face. She was less than thirty centimetres away from me and her spittle covered my face and went into my eyes. She laughed, a little embarrassed, and wiped at my face with her hands. ‘Sorry, Love,’ she said, ‘just getting over the flu.’

My heart sank. But I tried to be hopeful that nothing would eventuate.

Less than twenty-four hours later I developed a sore throat. My glands came up in my neck, groin and armpits. Within a few hours I had a raging fever and could barely stand. I cancelled the rest of my week and put myself to bed, hoping that rest and an aggressive regime of herbs and Vitamin C might limit the damage and have me up again in a few days.

None of that helped. Overnight I deteriorated in a way that really scared me. I went from high fevers to chills and back to fevers again, was so weak I couldn’t sit upright, my throat inflamed and swollen so it felt like swallowing razor blades, my entire body ached, and I had a stabbing headache bad enough that I lost vision in my left eye. Eventually I could barely breathe, and my heart went into tachycardia. Add in chest pain and vomiting. Yep, awful!

I stayed like that for days, alternating between sleep and delirium. My doctors and cardiologist checked me out and decided I was better managed at home to avoid the risk of pneumonia and advised me to only come back to the hospital if my heart rate went to a certain level and stayed there over an extended time, or if my chest pain or breathing difficulties became too severe.

The last fortnight has been scary and hard, especially with all of the chest pain and arrhythmias. If I am honest I’ve also struggled psychologically with being so ill again after having felt on top of the world just a few weeks ago.

I’m through the worst of it now. A year ago this infection may have killed me (and yes, every day I give thanks for having such awesome doctors in my life, and my amazing local GP-acupuncturist and team whom I’m convinced are my secret weapon in the return to vitality from Lyme – thanks Dr Adam and Jodi!).

My symptoms are slowly easing, although my heart is still misbehaving. I currently look like I went one too many rounds in the boxing ring with a hefty opponent. And I’m earth-shatteringly exhausted. I have no energy for anything at all.

That’s how I know I’m still unwell. All I want to do is sleep. And that’s how I’ll know when I am better. I’ll be itching to get up and do something!

Meanwhile I have made a promise to Ben, my staff and my doctors that I will respect the flu and keep resting. I will not come back to full-on life too quickly. I will not overdo it and set myself back.

So, that’s where I’ve been. You know it’s never good news when I go quiet…

Think you might have the flu? Stay home and in bed if you can. Rest and keep up your fluid intake. Please, if you’re unwell spare a thought for others whose immune systems might not be as robust as yours. Practice good hand hygiene, cover your mouth when you cough, cover your nose when you sneeze, and don’t leave used tissues lying around. If you know someone who is pregnant, elderly, very young or who has a health issue avoid them while you’re unwell.  Seek medical advice or go to hospital if you spike and sustain a high fever, have trouble breathing or become breathless, if you have chest pain or severe abdominal pain, if you become dizzy or confused or if you have sudden severe vomiting. Not sick? Think about getting the flu vaccination, especially if you are in a high-risk category.

Thanks to everyone who has sent messages and checked up on me. I’m so grateful for your love and support. I promise I’ll be back on deck just as soon as I have my doctors’ blessings and enough energy to share with all of you as well as having enough for myself. Another week or two and I’m sure I’ll be just fine!

Biggest hugs and love, Nicole xx

Three In a Row!

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.” 
W.C. Fields

This morning I’m celebrating a minor miracle at my house.

For the past three nights I have gone to bed, fallen asleep and then woken in the morning.

It’s been years (at least fifteen!) since I’ve had an uninterrupted night’s sleep, and I can’t think of the last time I had three in a row.

Usually I’ve found it hard to fall asleep because of pain. Or pain has woken me up. Or a bladder infection. Or both.

At my worst I was waking up hourly because of my bladder. And a good night meant that I’d get up maybe three times to pee.

The longest time I’d go between waking for any reason was maybe three hours.

And then this miracle happened.

Three nights where I have gone to bed, fallen asleep, slept all night, woke up in the morning.

I am finding it hard to explain how incredible this feels. How marvellous. How miraculous.

I went to bed and slept. Then I woke up and it was morning.

Actually, I’m crying now, writing this.

It’s amazing. Wow.

Dear Lymies and friends with seemingly intractable health problems, don’t ever give up. If it changes for me it can change for you too.

Biggest hugs, Nicole  xx