February 12, 2020

Pinch me!

Journal Entry #82

Today was the day.

This was our second full day here in Bequia, and a day dedicated to conquering the next hurtle.

Beach Day.

Yesterday, we drove the island tip to tip and scouted the beaches, familiarized ourselves with where everything is.  It is only 7miles long, but the roads seem to be straight up, tight switchbacks and steep drop offs on the narrow roads.  We still have to remind ourselves to drive on the wrong side of the road as sometimes we find ourselves drifting back into the familiarity of North American driving. The horn has become our friend.  Luckily, no one goes all that fast on these roads and everyone seems to be on Island Time, never in a rush to get anywhere.  It is starting to feel like time doesn’t even exist here.

Hungry?  Eat.

Thirsty? Drink.

Hot? Swim.

Tired? Rest.

Bored? Read.

There is literally no need for a watch here.  Unless you have to catch the ferry to St. Vincent’s.

Last night I had a very restless and fitful sleep.  I knew the plan for today was a beach day, which means that there would be an increased risk of BUGS.  I was up with diarrhea several times in the night and again this morning.  I’ve been taking the custom tincture that Dr. Katrina has given me and it calms me for a while.  I am breathing.  I am tapping.  I am reading to distract myself.  I am talking nicely and gently to myself.

However, I have mentally applied and reapplied bug spray over and over in my mind.  I have mentally concocted which beach looks the “safest” from bugs.  Yesterday, on our drive, I was taking note of which beaches were raked, were free from scrub brush, which ones had people and which ones were desolate.  I noticed walkways and pathways to the beaches.  I hyper-analyzed the island all night long. I worried and stewed about hypothetical possibilities…things that aren’t even real.

I had sweaty palms, a racing heart, nervous energy, bouncing and jittery knees and looping thoughts as I rode in the back of our little Suzuki to Princess Margaret Beach. It is a beautiful beach, well kept, and we could drive right up close to the beach we would call home today.  The first few steps were tentative, but I just kept breathing and moving forward.  Alicia kept checking in on me to see how I was doing, I think she could sense my hesitation.  We dropped our chairs and coolers on the beach, but I wasn’t ready to just sit – I needed to walk…to feel the sand beneath my toes, to sense the calm and safety that I have always found on a beach.  My heart was longing to find familiarity here, wanting to laugh and play, yearning to be carefree and simply okay.

We all walked to the far end of the white sandy beach, along the waters edge- Tim held my hand the entire way.  I know that the bugs I am afraid of don’t like the water, so I consciously chose to walk in the water, hoping to desensitize myself this way.  The ocean is a perfect refreshing temperature and I have never, ever seen water this color before.  It is so vibrant and clear, a glowing turquoise that just draws me right in.  We found caves at the far end of this beach, and explored here a little before making our way back to our chairs.  Still, not ready to sit in the sand, I bobbed in the water, floating on the gentle waves, watching the boats in the bay move with the flow of the ocean.  So peaceful.  So beautiful.

Pinch me.

I can’t believe I am here.

I mean, I can, but it is all surreal.  A little dream-like.

I found myself sitting in my chair, looking out at this spectacular view, sipping rum punch (because that will also calm nerves), resting my feet in the sand. And I felt…calmness coming.  I let myself dig my feet into the sand, push the sand away and pull it back towards me.  I used my toes to dig a little hole.  I let myself enjoy the view and the company and I then I realized that I wasn’t watching my feet anymore.  Playing in the sand started to feel…normal?

Sitting there, thoughts of bugs came and went.  When they came, I went to the water, let the ocean cleanse the thoughts from my mind.  Re-set.  And then would find my way back to my chair and begin the whole process of settling in all over again.

And again.

And again.

I noticed that the anxiety was worse last night and this morning.  The thoughts about what I “might” experience, the fear of what “might” live on the beach was actually worse than being on the beach.  I am amazed at the power of my thoughts.  How just thinking about something can generate such a strong physical reaction.  That thoughts can generate physiological changes in my body.  While I sat, watching the world go by, I thought to myself, if worry and fearful thoughts can impact me so intensely, I wonder if positive reinforcement will do the same?

Can I afford the consequences of my thinking?

What if these powerful negative thoughts are blocking me from achieving my optimal health?

As I watched the catamarans and yachts bobbing in the sea, I had the sense of surrealness again.  And then, I understood.

Pinch me!

I am so blessed to be here.  What a beautiful patch of the planet to visit!  I love the salt in the air and the warmth of the sun kissing my skin.  I love the natural pedicure that the sand gifts me.  The view is incredible with the rough terrain meeting the sea and the rocky ledges giving way to the softness of the sandy beaches.  The wind on my face is delightful, cooling, refreshing and a natural bug deterrent.  How blessed am I?  How wonderful is it, that we can move from climate to climate, from country to country so easily?  What a gift it is to travel and experience new things, new cultures, new foods, new drinks, and new friendships.  This is such a gift.  And I am so full of gratitude, for this day, for this life and even for this experience of Leishmaniasis.

I survived the beach today.  I came through unscathed.  No bites.  And I am thankful for that too!

I am not so naive to think that I have just conquered this anxiety all together.  But I am confident that I have tools to help me get through it when it arises.  I know there will be other challenges to conquer, but tonight, I just feel proud of myself.  And I have a sense that I can get through anything else that life might throw at me.  I feel strong.  I feel capable.

I’ve got this.

Xo Juli

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