December 3, 2019

Zest Quest

Journal Entry #67

I was offered an all-expenses paid trip to Italy with my husband for a work venture he is embarking upon.  Because, I hadn’t yet received travel clearance, nor have I been feeling well enough to embark upon a 9 day trip of this magnitude, I declined. I mean, who can go to Italy and NOT drink their wine???  I settled to live vicariously through Tim.

Man, did it sting to say “no.”

Saying “no” to opportunities like this go against the grain for me.

At my last visit to UHN, the very week of Tim’s departure to Italy, the doctor cleared me for travel, encouraging me to continue with a counsellor to work through the anxiety associated with travel.  She also reminded me to visit a travel clinic before traveling anywhere else in the world.

In my world, where Leishmania has changed everything, these types of decisions are very difficult.  If I were healthy and feeling even closer to 100%, I would have jumped at this opportunity.  In the reality of where I am, operating at about 80% these days, the answer is an obvious “no”.   As much as I want to jump on these opportunities, my body and health are a priority that I am not in a position to comprimise.  I am sure it is difficult for others to understand.  I mean, I look healthy, am easing back to work, and by all accounts appear to be doing really well.

Don’t get me wrong, I am well, overall.

What people can’t see, is the drain of energy it takes to complete simple tasks.  The fatigue that pressures a cease to whatever it is that I am doing.  The pain that makes me feel like I am 90 years old. The racing heart when anxiety strikes. The unpredictable “plumbing” issues.  The brain-fog.  Thank goodness for Dr. Katrina who keeps inching me forward with her remedies and IV bags.

The fall would normally be the time of year that we would be tossing around ideas of a winter vacation.  Although the conversation has come up in our family, and amongst our friends, I have a real resistance to travel.  There are all kinds of unsettled fears that arise when I think of it.  When I go online to look at different travel options, all I see are bugs, and I can’t help but wonder what kinds of bugs live there?

In the past, I would look at a place, or think of a place, warm and tropical, and could imagine myself sitting on the beach, enjoying a cold beverage, reading a book, soaking up the sun and the warm, salty air.  Now, my skin crawls, I strategize between layering bug spray and sunscreen in my mind before I would even be comfortable to go to the beach.

So, yes.  I have been cleared for travel, but my mind and my body are not ready yet.  I am working hard at the mental and emotional pieces to recovery from Leishmaniasis.  I know that these fears are NOT rational.  I know that the likelihood of contracting this again is virtually zero.  I trust the immune therapy that I am doing, and I know that my body is stronger than the bugs now.  I am seeing, first hand, that fear and anxiety can make no rational sense.  I am leaning into tapping, meditation, journaling and breathing to help off-set those times when it creeps in.

It is really important to me, to carry on with life like we once did with an air of freedom.  I don’t want to make decisions in life from a place of fear, and more importantly, I do NOT want to be setting that example for my children.  Not only is it important for me to move through this, to learn and employ coping mechanisms for myself, but also to live what I teach, and be an example for the kids.  It is important for them to see that even when life hands us terrible, unpredictable, and scary stuff that we get to choose how we are going to handle it, we get to rise to mind over matter, we get to persevere and fight, we get to lean into family, friends and our village when the going gets tough.

This journey though Leishmaniasis has been loaded with lessons, not just for myself, but also for my family.  As I work through healing all the things we cannot see, this remains true.  I must continue to have my health a priority, I must continue to make choices that are not based upon fear, I must keep pushing forward, even on days like today, when all I want to do is pull the covers back up over my head.

There was a time when I just said “yes!” to life, when I felt like I lived fully and with abandonment.  You know what I mean?  To just throw caution to the wind and engage in life, seizing every opportunity that came my way.  My dad used to say that we don’t get to take stuff with us when we leave this earth, but we do get to take our memories.

I felt that.

It is important to me to find this element of zest again.  I want to have endless experiences to make those memories to take with me when I go and more importantly because those memories will be all that I leave behind.

I am on a zest quest.

And it is on the horizon, I can feel it.

Xo Juli

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