I’m having a hard time tonight dealing with my obsessive thoughts about illness. My daughter and I are coming off a nasty cold bug that once again left me without a voice — but thankfully, not for as long of a time as the last go-around.
However, flu is peaking in my area. This particular flu seems to cause stomach upset in addition to the usual suspects — high fever, sore throat, body aches, cough. And, as my daughter pointed out in a discussion earlier today, stomach upset is the bane of my existence.
As freaky as it is to write those words, they are, sadly, true. I don’t like this aspect of my personality. Yet there it is, quivering. My counselor would tell me that these thoughts are not actually me. I know that they are not, yet here they come, shooting arrows in my soul, leaving holes upon holes in my self confidence and sense of worth.
I’ve felt “off” all week in my stomach, anyway, probably due to this lingering cold. Yet for some reason the combination of “off” and the news of yet another flu victim in my circle of friends has left me nearly paralyzed. I posted on Facebook that I was thinking of becoming a hermit for the next month or so. Those who don’t know me really well don’t realize how much I would like that tongue-in-cheek status update to be an actual reality.
I want to stay home, tucked away from the see-saw weather. I want to be agoraphobic — in truth, there’s probably a little of that underneath my desire to be a hermit. Yet the part of my brain that is not paralyzed realizes that I can never be a hermit. I have duties that keep me busy outside of the house on a regular basis, and I have a husband who has to go into work every day and then brings home whatever germs hitch a ride. So I reluctantly leave the threshold of my safe harbor, all the while my internal sensors are screaming “Red Alert!” all the time.
I sit here typing instead of cooking dinner because the newest enemy is food. If I don’t eat or have contact with food, then I can’t get sick, right? Wrong. Actually hunger will eventually make me feel sick, so I will force myself to eat a little, and then I’ll feel “off” some more (if the past few days are any indication), and then the cycle will continue. The worse I feel, the less I eat. The less I eat, the worse I feel.
My daughter jokingly told me that if the Star Trek character Seven of Nine was a mom, she would be like me. There is a grain of truth in my daughter’s insight! Seven of Nine is a woman who had been captured as a child by a race of cyborgs who turned all their captives into “drones” that have no individuality but share their thoughts and intelligence. Seven of Nine is later rescued by the crew of the Starship Voyager where her cyborg materials are removed so she can once again be human.
Aside from her obsession with efficiency, how am I like Seven of Nine? Rather than eat, she instead requests “nutritional supplements.” If there was a way to hook me up to a tube that wouldn’t hurt or bother me and completely bypass my stomach and taste buds for automatic absorption, I think I’d be ecstatic. (Although I hope I won’t have to eat my words one day!)
All these musings and obsessive thoughts are totally out of line with my faith in Jesus. I realize that following Him means following him anywhere — even in the midst of an emergency plague situation, if necessary. If he was here in the body, right now, I’d have no trouble following him because I’d have his healing power with me. There are those who say that his healing power is still with me through the power of the Holy Spirit — even He said that his disciples would accomplish greater things than He did by asking for them in His name. And though I believe that, there is a level in my brain that hasn’t yet grasped it fully.
Maybe it’s my struggle with fibromyalgia that makes me wary. Truly, I spend half my time trying to ignore my pain away and the other half hiding it because I am ashamed of it. I’m ashamed to be this person who freaks out at the mere thought of illness. I’m ashamed to be this person plagued with a weird disease no one really understands and that some still say is all in my head. To them I say, Yes, it is in my head because my spinal cord connects to my head! MRI studies have shown that people who have fibromyalgia experience major brain “light-up” when pressure is applied to the pressure points. It’s as if sensory input — i.e., pain, could be controlled like the volume on a radio, the volume on my input is turned all the way up. That’s why the feel of the brush of my makeup brush against my cheekbones causes a painful sensation. Of course I know the brush isn’t hurting me…but my nerves are telling my brain otherwise.
All that pain is wearying.
Yet there must be a reason in the madness. God is Sovereign. He created me and knows why I experience such anxiety and pain. One day He will restore me to perfect health, of that I am certain. This life of mine on earth is temporary.
To that I say: thank goodness. One day I WILL be healed and will no longer be ashamed.