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Day 194 “Buddha Nature”

The bus I am riding on is actually a small house. The bus driver sits at the front door and collects fares. The front door opens into a dining room, where riders are playing cards. I move back further, into the adjacent sitting area. My friend Sandy is here and she has a young child; a girl. The girl remembers me although I am sure I have not seen her in ages. The bus stops, and panicked I rush to get off, only to discover this is not my stop, so I rush back on the bus. I feel frazzled, but laugh at my error and return to my seat trying to relax. Then I realize I am missing my purse. Thinking I’d left it at the last stop, I holler to the driver to go back, but then see that I’d left it on a table in the front hall. I pick it up and notice that it is lighter than it was. In fact, it is the purse, emptied of its contents. I am outraged, and accuse all the occupants of the bus. As it turns out, I know many of them, and I rifle through their belongings looking to recover mine. Worst of all, my passport was in the purse and losing that is a nightmare. I know the culprit is on board.

Coming to terms with the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is difficult, not unlike being robbed of one’s identification. In the dream, it is my passport I am worried about. My passport, in particular, is the only document that bears my full legal name. More importantly, it allows me to travel.

Replacing a passport is possible, but difficult. Metaphorically, I have lost my passport to come and go freely. Life now needs to be measured or paced, and I do not have credit to draw on. My purse has been emptied.

The bus that I travel on is me: the driver, the same robotic ego that takes me mindlessly through my daily route. The passengers are me also. Sandy is my over-analytical, uptight self, which is balanced by- or, perhaps (if I am more honest) protective of- my little girl innocence. The card players, and readers on board are me too. So is the thief.

Why is my bus a small house? My husband and I bought a small house over a year ago to retire in. We haven’t moved in yet, but it continues to be our promise for the future. Is this a premonition dream then? That the greatest struggle, or lost, will come when we move to our little house? Time alone will tell.

Derek Lin says that we each have a Buddha Self – an enlightened, loving self that lies at our inner core. As in the dream, I am struggling to find my bearings, conscious of the need to register my progress, and be on alert. I have long since moved away from a time when I trusted the process, and I am feeling disconnected from my Buddha Nature.

I can only hope that those who surround me don’t lose sight of it also. Reconnection will be my saving grace.

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Day 193 “Character Counts”

I knew something was wrong the week before my granddaughter’s first birthday.  Despite the increase in asthma medication, I was not able to get my breathing under control.  On the day of her celebration, I was in Emergency, then back home with Prednisone: the wonder drug.

This summer was more active thanks to a new home with a pool and within walking distance of a park.  Our new lifestyle felt promising, especially the fact that we were entertaining more, and enjoying the great outdoors.  Thor was still recovering from a spring full of surgeries, so his movement was limited, but he too felt more positive.

By July, the pain in my body had increased, but I told myself:  No pain, no gain, and pushed harder.  Isn’t that how the body works?  When record high temperatures hit mid July, I decided that was to blame for my troubled breathing.

The Prednisone didn’t work, so I continued to up my meds and rationalized that once the frost came, everything would be better.

Soon school was back in and with it the onslaught of germs.  I constantly felt like I was fighting something, and then one day, standing talking to a peer, I felt faint, unable to breath, and was sweating profusely.  I called the doctor.  An xray showed pneumonia.  A bout of antibiotics and I would be good as new.

Except, I wasn’t, and my breathing became more and more laboured and the dizzy spells continued, and the sweats, and I found myself back in Emergency and on the wonder drug again.  Twice, with no effect.

By December, the doctor decided that maybe this wasn’t asthma, and began to treat me for COPD, and arranged lung tests.  Nothing.  So, I went for heart tests.  Nothing still.

No, it’s asthma!  declared the lung specialist and he upped my medication, stating he would see me in two weeks.

In the meantime, I felt more and more like I was swimming against the tide, through thick, debilitating muddy waters.

I just want to be able to breath again!  I told him on my next visit.  To be honest, none of these meds are making any difference, and I am fed up!

Now I like this doctor just fine, but he has a undeniable sense of self-importance and on any given occasion is prone to answer his own questions before hearing my response, but this day he stopped and looked at my file.  Really looked at my file.  He went on-line and looked back over all the tests, and former tests and diagnosis, and sat back and looked at me with renewed interest.

You have Fibromyalgia, he said, as if realizing it for the first time.  This is not asthma.  This is Chronic Fatigue. 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  My family doctor had mumbled it questioningly months before, then dismissed it in favour of further testing.  I can treat your lungs, he said, but it’s back to your family doctor for the rest.  

So, there it is.  A diagnosis.  Eight months of struggle, exhaustion, self-doubt, and frustration, and here is where I land.

There is relief in knowing what I am up against, but there is also an enormous sense of disappointment and a bracing myself for what is to come next.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, like Fibromyalgia, is an unknown that draws at best blank stares, but mostly, misinformed advice.  I brace myself for what lies ahead.

As the criticism, and ‘you shoulds’ rolls in, I realize that I will need clear boundaries, and the ability to deflect the controversy.  Now more than ever, I will need to walk with my head held high, choosing the path that supports me best.

Now is the time that character counts.