Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Back from My Travels

It is autumn and I am home, back from travels to points West, where I went for rest, for retreat and renewal, for connecting with friends, for adventure, and especially for time in nature.

For many months, when I was healing from spinal collapse and a flare-up of multiple myeloma in my body, friends would mention the places they were going, and I would be very excited for them and then I would get starry-eyed. At the time, I knew I couldn't travel -- I couldn't sleep in a regular bed, I needed to rest my back by sitting in a reclining lift chair every other hour, and I could barely walk. One year ago now, I was able to travel by car for only about 1 hour. And I did. We drove to see the autumn leaves, and visited quaint towns nearby us in New England. And if I pushed myself to do more than I was used to, it would take at least 2-3 days of complete rest to recover my previous level of energy.

So I have learned a new meaning of patience, and I was already a patient person. I have had to live patience in order to heal -- since healing bones is normally slow, and with multiple myeloma it is even slower. In the past I would be patient, and then eventually get to the limit of my patience. But with slow healing, there is no limit to how patient one needs to be. The patience needs to be there, and keep coming, and coming, and coming. Healing from spinal collapse (with 15 fractured vertebrae and a height loss of 3") is probably the most challenging thing I have ever faced in my life. It has required extensive patience, deep acceptance of what is, willingness to do what needs to be done, and more courage than I knew I had.

And all along, I never doubted that I would one day again be able to travel. And now that I can travel -- that is, I can sleep in a regular bed, I can walk more easily, at least in the early part of the day, and I can sit relatively comfortably on an airplane for 2 hours (which is more than some people can say!) -- I find that it still takes a great deal of strength of back to travel. In the afternoon, when my back is tired, I can pull a rolling suitcase but I don't have the strength to lift one.

So I still have much healing to undergo before my body can do what I could do 2 years ago with ease, and before I become a world traveler again. How long it will take I have no idea, but that's OK, because I'm patient!!

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