Saturday, March 19, 2011
At 66, ever grateful to have a doctor and visits that are paid for by Medicare, I’ve had a medical mystery for six months that neither my lovely, also sixty-something family practice doctor, nor my dermatologist can label anything but eczema (which means itch!), nor make go a-way.
My skin itches. Sometimes tiny little red bites appear on my back where I can’t reach them, nor can my husband see them. At others, tiny patches resembling the blisters of poison oak appear: on my left foot, my right leg, my wrist, above my left elbow. Even my scalp itches some of the time. When I’m busy during the day I don’t notice, but night-time, bed-time, it’s worse.
I’ve done everything from folk remedies, to over the counter and prescription creams, soaked in baths of Epsom salts and colloidal oatmeal for close to six months to no avail. The symptoms get relieved temporarily, the rashes almost disappear, but I still see traces of them and feel them under my skin. Allergic reaction to medications you say? First we dropped the Chinese herbs. No difference. I’ve been on blood pressure medications for more than a year my doctor doesn’t want me to mess with.
Doctor’s aside, somehow, I have to search for the metaphor in this manifestation of mind/body symptoms.
Stress? Moi? Of course. Too much time on my hands, too little must-do-today-to-get-paid work for money? Hell of course. But I say it’s deeper than that. This bubbling under my skin that I feel, and can see in the mirror when I look close has got to be systemic. As in psychologically so.
“What am I just itching to get done?”
That’s an easy answer: not one, but three or four un-finished books in the bowels of this computer are just yearning to be shat out. Dozens of blogs written but still in my computer and not up on my website for others to see, because of some weird fear of exposure? That’s part of it.
“What is making my skin crawl?”
Another war in the Middle East? Earthquakes & Tsunami’s? Another million fore- closures this year? Budget cuts crippling education, health, and services for the poorwhile the rich get richer and control FOX media where the poor get their news? No wonder a “news fast,” i.e. refraining from reading, watching or listening to the news is one of Andrew Weil’s steps in 8 Weeks to Optimum Health.
Bigger yet is my lifelong dream of “my voice being heard and seen in palpable terms” before I die. Yet now that I’m so close, and finally have the skills and the time I’ve been making choices about how I’m using my time that are not helping.
Writing is a solitary journey. And the quiet of solitude is my final frontier. Stillness, sought after and run from, rarely occurs in my life. Sitting at my window seat the other day, I cried for the wonder in being right there, right then. The poignancy of that moment that prompted those tears was partly because it had been so long since I’d sat down and been right there.
Yesterday my friend Suviro, in response to my anxt, used an old Stephen Levine trick to get me to focus on what’s important. “If you have 12 hours to live Pat, how would you want to spend them?”
My answer came easily: “Being with those I love. Just being with them.”
The 9 page resume and the books or words I leave behind, didn’t matter one iota. Yet she has the financial luxury to do beautiful art projects that express her beauty and creativity … I do not, I reminded her.
“Don’t let an adding machine be your epitaph,” she told me. “Be grateful for what you Do have and breathe. Focus. Don’t run ahead. Breathe. Does this all have to be done today? No? Sit then. Go be still and see what happens!”
It was then remembered some other questions thought of by my (also paid for by Medicare) talk therapist:
“Might you be crawling out of your skin?”
“What are you looking to shed, leave behind?
Perhaps a new me is emerging from the shell of those fragmented but wonderful experiences I’ve created all my life and want to share with the world. That new me is not likely to look or sound too much different, but I sure hope that inner peace I seek will become more palpable, even to me.
“Peace Pat … Calm Abiding,” is what my NY Jewish Buddhist Therapist wished me.
If not now when, if not me who?