Perceptions In Life

As the days pass into this new year of 2012, I’ve been making all of my plans (especially the financial ones) to make the big jump across the pond.  In a weird synchronistic movement of the universe around me, Jaromir Jagr says he wants to re-sign in Philly for next season.  Ok…word probably got to him that it’s not this year the Flyers win the Cup, it’s next year.

A few hours later, I’m sitting in my doctor’s office in the worst pain I’ve ever had in my life only to hear my doctor tell me that she doesn’t advise leaving for Africa just yet.  At the least, a year.  She tells me this to drive the point across about my health.  The test results are really that bad. 

$320 of ‘uninsurable costs’ later, I realize that the pain meds don’t work.  The pain keeps getting worse.  I’m sitting in my bed at 4AM begging the cat to remove herself from my lap because I’m in so much pain, I can’t move. 

After twenty minutes, I finally make my way to the bathroom for any kind of medicine that will relieve the pain so I can go back to sleep.  I find some Tylenol Precise and rub that over the inflamed area and then try to sleep on the couch.  It relieves most of the pain for the next 45 minutes before the pain returns again.

This has been my week.  It all started with doing something so intuitively stupid that it’s accumulated in some of the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime. 

Since my surgery back in 2008, I’ve regarded raw onions as a ‘death wish.’  I don’t know why I ever thought that, because I had eaten raw onions before the surgery and was just fine.  But after the surgery, I took one look at raw onions on my salad and thought…I would have to be insane to even attempt to eat a raw onion.

Ends up my intuition wasn’t joking about that raw onion.  I thought, since it’s been 3 years since the surgery, maybe I’ll be okay.  WRONG.  The second it hit my stomach, my stomach started reeling in pain shooting through my body like an electrical storm.  By that evening, the pain had centered right behind my stomach and into the back, along the spine.  Which ironically, is the exact spot on the opposite side of my back from where I had three tumors removed in 2005. 

I’ve always talked about test results coming back in either the yellow or red categories in the past.  This incident sent it barreling straight into the red abyss. 

Lesson learned…really listen to your intuition.

Granted, the situation has probably been around for some time and was just sent over the edge with this incident.  I don’t know, but after each test they administered yesterday, I was reeling in even more pain than I was before. 

When the doctor looked at the results, she relayed onto me how dangerous the situation really was…thus, the reason why she has put a medical stopper on me heading to Africa permanently.  She’s thinking this will go another 12-18 months. 

While we sat there discussing the issues, she was getting more and more pissed at me because she didn’t think I was reacting like the ‘oh my god, this is horrible, my life is over…’ kind of stance.  Instead, I just sat there taking in the normal blah, blah, blahs I’ve been hearing for the past three years…the ‘it’s nothing new’ kind of news.  I started talking about what I was going to do next in my adventure.

Life is always divided by those who take the negative and embrace it.  There are others who just look at the positives in life and move forward.  If you focus too much on dying, you’ll miss out on living.

How we perceive this lifetime also determines how we’ll live.  Sure, I could sit there and start crying because I’m in the red zone again.  I’ve sat there and cried in an examination room before.  Or, I could just say…whatever…there’s nothing new about this…just give me my prescription and I’ll go.

Imagine my surprise that no pain medication worked.  You know what did work?  Tai chi and meditation.  It worked so quickly…I began to wonder if all of the issues plaguing my body are actually a result of environmental stressors? 

I imagined that pain in my body to be a ball of pain, and I pushed that negative energy out of my body and into the universe as love.  I did this same movement three to four times and then centered again.  I opened my eyes and realized that 75% of the pain was gone.  What was left were just a few aches that could be cured with a small dose of ibuprofen. 

And here I was looking at this expensive ass bottle of medicine seeing that it could really damage my stomach, but if it would stop the pain, I’d take it….only to find out that for FREE, I could have just done some basic meditative tai chi and released that horrific pain from my body.

I guess there is truth to the saying that the best things in life are for free, while everything else, you have to pay for.

Believe it or not, I look at all of this as a lesson.  Here’s why…

Last week, I saw a package come in for my neighbor.  I thought I would be nice and take it up to him and leave it at his door.  I didn’t tell him that I did it.  I was just doing it out of kindness since he’s come over before to fix a lot of things in my apartment.

Last night, I came home and found a large, heavy box in front of my door.  It was the supplies I ordered for the photos.  In my condition, there was no way I could have brought that package upstairs on my own.  One of my neighbors had repaid that same kindness that I had bestowed to one of my neighbors.  All I had to do was just push the box into my apartment.

The lesson learned is that when you do an act of kindness, wanting nothing in return, you’ll find that kindness is returned when you need it the most. 

It also shows that remembering to remain positive, even when the dire of situations is placed before you can determine how you are living.  You can either live for death or live to live.  That’s why I travel all of the time.  There’s a lot of things I want to see and do before this body craps out on me.  I actually don’t tell my doctors that I’m traveling, because they would forbid me from doing so.  This last big trip through Europe and Africa…I was actually ill through most of it.  The worst days were in Paris and Zug.  I wasn’t able to get out and explore the area like I wanted to.  I ended up sick in bed the day I was supposed to visit the Eiffel Tower and L’Arche de Triomphe.  I headed to Zug the next day and just crashed in bed at the hotel the second I got there and only got up to go to the arena.  I spent one afternoon looking around, but that just ended up making things worse, so I headed back and slept it off.

In Morocco…I was sick, but acting like I wasn’t. 

There are good days and bad days.  When it’s bad, it’s bad.  Good days are the days I can get out of bed.  This week though, I took one look in the mirror and saw the color had left my face.  I was waking up in the middle of the night, sweating…and it’s the middle of winter.  Pain isn’t supposed to be like this.

I live like I don’t have a tomorrow.  I’ve had this drilled into my head for the last 7 years, since I was first diagnosed with cancer.  Then I was reminded again 3 years ago when I was told it returned and in a bad way.  Then I was reminded yesterday…you have to do what you’ve set out to do. 

Remaining positive, meditation, more yoga…those are my current prescriptions.  Doing acts of kindness towards others…that is also my main focus.  My horoscopes keep saying that I need to learn to start relying on other people right now, because I can’t do everything on my own anymore.

I thought about that this morning when it took me 20 minutes to get out of bed.  I kept thinking that I really needed a nurse or someone there to stand in front of me, push the cat off of me, and help me stand up.  I’ve known that this day was approaching.  I was warned about it happening after I had the first surgery.  You’re always preparing for that day, but when that day finally arrives, you can’t help but think how unprepared you are. 

I’ll need someone around for those bad days.  I kept thinking this morning…what I wouldn’t give to be laying out in the sand dunes right now, letting the Sahara ease my pain.  Hell, what I wouldn’t give to push someone out of bed and tell him to help me.  Instead, I was left in tears this morning, trying to convince the cat that she needed to remove herself from my lap because I couldn’t do it myself, feeling the pain sharpen and twist up and down my body, and trying not to scream because it hurt so bad.  It’s kind of sad that one of the reasons for wanting to get married is for these moments when I need to rely on someone else to help me.

Learning how defenseless you can be, you leave your pride at the door.  For someone who is so independent and strong, this time around I can’t do this on my own.  It’s different.  And one thing I’m learning is to ask for help when I need it…to do acts of kindness when I don’t need help…and maybe the universe will answer my prayers knowing when I really need help so I don’t have to ask for it.

On the train, I’ve had to tell people not to touch me because it’s like I can feel the weight of their body on me…and it’s too much for me to bear anymore.  I think that’s my life in a nutshell. 

I’ve spent these past few days trying to practice going back into past lifetimes to understand why the doctors can’t accurately diagnose what’s wrong with my body.  The things my past has shown me are all points where I’ve taken on endeavours to help those who can’t help themselves.  I’ve shouldered their weight…stood up to the injustices to protect the weak…and carried the world upon my shoulders.  Each doorway showed that characteristic in me…which is exactly who I am today.  I think this lifetime is the accumulation of all of those burdens that belong to others.  It’s proving  that I can’t carry anymore of the weight.  There is a tipping point where I’m about to crumble beneath its weight. 

This lifetime was meant to release it all and let people fight their own injustices.  To teach others to stand up when someone is about to be treated wrongly.

Back a few years ago, I stood up to a man that was getting ready to hit an 80 year old woman in a grocery store.  I was with my cop boyfriend at the time, waiting to checkout.  This guy, in his 30s or 40s, decided to cut in front of the woman and acted like he had a right to do it when she protested.

He turned around and made like he was getting ready to punch her.  I got in front of her, pushed her behind me and told him that if he was going to hit someone, he was going to have to hit me.  He told me to get out of the way.  I answered, “NO!” 

At this point, the entire busy checkout area had gone silent.  Even the cashiers had stopped ringing up any items.  You could hear someone calling for security.  Another person was on their phone calling the police.

The man told me to get out of the way again.  His beef was with the old lady.  I told him he was going to have to go through me if he wanted to get to her.  By then, several others had pushed the little old lady towards the back of the store. 

He started to stare me down like if I didn’t get out of his way, he would kill me.  I looked back at him even more forcefully and I said, “NO!” again.  He would have to go through me.  That’s when someone came up behind me and said, “And me.”  Another person said, “Me too.”  10-15 more people joined in.  The guy looked around noticing that he was outnumbered.

I told him to take his things and check out.  Get the hell out of the store.  He tried to stare me down again before I gave him that one look that has been known to put the fear of God into anyone’s heart.  He backed off immediately and started to quickly have the lady ring his items up.

He spent the next five minutes trying to plead his case to me like he was the victim here, not the little old lady.  I stood next to him and put the old lady’s stuff on the conveyor belt and told him to shut up. 

People kept looking at the two of us like, she is going to kill him if he doesn’t back off.  He kept whimpering like he was the victim there…not the bully anymore.

He finally walked out of the store, but I knew he’d be waiting for the little old lady, so we helped her get her things together, packed up her groceries, put it back in her cart for her, and then walked out with her. 

Like I knew he would…he was sitting there waiting for her.  By then, the guy noticed that my boyfriend was an off-duty cop (he had his jacket on over his uniform).  He went up to him and tried to plead his case that he was the innocent one, not the old lady.  I took one look at the guy like I was about to set him on fire with one look, and he exclaimed, “You’re crazy!”  He jumped on his bike and pedaled out of the lot like a bat out of hell. 

Two patrolmen pulled up a minute later, while we were trying to hail a cab for the old lady.  They saw my boyfriend and asked what had happened.  He relayed the story onto them, looked at me and then laughed.  He said, “One thing’s for sure, never piss this lady off.  She’ll put the fear of God into you.” 

The cops went in to do their routine investigation of the matter.  In the meantime, we had loaded the groceries into a cab for the lady, I even paid for her cab ride home.  We put her in the car and then headed to our car. 

As we were pulling out, one of the cops waved us down.  He came over to my window and said, “I have to shake your hand.  What you did in there…I wish there were more people like you out there.”  He told us that everyone that saw what happened told them that girl stood up to that guy and scared the hell out of him. 

Apparently, that’s just my character.  It’s what I do.  My boyfriend laughed as we drove off.  He said, “I am never going to piss you off again.  Whoo wee…did you scare the hell out of that guy!”‘

He then said he now understood what my brother was talking about…never piss his sister off because by some act of God, you or someone you know that is close to you will die.  That is…depending on the degree of how mad I am.  He said he thought my brother was joking about the ‘act of God.’  But until he saw the ‘putting the fear of God’ into another man just by looking at him…he said, he would never piss me off again.

In each lifetime, I have been this kind of person…always protecting the weak…shouldering the responsibility.  I think in this lifetime, the body has had enough.  So from here on out, I think it’s time I let the weight of the world fall off of me.  I think that’s why I want to sit in the Sahara so much right now…so I can just be free of the weight of the world I’ve been carrying.  I just want to be free and stand on my own again.  The only way I can do that is to stop shouldering all of the work on my own.  I need to finally learn to enlist help from here on out in all walks of life.  My body can’t take on anymore. 

That’s what the universe has been telling me…that it’s okay to take help from others, especially when you don’t ask for it. 

“Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love.”
Wally Lamb, She’s Come Undone



About Michelle Kenneth

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