He called me at the bus stop. Half an hour later would have been too late because I would have been without my phone meditating on my breathing and going through ten days of silence.
I knew it was him. He is the only one to call from a private number.
“I got the results back from the lab.” He said. He sounded in a hurry. “Your blood count has fallen really quickly. It’s ten points down in a week. I want you to go to hospital.”
My doctor is young, cool and bald. He and I have become mates over all my most intimate tests during the last two weeks. You can’t confide to a complete stranger that you have recurring bouts of thrush and not become close. I’m also getting pally with the blood test lady. She likes my raincoat.
“Okay”. I said. “Well I’m about to go into the meditation camp now. So I will go when I get back?”
“No.” he said. “You have to go now. I think you may have internal bleeding. You might need a blood transfusion and I think they’ll admit you. I just don’t think it’s wise to go away for 10 days. Sorry. I know this meant a lot to you.”
I still wonder whether he thinks swollen thyroid, throat infection, anaemia and hyperglycaemia are totally unrelated. Because as time goes by and more symptoms crop up I feel it’s part of a larger whole. Everything’s connected right?
I feel fraudulent. And foolish. You tell people you are doing this massive challenge of Vipassana meditation and then you skip out of it at the last minute. Or at least during the last 30 minutes.
Sometimes I cannot win. I judge myself for being weak and spineless. If I were a stronger woman I would not be ill. But I also judge myself for being an utter idiot. Because I know that the first judgement of myself is harsh and unfair. Nevertheless, the fact is I haven’t listened to my body. I haven’t been to the doctor for check ups even though I was exhausted, anxious and putting on abdominal weight… because blood tests confirm I can now add diabetes to the anaemia and unexplained lump.
I also judge myself for not loving myself enough. Which is not really how loving yourself works.
I don’t have to tell everyone yet, but I will hide from Facebook for awhile. Until the fear passes? Because more than admitting that I am not where I said I would be, is the fact I will have to tell everyone why. And they will look at me with uncertainty, looking for some reassurance in my eyes that I’m alright. That I’m not scared. But right now, I can’t give them that reassurance.
“Don’t be scared until we know what it is.” Said my doctor.
Here’s the thing doc. An emergency blood transfusion and internal bleeding sounds pretty fucking scary to me. But I can sit here with tears running down my face, observe my breath and watch as the fear comes and goes.
Vipassana eat your heart out.
How to deal with Crisis
1. Let yourself feel.
I let myself feel fear. Because it was quite useless to fight it. All those stress hormones pouring their way down my face. It upset the taxi driver who was in no way able to fix the problem. Once upon a time, I would have been more socially decorous. I would not have cried in public and made someone else feel uncomfortable. But controlling emotions makes them explosive and creates a great deal of unavoidable strain.
2. Let go of expectations.
I had expected to be absent for 10 days. The fact I could not caused me stress because I didn’t measure up to my own expectations. I obssessed about social fallout… until after my tears, I decided that I should really only be concerned with getting myself to the hospital. It seemed like the most important thing.
3. Make teeny plans on the fly
Plans are not expectations. Plans are what lets you get through the crisis. I called the bus company. But I was in the middle of nowhere with no bus for another 6 hours. I called a taxi to get me to another stop where there was a bus in 1 hour. Then I found an socket for my iPad which allowed me to watch Michael McIntyre all the way to the hospital. Then after sticking me with god knows how many needles, the ER doctors said – ‘Well actually you can go. We’ll run more tests next week.’
I let myself feel bloody annoyed. I dismissed the expectation of being admitted to hospital. And I caught the next ferry home.
And so by the end of the day I was home again having been on a huge journey.
It just wasn’t the one I expected to go on.