“Reaction: a boat which is going against the current, but which does not prevent the river from flowing on.” — Victor Hugo
My entire life, I’ve always been that person who says to the doctor, “I’m not allergic to anything.”
I’ve also been that person who reads the potential side effects of a medicine and declares “not going to happen to me.”
Well, lo and behold, this week I got an adverse allergic reaction to something that was supposed to help me, and it landed me in bed for two days. Of course, it also got me thinking…
Initially, I was mad at my doctor. I have a pattern of doing this, and I know I’m not the only one. We look for someone to blame or get mad at when something doesn’t go our way.
On the first day, the doctor was calm and said, “Maria, I mentioned this had side effects. Perhaps you didn’t listen.”
I replied, “Um, no you didn’t mention this kind of side effect because if you had, I would have listened.”
By the second day, my condition had worsened and my doctor said, “Well, there are always some people who have adverse allergic reactions, but we don’t know about them until they happen. So now we can tell others about yours and that will help them.”
“Um, great.” I thought. “Glad I could help.”
As I sat holed up in my room looking like something I can’t even describe, I started looking for the lessons in this experience. (Yup, I’m always trying to find lessons.)
For one, all this is yet another reminder that there is a severe lack of knowledge about women’s health in America. We’re in the midst of a massive gender research gap in medicine and science, which in turn leads to a massive gender gap in knowledge. Meanwhile, the women on the ground are the ones dealing with the ramifications.
Yesterday, I returned home from a seven-day trip to Ireland. It was an absolutely wonderful get-away to a mystically beautiful country with some of the warmest and friendliest people I've met. The ancient land whispers to you and I’m honored to have been embraced by her beauty. I had the time of my life, but I am so very glad to be back home in my own house, surrounded by my children and the peace of a loving home. After a week of me time I’m filled with gratitude and ready to resume my own daily rhythms once again.
Travel always takes its toll. That's why travel and travail share the same root word! For me, the differences in time zones always disrupts my already fragile sleep patterns. The first few days into any overseas trip are rough. Then, just when I start to get some balance back, it's time to head home and repeat the process all over again. It always reminds me of how important sleep is to our overall physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Do you remember what it was like to be able to eat anything you wanted to? Maybe, if you’re very, very lucky, you still can! But if you’re like most of the 40+ year old crowd I know, myself included, your metabolism has changed substantially.
I remember waking up and eating a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast without a second thought. In between meals, if I felt like it, I might grab a handful of M&Ms or some potato chips. Pizza for dinner with the children was not an uncommon occurrence. When it came to food, I was bulletproof. I was living the nutritional equivalent of a life without consequences. Then, sometime after I turned 50 the bottom, or my bottom to be more precise, quite literally fell out.
I woke up one morning and found my breasts on my chest and my butt on my thighs. Equally frustrating, my clothes weren’t fitting me like they used to. Things that I used to wear with no problem were now tighter around my derriere and thighs. The sleeves were pulling around my upper arms. UUGH! Time was marching on. I was getting older and gaining weight. It was as though my formerly compliant body had developed a mind of its own.
My activity level was the same. My diet, including those bagels, pizza, and chocolate, remained consistent. I had learned how to manage healthy eating with splurge days. But something else was definitely going on.
Water is magical. It sustains life. It exists simultaneously in three seperate states. It has been a part of human ritual and religion since the dawn of time. It covers the majority of the world and it comprises the majority of each of us. In a very real sense, water is where the physical and the spiritual meet. It is indeed aqua vitae - the water of life.
At this point in my life (especially now that I’m post-AARP) I have a profound appreciation for my good health. I call it feeling “star spangled”! You know what I’m talking about: energy is flowing, eyes sparkle, thinking is crystal clear, digestion is running smoothly, free from illness, and joints are pain-free as though they’ve just been WD-40’d.
When I’m in this state, I look and feel at least 25 years younger. I feel as though I’m glowing from the inside out. I can easily connect to my inner guidance, my compassion is endless, my energy is boundless, and my joy and positive attitude are infectious. It’s a fantastic feeling. It’s the way we’re supposed to feel.
"People are not born once and for all on the day their mother puts them on to the Earth, but...time and again, life forces them to enter a new world on their own." Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Lying in a hospital bed on the maternity floor in North Central Bronx Hospital, I received a text from a new mom friend I recently met. She wanted to know if "my baby girl was born yet." I replied she "arrived three days prior and, with uncontrolled tears, I texted that I had a c-section." She replied, "Congratulations! Welcome to the C-club." My kneejerk reaction was that this was not a club I wanted to join. I was not supposed to be the 1 in 4 women who have c-sections every year.
"I was not supposed to be the 1 in 4."
When I became pregnant back in January, my plan was to have a homebirth. I was a homebirth. When I was growing up, my mother shared wonderful stories about my birth. You could say home-birthing was in my cellular memory. It was who I was, and aligned with how I tried to live my life: naturally. I envisioned bringing our baby into the world in the comfort of our new home, with little to no medical intervention.