10 weeks ago today, I woke up in excruiating pain. I had to call Dennis home from work because I couldn’t walk, talk, think or cope with anything other than managing (or not managing) the pain. I was utterly terrified as I had never experienced anything like it.

The abbreviated story is that I was diagnosed with a rare case of shingles that had settled in my L5 nerve and travelled the entire length of my sciatic nerve to the very end of my big toe. I had several terrible adverse drug reacions, could not eat or sleep at all, and spent a lot time crying. It was the most trying thing I have even been through. Dennis and my boys were heroic in their efforts to keep the house clean, laundry going, meals eaten and the schedule pretty much normal while I was completely checked out.

Western medicine had very little to offer me. I turned to a dear friend who has vast herbal medicine knowledge and I began to feel genuine healing taking place from the moment she pointed in me in the right direction and lovingly prepared healing herbal remedies for me. I received a referral from another friend to a gentle and wise accupuncture and traditional chinese medicine practioner. After about 2 weeks, I could see very slow and incremental progess every day. I literally improved by tiny, baby steps at a time. I have had very few setbacks.

I am elated to being feeling better, but I am completely humbled. I feel quieter and more subdued than my normal self. I feel way more introspective. I have also developed a great deal of empathy. If you live with pain – I am sorry. If you’ve been through harrowing medical conditions – I am sorry. If you are challenged by something chronic and debilitating – I am sorry. If you manage symptoms and fatigue on a daily basis – I am truly sorry. I did not know what it was like. I don’t know that you can without having experienced it. Maybe you can. But I didn’t.

I guess, intellectually I knew a medical crisis can strike anyone, at any time, but having it happen has left me a little shell-shocked and off-kilter. I also got slapped in the face by what got me into the predicament in the first place. Stress and a compromised immune system are implicated in Shingles showing up in your life. That ugly package was plunked down in my lap and clearly stated, ‘What are you going to do about it?’

I am going to take it as a wake up call.

Although I am not entirely sure what all the pieces of the puzzle are, I know that I have been tiptoeing and side-stepping some issues in my diet, and my total lack of stress management tools. I have been making some small, slow and systematic changes over the last two years that have resulted in really positive results, but this is a clear signal to up the ante in the health and wellness game.

Do you remember my word? I promised myself to dig deep and shed some light on things in my life, my home, my finances and other areas. Not once did my health make the list of those things. Funny how that works.

Here I am. Squinting at the light pointing directly into my eyes.

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