I have an unreasonable concept of my own "strength." Competence, capability and general good health, coupled with a can-do just about anything attitude has gotten me through a lot of sticky situations, troubles, traumas, etc. For all the times I think my eyes and senses are wide open, aware of what is around me, I am frequently out of tune with what is happening inside. Sure, I spend a lot of time ruminating, turning thoughts, ideas, sensory impressions over and over in my mind. But when it comes to what is happening inside my body, I tune it out. When I start to feel a little slow, fatiqued, maybe even (gasp) a little bit ill, I deny it. I zap myself with vitamins, teas, homepathics and plow through each day, telling myself I am not sick. Oh no, there is no time for such weakness. I don't get sick.
The effort this denial takes makes me snappish. With apologies to those in close proximity, I put so much energy into pretending to feel normal that I have no time for questions. The longer I ignore the signs, the louder they get, hammering on the Denial Door. Open up and take care of yourself! Obstinate, I drink a glass of vitamin C. Cough, cough. No, no, I feel FINE. Just a little tired….
After a week of feeling fatigued and coughing in a very annoying manner, I finally went to the doctor. I would not necessarily have done this on my own; it took a doctor, a nurse, a social worker and a Rabbi to convince me, and a chaplain who took me by the arm to walk me into the employee clinic! Go, they all said – GO, NOW.
With thanks to my colleagues, I lay my denial gently on the ground. I don't have a minor summer cold; I have pneumonia. Take the week off, everyone says. Denial lifts its head in concern, but I have to admit, the best thing to do is nothing at all except rest, take meds, rest some more.
Unless that River in Eqypt sends a rescue boat, this just might be a message I can't ignore.