April 26, 2006
Fortunately, I have up to this point been very healthy and as far as I know, I remain that way. However, I passed through a bout of the stomach flu. As I write these words, I am still quite weak and woozy, but definitely coming out the other end. It was not life threatening of course, but what it was, was a definite reminder of how the fortunes of our lives can change in an instant.
Yesterday, I was my usual hale and hearty self and then, whammo, I feel like a bunch of bad guys are running around in my stomach with knives, slicing and dicing as they please, making no mind to my pitiful entreaties that they stop. What to do? Well I did what all of you do in such situations, I endured, buoyed by the understanding in this instance that the pain and distress was by the nature of the affliction relatively short and without serious impact. Indeed, the loss of appetite was great to help knock off a few pounds that I had been dancing around losing because I was spoiled by feeling good.
Still however short and non-lethal such illnesses are, they tend to get your attention. Why? Because the feelings, though brief and intense, are reminders of possible longer and less forgiving physical problems to come. You live in a sort of nether world, drifting in and out of awareness, and sleep fitfully as best you can. Often you have phantasmagoric-like dream sequences that are not in the mold of your normal dream life. Everything around you changes: you have heightened sensibility to sound, to touch, often in a negative way. Your body ends up aching and it seems impossible to find a comfortable position to be in. Further, there is the loss of clarity of mind and a deep physical malaise that comes over you so that you feel weak, too weak to move the pillows or get out of bed.
And all this comes about practically instantaneously, though of course you can feel something creeping up on you many times. But then it bursts through the comfortable shell of your everyday functioning, knocking you off your feet, forcing you to put just about everything aside and be only taken up with the symptoms and discomforts that it produces. What is the purpose of describing this fairly common phenomenon, something I'll bet the majority of you have experienced over the last couple of years at least once?
The purpose is to remind us of the preciousness and fragility of a thing called feeling good! We take it for granted, we push our personal agendas forward on the backs of our bodies and minds, many times without any sense of how this wonderful thing called health can disappear in a flash and thrust us into another world where the rules of the game are Spartan and much more unforgiving. Take some time to sit with yourself today, this instant, and praise and feel gratitude to your body for its health, for being the unsung beast of burden that has carried you this far. Through all its sensory potentials, you can grasp the beauty of the sunset, the lusciousness of a ripe grape, the touch of those you love. That's what I'm about to do when my appetite returns. Good health to you all, and let me know what you think.
Frank Mosca Ph.D. is a marital counselor and life coach with offices in Hampton Bays and Garden City. His views can be seen at frankmosca.com.