My Letter to God 2
I’m recovering from a brain injury. But there’s more to me than that.
I spent almost the entire summer holidays in bed. I’m not a student and no longer have school breaks. My mum, a school principal, goes back to work next week, which is how I know.
Today, my veggie patch, house and car are covered in layers of red dust. A dust storm has blown in from the drought-stricken west. After a short reprieve from the catastrophic fires, they flare again, encouraged by the windy 40 C (104 F) day. The air is a combination of dust and ash. It is choking. My labrador Delilah and I shelter inside.
Just two days ago, Sydney and our capital city, Canberra had hail storms with winds that picked up gum trees and threw them onto roads and rooftops. My old VW is decorated with a smattering of apricot-sized dimples. This weather, like a seesaw, confuses me. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this manic weather. Either for my illness.
Two months ago, I bravely ventured to the local swimming pool. I swam a few tentative laps with a kick-board. After nearly two years on land, my dried up, crusty scales rejoiced, seeping in their natural environment. The feeling was indescribable. Surrendering to the weightlessness, the water gave me a big hug. I was home.
Not long after, I got a pair of ear infections which took away this new-found sweetness. Along with them came with other symptoms, like gatecrashers at a under-age party; chronic pain, headaches, vertigo, tinnitus, memory loss and confusion. The infection developed quickly, exacerbated by summer humidity and wearing ear plugs constantly to help me cope with extreme noise sensitivity. Cornered by the illness, I was run ashore. I’d taken one step forward, twenty steps back.
I spent Christmas Eve in the local medical centre. I stayed in bed the entire next day, immobilized by vertigo. I lacked the energy to open my Christmas presents. Instead, I counted the hours until the next round of pain medication. I ate Christmas lunch lying down. I couldn’t get my head off the pillow. I hardly left the house except for medical appointments. In the end, I consulted four doctors. Still, like the fires, the infection raged on.
In the sixth week, I sought another opinion, a fifth doctor. He confirmed what I suspected all along. This is not a standard swimmers ear. For someone with a brain injury, this was a colossal event which set off a systemic inflammatory reaction. My inner ears, damaged by brain inflammation, are more susceptible to infection. Like the Australian weather, my body swings to extremes.
I resisted this post. Every time I sat down to write, I’d find an excuse not to; clean the stovetop, make a pot of tea, pat the dog. I wrote another piece that surprisingly came out really well. Procrastination at its finest. When a story wrestles with me, like this one, I know I’m feeling something raw and real. The recounting of it requires a heart-felt honesty.
I am weary. I am sick of doctors’ waiting room and chronic pain. I am tired of extreme weather conditions, the dust storms, fires and hail. I grieve for our native animals, lives and homes lost. There is a heaviness this summer, these circumstances weigh on me.
I find it hard to know what to do during these trying times. There isn’t much I can do, except endure it. As I bide my time, I find my notebook and pen a letter to God. Then I wait for a reply.
My Letter to God
I don’t know why you would do this to me. What did I ever do to deserve this? It has been two years of injury and illness.
It has been a complete devastation of my life. I don’t recognise who I am in the mirror anymore.
I’m sad all the time because I’ve lost the ability to participate in the things I love to do.
My sick body and brain are my prison and I cannot see a way out. I live in endless days of pain, confusion and fatigue.
I want to know there is an end to all this. The thought of living this way for the rest of my life petrifies me.
Why would you make me suffer this way?
Everyday like this I see my life slipping by going, going like grains of sand until nothing is left.
Some days I don’t know if the pain is worse in my brain or my broken heart.
Please show me the way forward so I might find some peace.
I’m doing my best to heal you. Can’t you see me all around?
I’m in your family and friends who help you each day.
I’m in the doctors who go the extra mile to write that letter and ring outside of hours with a treatment idea.
I’m in your loyal Labrador Delilah who I send to wait by your bedside while you rest.
I’m in the kindness of strangers on the internet who cheer you on and encourage you to keep moving forward.
I’m in the morning sun and the birds that greet you when you wake.
I’m in the life-giving food you eat and the veggies that grow in your garden.
I’m in the very air you breath even when you sob and gasp for breath.
I’m in your tears. The tears you need to cry to let your heart feel the essence of life that is love.
The tears you cry are important. They show me you care. You care about your life so much it’s breaking your heart.
If you weren’t crying at this stage I’d be worried.
But I’m not.
Your tears show me you still want to get well.
I know by looking inside of you, the passion and love for life is still there.
I see the way you fight for the right treatment.
I see the way you fight for rehab.
I see the way you fight to be heard every single day.
I see the way you get up, put on a brave face for another day.
Every day is another step forward on your recovery path.
And you will never, never give up.
How do I know this?
You see, dear Sarah, as I said before: I’m everywhere and all around you.
I am also within you. I am the voice inside you that won’t back down.
I’m the one fighting for you every day to get your life back.
You are not alone.
Because I am here
And I’m in you.
This is the second letter to God. My first letter can be read here. I wrote it in the first year of my recovery. I was emerging from the fog of amnesia to find my world completely altered. I often revisit these two posts when I need comfort. I hope it helps someone else on their journey, as it does me.
The kettle has boiled. It’s time to sign off, I can only hold off procrastination for so long. A cuppa tea is my reward for opening my heart and sharing this story.
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