If you've been following along with the happenings on the hill, you know that we brought a very sick brother to live in (what my daughter calls) the family commune. We now have the households of three siblings and their grown or mostly grown children living on the farm.
We began this particular leg of the journey in November, and though he wasn't robust, he was a man who could fix himself a sandwich, do his own laundry, and basically take care of himself. He isn't an herb guy, and he'd chosen to follow a very rigorous regime of chemotherapy. My job was to watch over him and make sure that he ate nourishing foods and took his meds on schedule. He'd had a couple of rough patches and needed someone watching over him. We figured with the whole gang handy, there'd always be someone around to do that.
Construction began, and within 2 months we had a new abode for him, a brand new, fully functioning apartment that I sometimes coveted for my own :-).
Somewhere along the way, ever so gradually, things started changing. It was little stuff. He started sleeping more. He had a tough time getting food out of the kitchen for himself. He couldn't remember to do the everyday things that we all do without thinking. And before I knew it, he was sleeping 20 - 22 hours a day and needed to be reminded to eat or drink.
Looking at that paragraph, it would seem that anyone could see what was happening, but along the way we went to appointments, described the decline, and were reassured that this was not out of the ordinary. Everyday I struggled to get him to go outside, eat something, engage in life... but he wasn't interested.
Over the weekend, nothing really noticeable happened. Nothing remarkable. Except he looked gray. He has a furrow in his forehead that only shows up when he's very sick. His movements became painfully, incredibly slow. I called the doctor and followed instructions. He'd fallen the other day and was now complaining about soreness in his chest, sides, and back.
Sunday I started to notice a sore throat, but didn't have time to do anything about it. Every so often I'd slather some elderberry jelly on a piece of toast and pat myself on the back for keeping it at bay. There was no time to be sick, and that was that!
Yesterday we decided it was time to take him to the hospital. Again, no real big flashing light... just that things were not right. He got ready, and I called my sister to tell her we were ready.
Just like that, my head started thumping, and there was a sharp pain in my stomach. Within 10 minutes, I was feeling horrible, but figured it would pass. Off we went on our 15 minute trip. By the time we got to the hospital, I couldn't decide whether to pass out or throw up (choosing the latter). As soon as he was settled and the docs had the info they needed, Maryanne brought me home and went back with her son.
As it turns out, his electrolytes are whacked out and it is a pretty serious condition. They are working very hard to get him back in balance, and he'll probably be in the hospital for some time.
It may sound crazy, but the SECOND the responsibility of his care was lifted, my body stopped fighting. Literally within minutes, a bug that I'd been holding off for three days took over and clobbered me, rendering me a quivering blob of thick and dull uselessness. I have never experienced such a sudden and complete transformation.
It reminds me of the class we took with Barbara Good, when she told us that our bodies hear every word we say, and listen to what we are thinking. She told us to rise up each morning and state, "I feel GOOD today!"
I've followed that advice many times when there were bugs flying around at my old workplace, and it did seem to make a difference.
Others would say, "oh no... I'll be sick soon." and so they would be.
But sometimes, like when there is long-term extreme stress, I think you can talk until you're blue in the face and your body will still take a break if it needs one.
So now I'm slugging down the echinacea/elderberry/osha tea with lots of honey. My chest is covered with a salve full of penetrating oils. Unfortunately, my stomach protests to the smell of garlic right now, as it did when I was pregnant. No phone calls, and only the smallest amount of computer work. I lolled on the sofa most of the day watching a parade of talk shows, dozing off and on. If I weren't so sick, it would have been almost enjoyable.
In a couple of days I'll be fine, and I will pay a little more attention to the signs my own body is making from now on.