This weekend I received the delivery of my two (2) veggie/fruit bags from Natural Farms, the co-op I joined earlier in this year. As I was putting them away, I reached down and took the thick rubber band off of one of the veggies. As I held it in my hand, it suddenly spoke to me. Well, not literally, but it did create this innate understanding deep within me. Interestingly, an issue I have been pondering and struggling with … well, let me be completely honest here … in denial with … suddenly …
became crystal clear in a nan0-second.
During my last year of college I noticed that I was really struggling. When I started college, I would average about 2-3 weeks of missed classes, but by the end of my sixth year, I was missing 8 weeks a semester. Not very conducive for getting my assignments done or graduating at the top of my class.
I assumed, wrongly, that it was just the fact that I had pushed for so long to finish up school. Over the next few years, things didn’t seem to get any better no matter how much I slept or rested.
Since moving back to Tulsa last year, I think I have innately known what was wrong but just wasn’t ready to accept it or even confront it. However, holding that thick rubber band in my hand changed everything. Suddenly I knew what my struggle was and what I was refusing to come to terms with.
You see, a new rubber band has a lot of elasticity and bounce. You can push it past it’s boundaries over and over, and it always returns to its original shape. You never assume anything else will every happen.
However, once the rubber band has aged … or dried out some … you suddenly find when you push it beyond it boundaries that it no longer returns to its original shape. At some point, it may not even have much elasticity to it at all. Worst case scenario, you stretch the rubber band and it breaks.
In that moment when I was holding the rubber band, it became readily apparent to me that I was dealing with the ‘rubber band affect’ as far as my health was concerned. You see, in the first fifteen (15) or so years of my illness, I could always push beyond my boundaries and could pretty much bank on the fact that I would crash but I would always bounce back to where I had been.
The year before I graduated college, though, I began noticing a change in this rubber band affect. I wasn’t bouncing back as quickly as I once had. I even had episodes where I wasn’t making it back to square one.
Since moving back to Tulsa – after finishing college and helping my daughter through a very challenging pregnancy – I am now seeing, on a regular basis, that my body no longer has the same elasticity it once had. Part of it is the duration that I have now been sick and what Dr. Paul Cheney refers to as Phase III of CFIDS, but I also think a new element has been added to the mix. I will hit fifty (50) in a little over two (2) years.
I’m actually excited to turn fifty (50). I totally enjoyed my forties (40) and think my fifties (50) will be even more amazing. Despite that, age does have an affect on the ‘elasticity’ of our body whether we want to admit it or not. Especially, in light of the fact that I am no longer able to consistently exercise. And of course, there is the added effect of being chronically ill for over twenty (20) years.
While this might seem like a negative, for me it is a positive. No matter what challenge is placed before me, I know I can overcome it or learn to navigate around it if I just understand what it is. Maybe that type of thinking is left over from my military training, I don’t know. Despite that, I truly believe if I understand my ‘foe’ I can find a way to outwit him.
The rubber band affect has also helped me understand the constant up and down of CFIDS. My body, even after being devastated by this illness for over twenty (20) years now, still tries to return to its original state every time I have a crash. That is profoundly amazing to me. After all this time, my body still has elasticity and still remembers to bounce back. Even if it doesn’t manage to do it perfectly, it is still trying its darnedest to do so.
That gives me hope. It also humbles me to think of how incredible this thing we call our ‘body’ is. Twenty years of repeated assaults and my body hasn’t given up. It keeps trying to return to its original shape.
For me, that rubber band will forever remind me of the rubber band affect and how my body has not given up, even if it feels to me at times, like it has. It also will prove to be a symbol to remind me that if my body hasn’t given up after twenty (20) years, then I’m surely not giving up either.