Sometimes I forget I have Chiari.
How is that possible?
Living with a disorder so relevant to my daily activities, it seems its presence would smack me in the face all day, every day.
Yet, it doesn't.
Many days, Chiari, or my brain, or brain surgery never comes to mind (no pun intended).
Then, other days, I am overwhelmingly aware of its presence, of my uniquely shaped skull and those things that once screamed out at me as limitations.
Today has been one of those days. Having the flu, with coughing, body aches and chills really is not so fun. Not fun at all. As I reached my aching arms out from under my bedspread this morning, willing myself out of bed--it hit me. Hard. Vertigo. I fell back on the bed and braced myself until it subsided, just head congestion, I thought. Eventually, I fell back to sleep. Hours later, I shivered myself awake. Freezing, I attempted to roll over and snuggle up to my husband when it hit me again. Debilitating vertigo. Spinning, can't-move-so-hold-on-until-its-gone vertigo.
Then I remembered. Last time I had the spinning dizziness this bad, I was diagnosed with Chiari. Now almost five years later, again- the room kept spinning. I allowed my body to go limp as I laid in my husband's arms and sobbed. The nurse in me knows this is likely brought on by the flu virus my body is busy fighting. Rationally, I know the odds of this being some problem that could require another surgery are super slim. Yet, just for a few minutes, I allowed myself to become a victim again.
My mind raced back over the past few years of diagnosis, the search for treatment, surgery, recovery, pain, losses, wins, physical therapy, massage, work, writing, loving, losing, supporting, giving up, giving in, letting it be, hating Chiari, hating my body, loving my body, the people I've met through this, the people I've lost through this, financial loss, financial gain, travel, headaches, MRIs, choking, walking, fatigue, energy work, body work, inner work....then I slept.
Upon waking, the tears had dried on my face making my eyes feel tight, my damp shirt clung to my body as I slowly and purposefully turned over, sat, then stood. On shaky legs, I steadied myself against the wall, crept slowly to the door and down the stairs. The room never started to spin, I did not get dizzy. I did not fall down.
I did, however, drink a glass of water, make my way to the sofa, snuggle under a blanket, watch the sunrise and shed precious tears of gratitude. Appreciation flooded my body as I realized, nothing has changed. I am still beating the odds. My body is up to the task of living, loving, thriving (not merely surviving).
As my tears once again dried up, I realized that I had forgotten for a brief time that I had Chiari. Like the way one forgets for awhile they they were abused, raped, abandoned or betrayed, stumbling intrepidly forward in life, with each feeble step putting distance between what was and what currently is.
Often, I am asked (sometimes angrily) why I delve into the past, examine my life, dissect minute details and question, question, question everything. "Can't you just be happy to have survived? Can't you just move on? Be grateful? Don't you realize that other people have things so much worse? Well, you should just count your blessings."
Don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to counting blessings. I do not write these thoughts in a manner of comparison or competition with the wins and woes of others. I write, I ask and I examine because it feeds my soul.
Examining the why of it all, the wonder of it all, the pain of it all catalyzes the meaning of it all. Understanding leads to acceptance. Acceptance soothes the barbs of sadness. Soothing evokes easy movement. Movement leads to increased energy flow. Increased energy flow ignites endorphins and soon there is an eruption of joy.
Having the flu reminded me I have Chiari and that my neurological system is delicate. Understanding that because of this, the flu and its remedies (like Tamiflu) affect me differently. Accepting this helps me give into the process of healing, even the moments of sobbing defeat. Soothing and being gentle with myself makes moving through the process easier. As the movements occur, my energy is increased, I feel better and more invigorated...and I use that energy to spill my thoughts onto this page. Writing brings me great joy.
So, yes! Sometimes I forget I have a Chiari Malformation... and remembering that I forgot brings me great joy.