I live with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, 3 fractured vertebrae, type-2 diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, IBS, and a host of other odds and sods. I also have twisted hands, 2 titanium knees, 1 titanium shoulder and completely rebuilt feet with a Whitworth screw in my right big toe holding it together! I take lots of meds for all the conditions too or I would not still be here … too much pain and I’m off! Pain screws my head. It makes everything go black so I see and know nothing but the pain. It makes me clumsy so I fall over – thus risking more spinal and other fractures! So I don’t find doing pain is at all productive, nor is it safe if I want to keep on living! I also get lots of unasked for advice from well-meaning persons, usually who don’t have any of the conditions, suggesting I change this, that and the other thing. It drives me mad and I’m known to be quite rude if they persist.
I’ve been living with these conditions since 1982 so they and I are fairly well used to each other now although it does sometimes feel like the twisting coils of these gold torcs. I’ve also been working with the medical profession for all that time. It’s been an interesting 33 years, half of my current lifetime! And by the time I get to leave this incarnation I’ll have been living with the conditions for probably 2/3rd of my life, so much more used to being with them than without them.
As a shaman, how do I work with all this?
I was brought up (way back in the 1950s and 60s) to make friends with everything and to ask everything – visible/invisible, matter/spirit – what it needed from me and what it had to offer me. This is a fundamental principle of the way of the deer trods that I grew up with, that my parents, grandparents and so on (back to the Ark or whatever) had all grown up with and passed on to me. And that’s how I and the conditions live together. I’ve found making friends with the spirit of the disease and asking it what it needs of me AND what it has to gift to me have been very helpful.
I wouldn’t be writer now without the RA and the other conditions. I’d still be slogging away being a computer systems designer and project manager, probably earning shitloads of money instead! And, ye gods, am I glad to be away from all that!
The conditions actually stopped me working my arse off for no particular reason except money – that was part of their gift to me. I’d never have left of my own accord. In fact I used to say I really would get down to writing when I got around to it … round toits, as I’m sure you know, are in incredibly short supply! Needless to say otherworld got utterly fed up with me and stopped me in my tracks. It happened overnight, literally, I woke up unable to move and ended up in ER, which led on to specialist and other stuff and, eventually, to me being retired as I really am no good at ordinary work. I mean, on a good day with a following wind, I last maybe five minutes walking and not even two minutes standing still! I throw cups on the floor because my hands don’t grip, I can’t carry anything because of my back, in fact I’m a bloody wreck *smile* and quite unemployable in the ordinary way. I’m also quite plain-spoken too as I expect you already know, not likely to be “tactful” and I certainly don’t suffer fools at all. These traits, which are inherent, are also exacerbated by the pain and don’t make for being a good employee! I loathe politics too and every, but every, organisation has politics! If you don’t deal well with their politics they throw you out on your ear.
I’m not rich, we get by, no posh holidays or cars, no shopping therapy trips, no expensive toys – except the TV and the hi-fi because I love watching science, nature and movies and listening to classical music and jazz. I live in the back of beyond, in the middle of fields, no neighbours, the nearest road over half a mile away and I can’t hear it, surrounded by wildlife and a garden I love, with super cat-friends and a husband. And I’m as happy as I can currently imagine.
We’re so much encouraged nowadays, in modern, everyday life, to “combat” apparent adversity and so we miss out on some wonderful gifts. The physical pain we suffer can be something good that stops us galloping blindly down a path that is no longer necessary for us – as it did me. If we stop, ask and look then we see the other path(s) otherworld is offering us. We humans can be so pig-headed it takes a slap in the face with a large wet shark to stop us LOL. Having worked it for myself, this is the way I help people in shamanic work … to ask, listen, discover from whatever they think is “afflicting” them what its purpose truly is. Sometimes they need to help what-ever-it-is, sometimes the thing is there trying to offer them help if they will only listen, and often it’s both, an exchange of goodness.
Once I stopped faffing about and listened to the conditions, asked them what they needed and what gifts they had for me, I discovered – wow! – are those some gifts! I live in a fantastic place, with everything I love. I have warmth, a roof, enough good food, and a few things to play with as well as lovely and inspiring friends. And the cats! And I’m writing. And people actually want to read what I write which is perhaps the best gift ever …
If you find yourself with diseases and conditions, adversities, relationship problems, whatever, do try chatting with them, their spirits, to discover what they need from you and what they have to give you. It really is worth it.