Tag Archives: Chronic Illness

Episode XVI: Encased in Carbonite

Episode XVI

Encased in Carbonite

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

 “The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

 The Foda’s take: The only thing I disagree with here is that it sounds like you will only have one moment like this that will stand out from all the rest. But it seems to be part of the human experience to know this moment many, many times. The smart ones use it not as a negative, but as a marker to show how far you’ve come, and how far you’ll go.

 Let me paint a picture for you. It’s the end of Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. Han Solo is led to the isolation chamber, tired and beaten, resigned to his fate. He is slowly lowered into the cavern, white smoke billowing out around him. Leia leans forward and blurts out: I love you! Han gives her a half smile and replies simply: I know. Valves spin, mechanisms whir, and he is frozen, encased in a golden block of carbonite.

Okay, let’s talk about this for a minute. First off, how hard would it have been for him to say three words instead of two? I mean, really- I love you— I know. Seriously???!!!! (Although it did make for a super cute novelty mug I gave my husband Mandalf for Christmas.) But that’s not the point. The point is that just because Han happened to be friends with Luke Skywalker, he was trapped in a metal cube for months. And this led me to reflect on how isolating it can be to feel trapped in a body or a life that just won’t give.

All people feel lonely; that’s nothing new. But isolation is different. Isolation is something that feels like it happens to you- a separation between you and the rest of the world. When you have a chronic illness or personal trauma, it often feels like the world goes on without you, while you’re stuck, much like Han, in a block of cement. It makes us feel ostracized, different, like the wasabi shmushed to the side of every sushi platter, just hoping to be added into the mix. (Mmmm Sushi. Yum.)

It’s no surprise why humans who live with this kind of isolation have such a hard time with it. In prison, solitary confinement is considered cruel and unusual- the worst punishment we can devise for the living- existence without human contact. And yet people with chronic illness spend so much of their time chained to their house this way… and they did nothing wrong. Infuriating, no? We all just want our Princess Leia to come and rescue us; push a few buttons and let the carbonite casing melt away. But often, try as we might, wish as we do, no one is going to save us- and we will reconcile ourselves to finding worth and wisdom in being forced onto the road less traveled.

So where’s my silver lining in all this? I’d like to say that I’ve found a way to make this kind of isolation from the world less painful- that I’m no longer bothered by the fact that the world moves on while I can’t- but that’s not true. I have, however, found ways to feel like I’m contributing to the world, even when I can’t leave my couch. I’ve learned how to create a website. I’ve written, I’ve created, I’ve taught myself calligraphy, I’ve learned how to make jewelry. I’ve named all my plants. (Don’t judge me there. I will sic my snake plant on you. Whose name, by the way, is Daisy.)

But I think the most important thing about being put into proverbial carbonite is that it’s given me the rare opportunity to sit and think and decide what is truly important. I like to think that when this time in my life has passed, I will be strong, and fearless, and wise beyond my young years, because I will have survived true trials and tribulations.

So although I would love for Princess Leia to come and rescue me too… I’m just going to have to do it myself.

Just so long as I’m not actually big eared, wrinkly, and green by then.

In closing, since we started with a F. Scott Fitzgerald quote from Gatsby, I will leave you with the same. As my father Dobiwan is so fond of saying:

“No matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And then one fine morning-— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” 

 Here’s to your one fine morning.

Cheers,

The Foda

Episode XI: Trapped in the Pit of Carkoon

Episode XI

Trapped in the Pit of Carkoon

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“Thank God I found the GOOD in Goodbye.” 

-Beyoncé Knowles

 The Foda’s Take: Most human beings HATE change they didn’t choose, especially if the change is painful. It can take years to discover the good things that came from being in that proverbial pit you were stuck in for so long- but there’s always a payoff. You just don’t know what it is yet.

 Have you ever heard that song… you know, the one that goes And on that tree… there was a branch… the prettiest branch… that you ever did see…Oooh, the branch on the tree and the tree in the hole and the hole in the ground and the green grass grew all around, all around, and the green grass grew all around! 

And on that branch…..

There was a leaf…..

Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.

This is a great song to sing on long car rides. (Or, at least, it was before cars had TVs and various smart devices built right into them.) Why, you ask? Because it never ends. You can literally continue to build leaves, squirrels, dust mites, a whole ecosystem on that darn hole if you want!

What is my great life analogy with this, you ask? (You rascally little reader, you know me so well!) Well, when you first start this song, it’s fun. It’s a hole in the ground where green grass grows all around. It’s a blank slate, full of imagination and possibilities! But by the time some smart-aleck adds a Bonobo chimp to the speck of mold on the unicorn’s tail… it can get a little old.

Chronic illness is the same thing. At first, it’s a puzzle. And while it’s certainly not approached with the same fresh-faced excitement as a car-ride sing-a-long, at least it’s approached with stamina and an open mind. But, like this song, it can get overwhelming VERY quickly.

I used to count the days since I’d been well. I used it as some sort of ruler, like by saying it had been x amount of years, I was reminding the universe that I karmically deserved the pendulum to swing back in my favor sooner rather than later. But then someone who had dealt with a debilitating illness that lasted many years told me:

Stop counting.

But… but… if I stop counting how long it’s been, won’t it mean that…

What. I won’t get better faster? I won’t fight harder? I won’t continue to do everything in my power to get well? What?

Wow. Fine. If you wanna be all logical and practical about it.

You know what? I think I do.

Fine!

Fine.

(Sidebar- don’t you just love being privy to my little cranial conversations?) The point is, sometimes life gives you a hole in the ground, much like the Pit of Carkoon- resting place of the all-powerful Sarlacc! And when you (and not a tree) are in that hole, it can feel like all you can do is scratch off the days like Edmund Dantès did in The Count of Monte Cristo during his imprisonment in the Chateau d’If. But once the scratches on the wall get more and more numerous- it can feel less and less likely that you’re ever going to get out. But as I said before in Episode VII– this is a feeling, not a fact.

So stop counting. The past is not a predictor for the future. The hole is not a prison; it does not have a ceiling- there is blue sky above, even if you’re too far down to see it now.

But to those of you who are deep in the hole right now, I hear you, I feel your pain and your impatience and your cries of being wrongly locked away. It’s not easy, but stop counting- I promise, it feels so good to let go. (Just be forewarned- letting go is not an act you do just once. You have to continue to choose it again, and again, and again.)

And if you can’t do that, at least I’ve given you a really, really long song to sing while you’re down there.

Happy humming,

The Foda

Are you just dying to become a character in The Foda’s Galaxy?      

Comment down below, or send an email with your thoughts to TheFemaleYoda@gmail.com. 

If your comment inspires a post, you will be given your very own persona and take your rightful place in The Foda’s Cast of Characters!

 

Episode I: Overcoming Chronic Illness: A New Hope

Episode I

Overcoming Chronic Illness: A New Hope

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” 

-Yoda, Episode IV

The Foda’s take: So, like….. don’t….. start.

 Hi there! Come on in and welcome! Welcome to Words of Wisdom on hope and overcoming illness from the Female Yoda. The Foda, if you will. Now I know what you’re thinking. Yoda was a tiny green puppet who dissipated into thin air on the swampy planet of Dagobah. (And if you didn’t know that, really, why are you here?) Thus, the birth of The Foda. I’m tiny, long winded, and rarely say anything in the most direct way possible. Also, I’m wicked wise. And three years ago, I started turning green. Lyme green. Oh, I heard that! Your inner dialogue going: say WHAT?! You heard right. Three years ago I started my journey towards becoming a Lyme-a-been. (But “been” pronounced the British way, like “bean.” As in, one day I will have become a Lyme-a-been, as in, am no longer now…. having…. the Lyme.) Told you speaking oddly I do.

Sidebar- by what percentage would you say a play on words gets less funny when you have to explain it? 

Moving on. Yup, me and my bad self had a tangle with a microscopic woodland creature (sorry, can’t speak four letter words here) and it changed my life forever, putting me into the Lyme light (too soon for puns?) and giving me a condition called Lyme Disease. But, silver lining, it also has gifted me with a journey chock-full of character building experiences. And the green exterior really helps me pull off the whole Foda thing.

So here I am! Spouting off wisdom and finding silvery linings through combating chronic illness- and no, it’s not just the smoke coming off of the murky swamp R2D2 fell in upon arrival. And while I may be slower, more reclusive, and generally living 40 years beyond my age bracket, when all is said and done, no one will be able to say my life wasn’t interesting.

This is my journey. Maybe it’s your journey too. Easy, it is not. But, hey. As Kermit the Frog once said: it’s not easy being green. So come one, come all, fellow Lyme-a-beens and Star Wars fiends. And welcome to the wonderful wise world of the Female Yoda.

 Go Green,

The Foda