Coping with Sickness

I quit blogging about it (only mentioning it on twitter and facebook) but I’ve been sick for over a month now. After a couple of weeks of on and off thinking that I might be getting better, it seemed best just to quit talking about it here. It was annoying enough to those around me in person without necessarily spreading my grousing more widely.

I risk jinxing it, it feels, by saying anything now but I think that I’m finally getting better. My symptoms were worse a few weeks ago (chronic fatigue, headaches, other flu-like symptoms) and had leveled off to just mild occasional fever, sleeping problems, and weakness during the last two (with bonus points for my heart racing at 97 beats a minute when resting). I’m still not sleeping well at all and am weak but I have been feeling much better otherwise for a couple of days. I’m hoping that I’m finally entering the recovery phase. My doctor has said that he doesn’t need to see me again unless I relapse or the somehow get worse. He expects that I’ll be able to go to Berlin just after Christmas as I had been planning for my work (taking R with me as well).

Sickness is one of the forms of suffering that the Buddha witnessed before he renounced his life. All of us suffer from it at one time or another. I’ve actually been very fortunate in my life to be free of sickness. I’ve only had the standard flu once and some sort of viral flu that afflicted me a couple of years ago in my ears. Beyond these two things, I have never been seriously sick of body as an adult beyond an easily upset stomach that required medication a few years ago. I almost never get a cold or sore throat for more than a couple of days even. All of these helped make me pretty lousy at being sick, as it turns out. In the grand scheme of things, my illness this last month (assuming it is truly over) has been very minor compared to what many friends and family have suffered through in the past. I expect that I will be much more sick, especially when I get older, at some future point. In a minor sense, it has shaken me a little to see how easily my mind and mindset can be derailed by a minor but slightly lengthy illness. It seems my equanimity is not what it should be and I should keep this in mind in the future. It gives me all the more respect to some of the great Buddhist practitioners of the past (and today) who have practiced while being very badly sick for years or decades. We should all aspire to such strength.

Beyond that, I don’t have much to say. It is just something that had been on my mind when I’ve considered the last month of illness and my own practice.

P.S. For those with twitter and who care, I am “arcanology” on it (surprise!). I’ve avoided it for much of the last year or so but finally succumbed to its wiles. Since it updates my facebook status, I can use two marginally wasteful social networking tools at once!