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The Ultimate Test Of Daily Wellness Practices: Getting Thrown Into The Unknown With A Lot At Stake

Getting Thrown

At 2pm Friday I was supposed to fly from Toronto to Kathmandu for a Himalayan Writing Retreat and vacation. I’ve been looking forward to this adventure for months. I made sure to make time to prepare for the trip over the past couple weeks because the lead up to a big trip is part of the experience. I even packed my bags two days early!! I’ve never been that organized before.

And then, as I was finishing packing, my right eye became blurry. I assumed it was lotion or something similar in my eye. I removed my contact lens, rinsed my eye with saline and expected it to be clear by morning. No such luck. It was now the day before my flight. I got in to see my Optometrist who discovered I have a tear in the retina of my right eye. Oh No!! How it happened is a mystery. Foremost on my mind however was to find out if it can be repaired and whether I’ll be able to go on my trip.

At my Optometrist’s urging, my partner Ian and I jumped in the car and drove 100km down the highway to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto where the best eye specialists in the county are said to reside. I was through emergency and in the Ophthalmologist’s office within an hour. Then the waiting started. There was a lot of blood in the area of the tear and doing the laser repair was challenging because he couldn’t see the tear very well.

After a few attempts to repair the tear so I could catch my flight the next day, the Ophthalmologist decided it wasn’t possible. The blood needs to clear. I have to go back today, Saturday morning. Which means I was not able to fly Friday. I don’t know if or when I’ll be able to go on my trip. 

On the long drive home I thought about my situation. The usual questions… why now? why me? I was mad, sad, disappointed and tired. I cried and felt sorry for myself at various points during the evening. I’ve invested a lot in this trip beyond money – research time, immunizations, visa, organizing my work schedule, planning what to take and imagining what the experience would be like. I’m excited to spend time with interesting people in an interesting part of the world where I have not yet been.

What I noticed as the evening wore on, was a sense of neutrality or equanimity arising regarding whether and when I’d be able to go on my trip. Of course I wanted to go as scheduled but I have no control over the timing of the repair for my torn retina. I decided the best choice would be to accept that it would all work out as it was supposed to. What that is, at this moment I still don’t know.

Catching Myself

On Friday, yesterday, as I spent the day resting, my thoughts shifted to gratitude.

  • How fortunate I am that I was able to take it easy and rest my eye to help the blood clear. I had no responsibilities to attend to other than myself.
  • I was able to walk into a hospital and see the best eye care doctors in the country at no cost on a moment’s notice
  • The doctor scheduled an appointment to see him Saturday so I wouldn’t have to go through the emergency routine again. He’s doing his best to get me on my trip.
  • I am privileged to be able to go on such an extraordinary adventure in the first place.
  • I actually bought flight insurance!! A first!!
  • I have a smart and responsive travel agent Stephanie who helped me work through my options and decide what course of action to take given all the unknowns.
  • How kind and supportive the hosts of the writer's retreat have been regarding my situation.
  • My partner Ian was right there by my side and being as helpful as he could to make me more comfortable and do the driving!! He also supported me going on this trip when he had no interest to go himself.

Even though I still don’t know whether I’ll be able to go to Kathmandu, I’m feeling more at peace. My energy has settled. I’ve let go of having to know and allowing myself to float in the unknown trusting that things will work out. Am I happy all this happened? Definitely not. I am happy I’ve been able to be with what is and reserve my energy for healing. 

Finding Equanimity

Regular daily practices. Every day I make a point of acknowledging how fortunate I am in so many aspects of my life. I make time for yoga, meditation, movement and quiet reflection. I read and study the ideas of a wide variety of writers and scholars on living an engaged and peaceful life. I cook and eat whole foods to nourish my mind and my body. Having abundant energy is a priority for me, therefore, I choose accordingly.

I’m not kidding. I believe what I do every day fortifies me with the stamina and resilience to be ok when things get hard. Like they did this week. What did I do when I got home at midnight from the hospital? I ate a can of sardines. Why? Because they are one of the best anti-inflammatory foods I know. I thought the sardines might help settle the disruption in my eye after all the probing and poking. It was a simple act that made me feel like I was making a positive contribution when I felt so little control. Plus I was hungry and I like sardines!

I’m off to the hospital this morning to find out if the doctor can laser the rest of the tear so I can get on a plane tomorrow which would be only a two day delay. The ultimate test of my ability to let things go!! Whether or not I’m able to go to Kathmandu this weekend, I realize I’m one lucky gal!

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We’ll move into possibility together!

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