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Laurie Markvart's Diary of Nothing Left Unsaid

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COVID

The Missing COVID Deadline

It’s August 2020. We’re still very much in the throes of COVID. By now, we all know someone who experienced it or is actively in the illness’s retches. Or dealing with job loss or financial woes or we’re pulling together personal fragments of our current life with past life familiarities. Or we’re embracing a whole new way of life in which we don’t know if or when it will continue. There is no COVID deadline. And we are a society of deadlines. And we usually like to wrap shit up when it gets uncomfortable.

Most everything has a deadline or an ending—TV shows, movies, cooking, sporting events, roller coasters, tides, taxes, pregnancy. Many moons ago, when I was pregnant, around that eighth month when my belly was huge, I knew I had one more month to go. I could put my mind at ease, knowing the deadline was approaching. And with that deadline was a return to a somewhat familiar body and the gift of a beautiful baby boy. With COVID, we have no idea how we’re all going to end up. This is tricky.

During COVID, our stress has been out the window, down the street, and causing chaos on the neighbors. You get my drift. It’s not easy for anyone, and we’re all experiencing it and, unfortunately, sometimes sharing it on strangers.

Long-term stress is hard on the body. Our fight-or-flight response is supposed to engage when needed and then return to normal. If it remains “on,” it can cause health problems. It’s like a car motor idling too high for too long. It weakens the engine. We’re not meant to be in fight-or-flight all the time. And without a COVID deadline, we are. We don’t know when we’ll have resolve, predictability, relaxation, and time to say…” Ah, THAT is now over. Body, you are no longer threatened. Whew!”

COVID has messed up our deadlines. So has that breast cancer thing I’ve been dealing with since January. Yup, I’ve been in a COVID/cancer sandwich since the beginning of the year. But look, there is no pity party here. This is unique timing and a brilliant learning experience. See, with cancer, there is no deadline either. It can return. My scans and tests have recently come back negative, which is FANTASTIC, but I have to work hard to make sure my body stays cancer-free. Especially during a pandemic. My learning? Between COVID and cancer, I’ve given up on deadlines. And here is why and I hope this helps you as well. Instead of worrying when COVID will end or cancer return, I’m living in the now. The right here and now. The now is pleasurable and relaxing if we make it that way! I needed to accept being in the now or unsure how I’d deal with this chaotic situation. I can no longer let my motor idle hard and long. Neither can you.

We all need to fall in love with the now. Live NOW. Don’t worry or stress about when COVID will go away. Be safe and smart, and embrace your now. There will never be another day like today or another moment like this one. COVID, cancer, or not.

COVID, Cancer, Flat Tires, and a Silver Lining

COVID and cancer. They go together like whip cream and jerky. Or like the jagged nail in my car’s flat tire. A vehicle I drove once over the past three weeks. What’re the chances? Then again, what are the chances I’d be diagnosed with breast cancer right before a pandemic? Apparently, quite good. Too bad this wasn’t my odds in Vegas the last time I went. But see, if we look for the silver lining, we’ll appreciate the odds even if they don’t first appear in our favor. Well, except for that nail. That just sucks. But it did get me walking to the local Trader Joe’s, half a mile away and carrying two bags of groceries back home, which doubled as my day’s work out.

Okay, a silver lining. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January, I was shocked. It wasn’t in my immediate family, and I didn’t have the typical cancer markers. It wasn’t in my awareness or on my tongue. But it was in me. It was growing like the garden weed I mentioned in my previous post. It starts underground, setting roots and warding off the immune system (weed killer) and settling in like it owns the joint.

How did I let cancer take over? For the past couple of years before the diagnosis, I disregarded my body, my “garden.” I was mourning the death of my mom and the demise of a long-term romantic relationship. I was adjusting to other personal and family stressors, a couple of job changes, putting the finishing touches on writing a book. I stopped meditating, exercising, and eating correctly. I stopped going to church. I was drinking more to dull the ache in my heart and mind. I put myself in unhealthy situations, ignored my intuition and God. Basically, I gave the weed full permission to grow.

So, to the silver lining, right? Well, wait a bit.

When the weed (cancer) busted above ground to where I could feel it, I was like…oh, shit, time to wake up. But, I didn’t just wake up to cancer and to be a victim of it in a woe is me way, I was like …how’d it get here? I’m not one to just accept anything. I question everything. So, why did I abandon me? I looked more in-depth as to why it happened and I created a plan that went back into the dirt, back to the source, and back to the reason. That’s where I started, and that was the journey I was on. Along with two surgeries to get it out. And then COVID came.

COVID and cancer. When conventional cancer treatments (chemo, radiation) temporarily annihilate the immune system, and there’s a hardcore virus lurking around, they don’t go together. So what do I do? Well, I considered the pros and cons. And I had time to do so because of COVID.

Like everyone else, I was forced or I say “gifted” into isolation. I was laid off, the world stopped, and I could face myself head-on. Because of COVID, I took the time to pull back, put the doctors on hold, and listen to my intuition. And to God. And most of all to my body. And to decide what was best for me. I was able to take a deeper dive on a spiritual, emotional, and physical level into “why” I have cancer. Why did I let my body and spirit get so broken that I caused my immune system to stop working and not fight cancer off? And what can I now do to heal my body and make sure this doesn’t happen again? It’s kind of like that nail in my car’s tire. Sure, I ran over it. It didn’t just appear there! But how? Well, maybe I should stay in my damn lane and not veer off into freeway debris? Perhaps I should slow down? Maybe I should have bought a more durable tire? This is my third flat tire, so I should probably make a change in my habits! And the same with my body. And due to COVID and quarantine, I can. And that is my silver lining.

During these times, I send peace, love, and healing to all those deeply affected by COVID 19 and to those who feel they’re losing their minds during quarantine…you’re not. You are not alone! We will all be okay. And its a great time to look for your silver lining.

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