Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fight or Float?

My supervisor has persuaded me to teach Saturday swim lessons, since there is no one else available to do the parent/infant classes. I'm going to take a 2 week break on the weekday classes. The session started today, though; so I found myself having to explain to a whole new crop of parents why I look so strange and my speech is a bit blurred. They take it well, I seem upbeat and in control, but it kills me inside.

After the lessons, I taught myself to swim with a paralyzed face. It is not so easy.
The goggles solve the problem of the eye that will not close. Without them, it's almost impossible to stay underwater for long. The bigger problem is the breathing. I had to train myself to allow the water to enter my mouth and then puff up my cheek and blow it out as I turn to breathe. Doing this I can manage to swim quite a distance, but I haven't tried doing flip turns yet. For a few moments, I felt a sense of accomplishment before I again gave in to depression.

Just like my face has two different sides, so does my psyche right now. On one hand, I want to approach this challenge head on, to fight it, to overcome. Online, I've seen the inspiring examples of Tracy and Jana and others who seem so positive and who are accomplishing so much despite scary things that have happened to them. On the other hand, I want to crawl under the covers and sob and cry and wail. I want to stop eating and living and moving.

The odd thing is that it might not be so good for me to be fighting, at least the way I approach things. I tend to push my body too much, to try to overcome physical limitations by strength of will. I'd do better if this were a problem I could improve by more exercise or mental effort. But from what I am reading, right now should be a waiting game. I need to rest, to recover, to take it easy. Too much exercise of the facial muscles could even cause the nerve to grow back wrong. So I just need to sit, slack-jawed, and accept my limitations.

I don't know if any of this can be attributed to God. Again, I'm of two minds. I want to make some spiritual sense out of this, to give it a meaning; but then I suspect that Bell's Palsy is just a part of the mortal condition. Perhaps it is something that happened randomly and is no part of a universal overarching plan for my life or the universe. Even though I fear the latter, I am choosing (even as I write this) to believe this has something to do with my spiritual education. I know I can learn submission through what I'm going through right now. So I might as well submit to God. If I can somehow use my feelings and my experiences to soften my heart, to make me willing, to cast myself upon the great ocean of His purpose and feel the currents of the Spirit, perhaps this horrifying nightmare will not have been in vain.

1 comment:

J G-W said...

I've had a couple of other friends who've had Bell's palsy.

I wish I had great words of advice or comfort. Bottom line: it sucks. I wish you didn't have to go through this.

I guess knowing whether God does this on purpose or whether it just "happens" as part of the mortal condition doesn't ultimately help much with the part of this that sucks, either... I've always felt trying to theologize one's way through these kinds of things never helped much either. Maybe it makes it easier to deal with this kind of stuff if you really, deep down inside, believe that it's happening for a purpose. But it's usually useless to try to convince yourself that there's a good reason for it if that's not where you're coming from.

But whether you can understand it or not, it looks like there's no choice but to accept, at some level... Might as well make a virtue out of necessity!

I miss you!