In the Blink of an Eye

Three months ago when I stepped on Spanish soil, I had to make many decisions about how to live in that country. I had to quickly adapt without the benefit of having my American family or friends with me. I chose to fully immerse myself in everything Spain.

I put aside my allergen sensitive diet and ate most everything I was offered. At first I didn’t notice any dramatic symptoms. I was fighting the heat, dehydration, and jet lag. I guess I was dealing with culture shock as well, but didn’t realize it at the time.

“You made it to Spain! You are experiencing the trip of your life. Don’t miss a second of it.” Those were the words that kept me going. Adapt, adapt, adapt. Push, push, push. “It’s only six weeks,” I reminded myself. All the while that I partook, my body registered everything that was happening.

My trip of a lifetime, seeing sights like the Roman aqueduct from the 1st century, Segovia, Spain.

My trip of a lifetime, seeing sights like the Roman aqueduct from the 1st century, Segovia, Spain.

Now That I’m Home

I returned home from Spain in early August and was again dealing with adjustments back to my American lifestyle and diet. But after the first few weeks, I didn’t bounce back to my old normal self. I knew something was physically wrong. A trip to the naturopath confirmed what I suspected. My Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) was in relapse.

I’ve been here before. I know it is a slow process to get back up and running to a normal pace—one that includes lots of self-care, body work, and giving myself grace to not push so hard. I have no regrets. It just goes to show that you never know when or how things can suddenly change in your life.

Back in Spain

Case in point, a few weeks after I left Spain, Rafa, Pedro’s father, had a stroke. It came as a big shock to me and, of course, to their entire family. Thankfully Rafa got treatment right away. He is doing much better and a full recovery is expected.

Queen for a day, with Rafa as my escort at the Royal Palace in Madrid.

Queen for a day, with Rafa as my escort at the Royal Palace in Madrid.

Naturally it took me back to the fears I had after my mother’s stroke. She never regained her speech or use of the right side of her body. It also felt like déjà vu to me as I lit a candle in the Catholic Church for Rafa and fervently prayed for this family. My heart ached for Rosa again, and for the burden that fell upon the family while still caretaking for Perico, Rosa’s father.

On the bright side, I was so grateful to have personally met Rafa before this happened. I was thankful for the many special times I had with this family, and Rafa in particular.

Rafa was a wonderful host and tour guide while on my travels throughout Spain. He is an avid shutterbug like me and took lots of great photos of my trip.  He was also my protector in many ways—even going so far as to escort me one Sunday morning on the subway so I could attend a Protestant Church service. I am thankful for his generosity to me and am praying for his continued recovery.

GOD-NEVER-BLINKSIn the Blink of an Eye

A few years ago, I used to have a tag line as part of my email signature block that read: Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks. (Regina Brett) It was a little reminder to trust God when things didn’t go as I expected.

Nothing surprises God. He knows what lies ahead for us. It is up to us how we are going to respond to it.

As I am coming out of denial and learning to accept what I did to my body again, I am believing in God’s promises and clinging to the hope that He offers. His words to me, and others who are hurting in physical and emotional ways, are from a familiar Bible verse: “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)

I can blink without worry because my hope is in the Lord.

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2 Comments

  1. Ardis, I  am so glad you shared this part of yourself.  It’s courageous. You wrote it well.  I think your ministry to women must include this part of your life. It’s a fact that there are times when CFS dominates your life, and you deserve the time and effort required to deal with it.  People see only what you show them, and not what it costs you. This was brave.  Revealing the fact you have it, and occasionally sharing the impact it has on you, can be very useful in showing how your faith keeps you going and strong.  And that CFS is just a part of your life.  Not who you are.

    I know there are so very many others out there who also suffer deeply and alone with all the aspects of this condition.  This public “outing” helps integrate the public parts of who you are and may help others accept when you set the boundaries for yourself when you need self care.  

    As you show your acceptance of these unwelcome limitations that come and go, I think you’ll be helping so many others who share the symptoms but don’t even know it’s a treatable condition and that it can’t just be bulldozed with a strong attitude of positivity.  I like that you shared that it’s difficult right now, and you know it’s a process and it will get better.   

    Terry

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    • Thanks Terry for your words of encouragement. You’ve been a big help to me along my journey of body healing. What is hard with my condition is that it seems invisible. I can generally function like a normal person. But as I’ve been reminded yet again with my over-indulgence in Spain, my body is a temple and needs to be treated like one. I hope others who suffer with symptoms that they think are just related to burnout, will seek professional care like naturopathic, massage, etc. and change their lifestyle before it’s too late. And you’re right, my CFS doesn’t define me. My faith in God does. Ardis

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  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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