Monday, 30 May 2011
The Case For Indulging In Passions
I have it on the best authority that being obsessed can be a good thing.
Let me explain:
Twice in the past twenty odd years I have been close to extinction physically, once with kidney failure and once with cancer; both came out of nowhere, both hit me practically overnight. The first time my immune system got the wrong message and turned on me instead of protecting me, while the cancer sneaked up while I wasn't paying attention and simply fell out of me one morning.
Neither occasion was pleasant. Both had nasty treatments and subsequently caused other problems. It also was not true for me what they say about being seriously ill giving you such a shock that, if you are lucky enough to survive, you change your life and henceforth live each day 'to the max'. That only lasts for a short period; personally, I was soon back in my slothful ways.
Reader, fear not: this is not going to be a tale of woe about ailments, but rather a short guide on how to get over them.
The more obsessed you are with a healthy pursuit, the better your chances of survival.
Beloved and I had not been together for long when nephrotic syndrome hit me. After years of solitary struggle I was madly in love, deliriously happy and high on passion, literally. Stays in hospital were nothing more than annoying interruptions of this wonderful state of being. Doctors and surgeons insisted that I must be hospitalised three times in one year, but they did let me out to get married and have three days off for good behaviour afterwards. I must have bored the nurses and doctors rigid with tales of my good fortune during that time; in the end I became something of a mascot, their favourite bad penny, in and out like a yo-yo.
By the time cancer struck I had got used to being in a twosome; my attention had shifted focus. Among other things, I had become passionate about gardening; having moved to the countryside and acquired a large patch made that entirely necessary, as well as a great pleasure.
I was again extremely fortunate that I hit it off with my oncologist/surgeon and during the full year of treatments and visits we became firm gardening buddies. This continued for as long as I had to see her, every aftercare session turned into a discussion on our progress in the garden, hers and mine. She was as passionate about gardening as I was, in fact, her narrow and delicate surgeon's hands were rough and calloused from tending potatoes.
On both occasions the medical staff congratulated me on my attitude towards being ill. Being positive helps, although there are times when 'being positive' is more than the patient can bear and letting go temporarily is as healthy as being strong. Remission or survival are not always the outcome, death is always on the cards too.
But my oncologist actually put it into words for me, she said: " I find that those of my patients who have a focus away from the cancer, who are passionate about something, something that they find totally absorbing, have the best chance of survival".