Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lotus Flower: I feel good and I'm coming out of the muddy swamp!!!

The LOTUS FLOWER (the national flower of my ancestors' country ironically) is one of the most ancient and deepest symbols of our planet. The lotus flower grows in muddy poopy swamp-like water and RISES above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty. At night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again.

The persistence of this flower and its ability to create beauty from what we perceive as mud has been brought to my attention by many books, friends, and spiritual teachings. In many ways, whatever our shitty muddy water is, whatever pile of perceived hell on earth we may experience from a breakup, a change, a job loss, a divorce, depression, illness, lack of love, impending death, abuse, internal demons, war, genocide, whatever it is, we all have the capacity to rise above, as nature intended, from a place of darkness to one of complete beauty and self-discovery.

Untouched by the impurity, the LOTUS flower symbolizes the purity of heart and mind despite the sludge and mud it lives in that we humans perceive as 'bad.' The lotus flower is viewed as a symbol of spiritual unfolding. The lotus has its roots in earthly mud, but as it grows upward in aspiration toward the light, its petals open out in a beautiful flower. Om Mani Padme Hum, meaning, "Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus" is the sacred mantra of the Tibetans.

Ok yes I am going to be that annoying person right now who reminds you (and I) how lucky we are to have arms and legs and a home and access to food and not have to live in a shack and walk miles to get a sip of water that might give you cholera. I have to say when people tell me that, and I am suffering in a way that words cannot describe, I want to sucker punch them in the FACE! Someone once told me, well at least you have your arms and legs, and then I told them all the symptoms of Lyme and how 4 years at least have been taken from me, my job, my career prospects, my cognitive abilities, sanity, physical ability, possessions, life, and how I've spent over $100,000 on credit cards for out of pocket medical costs and how I barely talk to most of my family b/c of this disease, and how fucked up the disease is, and then he was like, "Oh, yeah, that's bad." Thanks smartypants. But, I digress.

Back to being happy and annoying you. Yes, I am happy today so I will annoy you with my "BE GRATEFUL" motto. It's painted across my face in bright neon today. Gratitude brings abundance. It's true. Ok, I digress again.

I had a rough few weeks starting my last round of IV treatment. IV Doxy now. You know the kind where 1 night you want to die b/c it's like someone fed you 20 hits of acid (HONESTLY, I have never taken acid and have no idea what it feels like but I imagine 20 is near the overdose level and that's what it feels like). Every new IV drug brings on more herxing (see definition at the side of blog), a chemo-induced state of feeling like death for hours or days or weeks and then retreating to complete exhaustion, bouts of unexplained physical and psychological warfare on your body that you know is coming and you have gone through over and over for years as a Lyme patient, but that you just somehow cannot get used to. Years and you want the rollercoaster ride to be over....and then.....

HALLELUJAH! I wake up one day after 1 week through this Round of IV meds, feel progress. The drugs are working!!

Most of you know that I am not an advocate of Western drugs - I am much more holistic. But it is NIGHT and DAY with IV drugs. IV feels like it will kill you at first, and then wow, you, Mona, feel alive, feel that mischievous passionate love of life and happiness that emanates NOT from circumstances but from within! I feel and see Mona returning. It's like reuniting with a friend I haven't seen in 4 years.

I had 2 good days behind me. I was in the muddy sludgy trenches and just as nature says it is possible with the lotus flower, I rose above the surface of the brown water, and out come my white petals (or in this case, gold and yellow - I celebrated Halloween for the first time in FOUR years and went to a loud house party for the first time in 3 years!) It was scary, the noises and the lights and the people, I was overwhelmed, but I felt ALIVE. The Mona who loves to be crazy and laugh and well many of you know her - she made a visit that night and I actually made it through a whole party dressed up as a bee. Again, I digress. Gold petals, lotus flower, bee, you get the picture.

Then yesterday I was able to DRIVE to the store and get groceries! On my own, without feeling like a beached whale after! This is huge! I haven't done this in 3 weeks! And took myself to an appointment, and then went to the Conservatory in Golden Gate Park (my old special spot), where a beautiful white ornate building sits atop a huge field of trees, pathways, flowers, hills, and a bench always filled with about 5 drummers (mostly adorable and some toothless old men) and a didgeridoo and a little guitar player and the token hippie or two dancing in circles. I was just sitting meditating and I was drawn to the music (even though Lyme patients on IV notoriously hate noise) and as I came closer a piece of beauty was revealed to me through remembering how many times I had visited this place in the last 4 years, wondering how I got here.

Then I felt this feeling I've had many times since being ill, this feeling of acceptance, acceptance of loss of all my identities, acceptance of happiness being possible even while 'ill' and not able to do what all the other 33-year olds are doing, happiness with love in my heart, and just then (sorry to go all drum circle soul sister on you but this is my true nature as you all know, though sometimes disguised by my lawyer apparel), I saw a little baby learning to walk, and she kept falling and rolling over onto her side.

She kept coming towards me and her big blue eyes could see right through my sunglasses into my soul and she kept coming to me, and I held my hands out to motion her near. She kept falling and rolling like an adorable pudgy rolly-polly that I wanted to squeeze and kiss (but thought her grandmother would have me arrested so I didn't do that).

She kept ALMOST making it and then with the drums and music in the background and her eyes piercing my spirit, I could hear her saying (no she wasn't talking, she was hardly 1!) "Mona, see the world through my eyes, you see them. See the eyes of the world as a child, you see them. See the world the way I do. Walking, falling, rolling, music, clapping, simplicities. It's all as if for the first time. See how happy I am!"

If you are now wondering what IV drugs I was on at that moment in time, the answer is NONE. Hello, I don't infuse and drive - very dangerous. But I was on the Mona drug - the kind of endorphin that magically appears on occasion when enough Lyme has been killed off to make me think that something as simple as seeing the clouds is the most amazing and wonderful thing and I smile like a cracked out strawberry. That made no sense. Back to the story..

Now, NOT to brag (b/c really it's not anything to brag about), but little kids and babies and I have always had this really special vibe with each other, as in every one that passes by stares at me and I stare at them like we are sharing some kind of common understanding...we just gravitate towards each other and always have. It's like we're saying to each other, "Yeah these stupid adults running around in their monkey suits are buffoons. We know what real happiness is. It's having no filter and being deemed inappropriate by other well-mannered adults, laughing, seeing, and being SO excited about these things as if it were the first time we've done it."

Well, not to sound like a cliche, but some of these things ARE like new to me. I haven't had alcohol (sigh) or walked more than 40 minutes in 3.5 years. I haven't exercised or traveled outside the country or been to a concert (because of the noise) or been able to handle a baseball game or parties in 3 years! Walking fifteen minutes and getting groceries and feeling happy and able to handle noise in a restaurant and just enjoy a few hours with friends is a HUGE deal for me! Going to a Halloween party is a big deal! I pushed myself a bit, but I did it.

Nobody knows how I feel inside, as I have become a master actress at hiding my symptoms and just letting myself believe I am completely healthy. Why think I am sick? NO need. No sympathy wanted. I don't want to be pitied.

I cannot describe in words the immense happiness that literally radiates from my bones like the blinding sun on these days. These days are far and few between but they come. God, getting groceries and going to the park and taking a nap as a GOOD day - that's such a far cry from a full time attorney, athlete, friend, aunt, with a social life and all the community activities I was involved with. How can I think I will jump to that life anytime soon? I don't know - I don't worry how I'm going to get from point A to point B anymore. That's a lie, I mean I don't worry about it today and yesterday. I just have to BELIEVE it will happen.

Nothing special has happened. There weren't any amazing circumstances; it was just happiness from WITHIN. And you know, I don't know that I really ever knew that before I got sick (or appreciated it if I did feel it). My happiness depended on SO many other people, events, circumstances. I have finally learned to let go of those circumstances.

Before the last few days, I felt like I was hibernating in brown filthy mud underwater, nearly suffocating, drowning, couldn't tell my tears from the water around me and gasping for breath to feel like me. I hated life. The drugs torture your body and mind so much that you think you will NEVER be ok again. And then one day, you wake up, play some good music (MUSIC! I stopped listening to music for 3 years bc the noise was too hard on my ears), pry through that water and spread your petals and you flourish, as a beautiful happy lotus flower on land again. Land of the real people, not the underground of darkness that feels like you can never get out.

WHY did I feel good the last few days? The treatment - the IV meds - remember it's a rollercoaster. I cannot give you a formula. Today, I feel NOT so nice. But I am still happy because now my body and mind REMEMBER what it felt like to be ME. ME - SHE is under there. No matter how many months, years I spent under the brown muddy water, I can and will rise up, and one day I will be above ground FOREVER.

I write this for you, my friends, because I know how happy it is for you to see make progress. I also write it to myself, to remind myself on dark days of IV infusions that are rocking my body like a boat, that I am me underneath it all, and that I will continue to come out from the muddy water. The Lotus Flower does it. It is Mother Nature's way. So it will be!

Sidenote: why didn't anyone tell me on Halloween that those 'bee antennae' were hideous?!


  1. my little lotus i enjoyed this post! you are pure magic.....i think you should have been a firefly instead of a bee for Halloweenie...cause u are lighting the way for so many....sick and healthy alike. i'm not sure what is more gorgeous...your face or your words. hope u realize what a gift you have when you are typing away on that keyboard. hope to see a book penned by mona w. on the shelves of barnes & noble one of these days...really, seriously, truly. hope to see u in the near future. have i told u lately you're my hero? luv u more than you know cindy~ the artsy chick:)

  2. Mona, your post made me cry. Glad u r happy :)

  3. Both of you have been amazing contributors to my journey and realizing that happiness IS possible even in the 'worst' of circumstances..thank you.