The past few months have been a journey. It began with my first visit to France at the end of the summer, and ended with the terror attacks in Paris a couple weeks ago. Physically incapacitated, I’ve certainly had a lot of time to mull it all over.
I visited the south of France with my fiance and my best friend in late summer. We stayed near Cannes with a gracious friend whose home was warm and inviting; the countryside was deliriously beautiful and full of natural charm. We stayed only a few days before catching a train to Paris, but not before…
I was bitten on the back of my ankle in the woods by some kind of arachnid, or so I thought. It was a horrible bite, a huge mound of pus and blood, with a large irregular rash all around it. In the center, like an angry volcano, rose a black mass, like a scab but darker. I couldn’t get a good look at it myself, and my traveling companions were understandably grossed out. They promised to take me to a pharmacy once we got to the capital.
In Paris I was soon distracted by the culture and the vibe. My entire foot was swollen at this point, but who cared? I was in PARIS! We toured the Louvre, strolled the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, and sketched along the river Seine (see drawing above).
And that is how I like to remember Paris: Gorgeous, full of life, art & joy. An escape from the banal stresses of NYC.
But when I returned home to the States, I was here barely a week before things weren’t quite right with me. It started with body aches and a fever, which soon rose to nearly 104 degrees, and persisted for 3 weeks. And for the weeks and months that followed, I was on bed rest 80% of the time, with everything from a stiff neck so bad I could neither lie down nor sit up, vision problems, severe migrating arthritis to the point where I couldn’t walk or even hold a pencil; to bronchitis and laryngitis, rendering me mute. My sister had to come and live with us for over a month, as I could no longer take care of myself, and out of two plus months, I was well enough to work for only 3 days. A normally healthy person, I’d never been so sick in my life, and never for so long. As you can imagine, I was fairly freaked out.
Finally, a few weeks ago, I was still ill, but well enough to start catching up on correspondence and make more regular visits to the specialists who have been working on my medical case. The consensus seems to be that it is Lyme Disease; however since I was bitten in Europe, the bacteria can’t be detected with US lab test; apparently they are completely different strains. I was advised to return to France to get screened with the proper tests, and was seriously considering it until…
The terror attacks.
I don’t have words to describe the sorrow and outrage I feel at what was done to our sister nation across the Atlantic. Paris had seemed like this inviolable oasis of beauty and gaiety. Picnics with wine and cheese along the river’s edge; dance parties all night long; and art galleries back to back along the main drag, so numerous you could never visit them all in one trip. How could they do this to Paris? How could they murder all of those wonderful people in cold blood, in the City of Light of all places?
My heart goes out to all who suffered losses that night. As a New Yorker, I know all too well the fear and the anxiety, the heartbreaking insanity of it all. I just never thought it would happen in Paris. I had wanted to move there eventually; to get away from the danger I perceived as pervading my hometown. Now I see, no city is safe. God rest all of the departed, and bless their families and loved ones. I’m so very, very sorry.
So what’s the point of my writing all of this?
Well, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I have to admit, I’d been feeling rather sorry for myself lately. Up until recently I couldn’t work, speak or hold a pencil. I still have no diagnosis and thus likely have weeks more ahead filled with specialists and tests, and no telling what new symptoms might arise. Some days are good healthwise, and other days…not so much.
But you know what? I’m ALIVE. And when over a hundred innocent people in the city I just visited and love so much can no longer say that, I realize I have so much to be grateful for. I don’t know if I’ll regain full use of my hands, or if this is some kind of undiagnosed autoimmune disease, similar to Lupus, that will stay with me until my last breath, but at least I can breathe! That’s a gift!!
So even if I might have to learn new ways to follow my dreams, I’m grateful this Thanksgiving. In the end, every day is a blessing, and I feel blessed to make it another day.
Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Sending love <3, God bless.