I have been incredibly ill for the past three weeks. Over this time I have endured an ER visit, two surgeries (and another coming in a week), numerous doctors visits, and a litany of blood work. I am exhausted from my body making attempts to heal itself. I am groggy from the medicines designed to make me forget that I am in pain. I am frustrated that I have been relegated to near constant bed rest. I am anxious to find out what exactly is wrong with me, and why my body is rebelling against itself and the physicians trying to fix me. But in spite of all of this, I am grateful that the universe is proving to me that being alone can be a blessing.
The weeks spent in a sterile hospital room gave me plenty of time to reflect. I am thankful for the beautiful souls known as my friends, who are key parts of what I consider to be my family. I am appreciative that a friend from Seattle had my favorite flowers delivered, bringing a little joy to my room; I am grateful for artisan chocolate sent by a sweet soul from the Midwest that I met while visiting Ecuador; I am touched that a friend jumped on a plane and travelled nearly 700 miles just to be by my side, forcing a smile through my valium drip; and my heart fills with so much love to read emails and text messages wishing me well from literally all over the world. As if this is not enough, I am indebted to a medical team that is both competent and compassionate, appreciative of nurses who cared for me as if I were their daughter, and dieticians that snuck me extra juice boxes.
As I wait at home for yet another surgery, more pokes, and one more prescription, I am focusing my energy to gain the most out of this experience with respect to personal growth. I find myself being bothered less and less by what I once perceived as slights against me; I visualize the things I want to do once I am healthy and back to myself; and I hope to always remember health is a precious gift not to be taken for granted as it can be taken or broken at any time by no fault of your own. I am enjoying the ability to take short walks outside, without cords, tubes, and monitors, the assistance of nurses, and time restrictions set by hospital administrators. When I tire of walking - which happens way faster than it should - I stop and sit and enjoy being present - the laughs of toddlers, smells from street food carts, and bustle of the city is all amplified due to the extended period of time I have spent alone over the past month. Today, I sat on my balcony writing this post, listening to Sufjan Steven's new album - Carrie and Lowell, appreciating air that is not tinged with cleansers and thinking of all the good things that will come from this experience, if I let it.
So, being alone does not mean one is lonely - it simply means that physically, time or space is not being shared with another person or thing. In a world filled with constant interaction and connectedness, I believe that solitude is beautiful and necessary - it makes you aware of life's microexpressions, how to read them, and how to respond. Despite being frustrated that I have been sick for so long, I am thankful that the universe made me stop and be present so that once I am well, I can be a little more awesome moving forward.