On a fateful Sunday morning in 1992, I was distracted by a soiled area on my bathroom floor and decided to clean it before stepping into the shower. Gathering my cleaning supplies, which were housed in the cabinet beneath the sink, I lowered to my hands and knees, and as I reached forward to swipe the dirty spot, I lost my balance. As my backside was on its inexorable course to making full contact with the hard tile floor, my tailbone struck the raised heel of my right foot. Fire exploded in my backside. I grabbed the edge of the bathtub to steady my reeling brain that was threatening to go black from the pain, and then all I could do was to lower to the floor, contract into a fetal position and lie on the cold tile until the throbbing lessened enough to pull myself to the toilet. Once seated, I noticed that the designated heel was covered with blood. At first, I thought that it was a gash in my foot, but further investigation revealed a different source. I was aghast to find that the blood had come from my backside.
Discomfort in my tailbone was familiar to me. Actually, I had broken it thirty-three years earlier. In preparation for a Saturday night date, I was soaking in the bathtub, aromatic bubbles up to my neck and my skin drinking in the generous dollops of bath oil I had added to the water. The telephone rang. This was long before cellphones. Concerned that it might be my boyfriend calling me for some urgent reason, I jumped out of the bathtub, and proceeded at a quick pace to get to the nearest phone. Both of my oily feet slipped out from under me on the bare tile of the floor, and I came down with my full weight on my backside and broke my tailbone, an injury that was a source of chronic pain for the ensuing five years.
For a couple of months prior to the second incident in the bathroom, I had been experiencing some discomfort in my tailbone again, and, of course, I dismissed it as just a recurrence of the old injury. I had decided that having it looked at could wait until my yearly gynecological exam, several months hence. But the pain grew worse, the blood didn’t go away and I had begun to experience bouts of severe diarrhea. Subsequent to several examinations and tests, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, and for the next five years, it was treated as such.
All of the treatments were useless, and after second opinions, third opinions, fourth opinions, and copious other tests, it was decided that it was, in fact, Crohns Disease instead, a diagnosis confirmed by one of the foremost Colitis/Crohns specialists in the world, a doctor whose practice is at the Cleveland Clinic. In the interim, steroids were my steady diet—it was the only thing that somewhat reduced the flares of the almost constant diarrhea.
Three years more and additional treatments were the result, including ineffectual infusions of Remicade, as well as chemotherapy medications. As my body blew up to almost twice its former size from the steroids, and I grew weaker from the diarrhea, and I fought constant anemia from the bleeding, my life diminished concurrently. It was as if my former life as a socially active and successful interior designer and artist was petering out slowly. My life had reduced to a well-worn path in the carpeting between my bed and my bathroom. Not even sleep was my savior because I was up half of the night, every night, in the race to the bathroom, races that I didn’t always win.
As I reach back into my memory, the only term that comes to mind germane to my emotional state is “emptiness.” I guess it stands to reason that when a person is dealing with such overwhelming physical difficulties that the mind switches its resources to the body and away from the mind. But I have another, more philosophical, explanation of my mind’s emptiness. I believe that Spirit was erasing my mind like a master teacher erasing a blackboard in preparation for a new script for me to follow.
That script turned into a full-bodied screenplay in my mind the morning of August 10, 2000, a morning after a very bad night and another interminable day of bathroom trips and barrenness before me. That morning, I went to the bathroom (what is it with me and bathrooms?), got into the shower, and while standing under the spray, the story of my first book, Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams flowed over me as if the words were contained within the molecules of the water. I returned to my bed with notebook and pen in hand, and started to write. For the following four years, the book was the center, as well as the liberator, of my life. I recruited my cousin, Debra Shiveley Welch to work on a portion of the book with me. To that point, we had been mere dabblers at writing, and taking on a book was a new experience for both of us. To our delight, it was an Amazon best-seller upon its release.
The irony of the entire affair is that if I hadn’t been sick and living as a shut-in, I wouldn’t have had the time, or the inclination, to write. In this way, my illness was advantageous to my new work. I believe that Spirit arranged all of it to get me out of my own way and onto the path for which my time on Earth was intended all along. I accept as my truth that Spirit grabbed hold of me by my tailbone and literally pushed me to my knees to make me wake up to my real life. Although major surgery in 2001 restored my quality of life, I have never regained my full vitality, which means that I have to keep a lighter work schedule as an interior designer, a favorable turn of events that not only gives me plenty of time to write, but also to do artwork. As this holiday season approaches, I feel deep gratitude for the trials in my life because I believe that all of them happened for a reason, a reason that culminated in my finding independent authenticity, meaningful purpose and dignity of a kind that would have eluded me otherwise. I also have a profound feeling now that I am fulfilling my destiny.
Spanning this holiday season when we are reminded that a major part of its reason is to count our blessings, three of my good friends, who are fellow writers, have accepted my invitation to tell you their gratitude stories on this blog. Like me, all of them experienced illnesses that sculpted new and wonderful lives for them. I hope you will visit me again next week to discover the moving story of Vancouver author, Karen Magill.
My latest novel, Guardians and Other Angels is available in paperback and eBook for Kindle, or your PC and laptop, and other downloading devices at http://www.amazon.com/Guardians-Other-Angels-Linda-Greene/dp/1897512562/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338336762&sr=8-1. The book is available in paperback at barnes&noble.com.Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams in paperback and eBook is at http://www.amazon.com/Linda-Lee-Greene/e/B00864OVWA. The paperback version is also sold on barnes&noble.com.
To read excerpts of my current and future books, please log onto www.booksbylindaleegreene.gallery-llgreene.com.
To view an exhibition of some of my artwork, I invite you to log onto www.gallery-llgreene.com.