12 June 2008

this unnatural fog {part 1}

I've been trying to come up with a way of describing what the past few months have been like. In a previous post, I mentioned some of the medical issues I was having; without regurgitating details from my ever-thickening medical files, suffice it to say I've had a number of issues to contend with. Or as my doctor told me at my last visit: you've exchanged one melodrama for another.

Or a few others, rather.

Unless you've spoken with me on the phone, you may not have noticed much of a difference. Or maybe you have. I did my best to maintain a presence here, even when it was the last thing I wanted to do. It wasn't so much out of a sense of obligation as it was out of a desire to maintain some semblance of connectedness, to keep my head above the surface when I felt pulled under.

Over the last several months, I've felt a slow descent into what I can only describe as a terrible fog. At first, I was just a little more tired than normal. Less energetic.

About three or four weeks ago, the descent sharpened and picked up speed. I became forgetful, my head cloudy. It required all the abilities of concentration I possessed to maintain my focus visually. My limbs and my body felt unbearably heavy; every movement was laborious. Getting out of bed seemed especially impossible. Unless I paid particular attention to it, my speech became slurred and slow; even my jaw and my tongue felt too heavy to move. I spent all my waking hours in a stupor, feeling as though I was heavily drugged. It didn't matter how long or how deeply I slept. Every day felt the same, my state of being residing in an odd place where feelings of inebriation and profound exhaustion intersected.

I watched my calendar fill with more and more medical appointments: follow-ups, ultrasounds, blood tests. I held carbon copies of lab slips and sat opposite white walls on which clocks ticked away the seconds, oddly colorful gifts of pharmaceutical companies eager to sell little pills with impossible names. I can still see the little holes trailing above a river on indigo on my arm.

For the most part, I stopped caring about everything. I didn't care that I wasn't exercising, that I wasn't blogging (or writing anything for that matter), that I wasn't taking pictures, that any food I prepared all tasted the same -- the things that once mattered so much to me were gone. I learned to fake it: to calculate and make up the distance between my fog and the self I remembered, but distantly.

My days passed and these things I remembered enjoying at one time sifted easily through my fingers like sand. I'd let my hand drop with a heavy thud at my side, not worrying about picking up those things I'd lost. I was just too tired to care, shrouded by a heavy cloak of apathy. Wanting anything seemed a distant possibility; the ability to do much but exist had ceased. Separated from desire and will, I found I wasn't left with much. I felt as though I had been hollowed out. I knew God was present, but in a very cerebral, distant memory kind of way. I wasn't sensing Him – or much of anything -- at all.

I had moments where I seemed to emerge from this, to rise above the surface: to get excited or angry about something, to want to work on a writing piece. Most of the time, these bursts of emotion and life manifested themselves as full and unrestrained tears. My defenses dissolved, I always returned to this place where I felt the throbbing pull at my ankles dragging me under toward numbness, weighing me down. It was a strong and steady undertow that I was too weak to resist.

I was empty. And even now I wonder if it's honest to write any of this in the past tense. But somewhere in the distance, I think the sun is coming up and that maybe it will burn the fog away; I want it to come up.

evening mist photo courtesy of freefoto.com

Please note: I understand there are many schools of thought when it comes to how to manage one's physical health. I kindly ask that you refrain from posting comments containing disagreement with choices made by me or by my physician. The purpose of these posts is to share my journey through the health challenges I face and to describe how I am choosing to pursue wellness in a manner consistent with my convictions and my own ability to assess what is best for my body.

Read part 2 here.


  1. I feel bereft of words. You've seemed...present but dull...not like "boring," but like the usual glittering sharpness that is Kirsten is not quite there...and now I see why.

    I'm so sorry you have to walk this path. Doctors and tests and visits take so much out of a person...and they're so distracting to everything else that's going on in life. I hurt for you, hurting and exhausted and frustrated as you are...I wish I could be with you now.

    I hope you're getting the care you need, that all the tests came up with something and they can help you. Because...yuck. I'm reminded of that fact that our bodies are not just something we have, but something we are, and when the body is hurting, WE are hurting.

    Love to you. See you soon.

  2. i'm so sorry, friend. i have been out of pocket this entire week, contending with my own energy crisis, and i haven't been present in this world with you. this post made me ache. i felt myself pulled into your skin by all the descriptions and found myself feeling . . . tired, slow, devoid of feeling, numb. all of that wondering what was going on and where God was . . . i thought it, but felt it distantly. you've shared enough here to give us all quite a fair grasp of how it has been to be kirsten these days. and for all these ways of being lately, and for all my own absence from your world these days, all i can say is i'm sorry. my 'love you' seems weak, offered as it is from my own weak heart right now, but it's as true as it's ever been, and even more. love you . . .

  3. My dearest Kirsten,

    No words can really do justice, but I truly can empathize. I have not shared about it on my blog, but I am beginning to climb a rather steep health hill myself, the culmination will be with the surgeon removing part of my skull...not fun.

    I know the pain, the ache, the not wanting to get up. The diziness and the loniness you can feel in the midst. Remember though, you are not alone.

    When one is in a fog, they only must shout to be found. Visually you may not be walking, but by sound you can still be heard, and people can find you, and they can guide you into safe harbor.

    Shout out to me if you wish. I pray for you daily, and will pray with you if you would like, it would be my honor. But know, just know at the core of who you are, that there are people here, people in your church, people in your family and social circle saying "this is the way, now walk in it" just use that last bit of energy to turn your ears up and hear them calling you, directing you, and loving you in the deepest and darkest places.

    You bless me with this blog, and bless me with sharing here. As J Vernon McGee would always sign of saying "May God richly bless you my beloved."

  4. i am truly sorry that you are suffering.

    i think that it is ok to write about it here and maybe even good.

    so that you can rest in Jesus
    so that we can pray for you
    so that we can be with you in all that you go through, not just the up and good parts.

    i know this is not an easy place to be in, and just to say again what you already know...God is with you even though you do not feel Him the way you have in the past, He will make His presence known to you again, in a new way.

  5. Kirsten,

    I will be praying for you. I am so sorry that, as of yet, you have been unable to get answers. I am sure that is very frustrating, adding a mental cloud to the physical fog. Our bodies are a cursed blessing. . . praise be to God that one day we will be whole and perfectly well, just as He intended it to be.

  6. sarah - thank you for your kindness to me in this space. "dull" is another good word to add to the list of adjectives to describe what walking through this space is like. sometimes i feel like a mere cardboard-cutout version of myself: flat & unresponsive.

    i've got a stellar naturopath who is leading me towards improved health, thank God!! and you're right ... bodies are something we ARE, not just the "empty shell" so many people like to pretend.

    i get to see you soon!! and that makes me happy. ;o)

    christianne - i am so sorry to hear, friend that you're in the midst of your own fog, contending with your own energy crisis. i know your love is palpable and real, even when you are not actively expressing it. i do not forget it & i know it is there.

    carl - removing part of your skull?! that is NUTS!! i will keep you & amy in prayer as your family faces this together.

    sometimes i just feel like collapsing & like i can't call out for help. even my mouth & my fingers feel leaden at times. but this is my shout out, my way of saying: this is why i'm not fully present in the way i'd like to be.

    thank you for your prayers.

    nancy - thank you so much for your affirmation of God's presence. i trust that He can & will use this, that this may be used as part of His greater & glittering design.

    thank you.

    rebecca - thank you for your prayers. i think we are on our way toward some answers, toward a lightening, toward wellness again. thanks again.

  7. I have no words for you, which makes me feel helpless.
    But I know that God's our healer. Jesus touched and the dead rose, the lame walked, the blind saw. We may not see this fully today, but one day we will. I know that God is the comforter of the hurting. And I know that the Body of Christ is here for you because you are part of me and I'm part of you. As much as I can, I want to share your burden. I know that I can't literally take your pain, but I hurt for you and pray for you.

  8. A tear or two for you ... splash into a vast ocean of Love that already, ever cradles you. In your "cloud of unknowing" lethargy, lifelessness, maybe it comforts to know the compassionate Jesus stumbled around in the wilderness, too. Stomach and soul empty, parched, alone, tested, tired. He's with you in this....

  9. Your experience with a naturopath finally encouarged me to go and see one. I had an amazing visit, and I go back for the results on monday. I am sorry you are going through such a difficult time. Its interesting, because i have spent 3times with you over the past year, and you seemed so different at every one of them. The first, you were dating Mike, and trying to figure that all out. The next time was at your birthday, and it just seemed like you were in a really good spot. Finally, and most recently, at my birthday. I was so glad that you came all the way to seattle for my party, but I could tell that there was something going on. That sense that you were there physically, but not fully there in other ways. But now, as you put it in to words, I am beginning to see that being in a fog is definitely what I would describe it as. And it saddens me, because you have such a glittering personality that attracts people to you, and that you live intentionally and fully - something that I am often envious of.

    So know taht I am praying for you, and thinking about you. I'll let you know how my continuing work with the naturopath goes. So far, so good (although the b12 shot in the butt wasn't so fun).

    Love you my friend

  10. heather - i've never met you, but i feel like you just gave me a big hug with your words. they're warm & assure me that i'm seen and loved. and that means a great deal in this place.

    joelle - your response is drenched with compassion. i know Jesus knows what this place is like: he emptied himself of everything. if i have to be here, i'm glad to know he is with me.

    ilse - i was feeling that way at your birthday & i had a feeling that my altered, foggy personality was noticeable. i so wanted to be there for you & to celebrate with you & it hurt me not to be able to be as fully present as i would have liked.

    i'm glad to hear you went to see a naturopath ... & i'm glad mine doesn't give me shots in the butt!!(i got my B12 shot in my arm.) he is definitely pointing the way toward some answers & i am already starting to feel a lightening after just a week of an altered regimen. he's been so spot on with my health, it's amazing.

    thank you for your prayers & your love ... & i definitely look forward to hearing more about your visit with the naturopath!! ;o)

  11. Kirsten, my heart is heavy for you and I will stand beside you praying.

    I know this may be way off, but is it a possibility that there may be a Carbon monoxide leak someplace in your apartment, or a natural gas leak? May be worth investigating.

    With you.

  12. i'm here.
    i'm getting this, i think.
    i'm wishing i could wave it away for you (and me too).
    i'm trusting that this is somewhere you're walking through...that it won't be a permanent address.
    i'm admiring your persistence and strength.
    i'm waiting with you.

    much, much love...

  13. Kirsten, oh. Somehow, I feel this deep desire to offer a pillow, a clean blanket, a bit of broth, a shoulder, and more than a bowl full of prayers.

  14. 23 - scary about the flooding!! are you & your family alright??

    i hadn't thought of CO, but that is so good to be aware of!! what i do know (from rounds of testing) is that it's most definitely something internal; i'll be posting an update soon.

    thanks for your prayers & concern.

    terri - thanks. just ... thanks. i'm totally okay with an advance on that "new body" we've been hearing about ...

    l.l. - thank you. i would receive the blanket, the broth, the pillow all with love. and i would rest well.