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Studying to be the Tortoise, Not the Hare

I’ve acquired many very comparable emails and DMs throughout the previous couple of days.

“Jodi…?” the messages begin out. “I don’t need to trouble you but it surely has been a very long time because you posted, and I’m actually beginning to fear.”

“Jodi: blink twice in case you’re okay?”

“Jodi, here’s a llama strolling into an optometrist’s workplace in France. I considered you! Additionally, ARE YOU OK?”

In a world of quick access to individuals’s inboxes, readers have solely been a pleasure, a digital cloud of heat and by no means a burden. And when so a lot of you ping directly, I do know I’m due for an replace. On this sluggish bedrest state, life appears like a woozy Groundhog Day. I really like the filaments that join me to so a lot of you, reminding me to not lose observe of time totally. I’m so humbled by your care.


Once I was a child, my mom mentioned my first phrase was – as anticipated – a phrase. As a substitute of constant alongside these traces, apparently the following factor I mentioned was a sentence: “see automotive go by.”

“After which,” my household jokes, “she by no means stopped speaking!”

Being perplexed isn’t an issue I usually have. However sure, I’ve been very lax at updating as a result of it’s been exhausting to seek out phrases for what I’m feeling.

A Leaky Anniversary

January 26 was the one 12 months anniversary of the patch that sealed me final 12 months. I had a extremely tough and heart-wrenching time reckoning with the place I’m on this anniversary. As a substitute of scaffolding off the sluggish and arduous restoration that adopted the anaphylaxis and process, I’m in mattress.

Once more.

For a lot of months.

When you’re simply tuning in, the CSF leak that sealed up and was therapeutic reopened as a result of I sat on the bottom. Gingerly. Not even enthusiastically. I went from 4-5km walks a day, to no strolling in report time.

At first, I used to be in excessive denial that one thing so small, so inhibited may blow out the scar tissue that had months to type. However one after the other, every symptom I had in 2017 got here again. I preserve detailed each day logs of each symptom, complement or remedy, and meals. I couldn’t deny what I used to be experiencing.

Then, the grief. The anger. The deep unhappiness, the sort that suffocates all hope.

We study in regards to the “levels of grief” in in style tradition, however what occurs once they simply cycle again and again? Whenever you suppose you’ve come out the opposite aspect and may breathe once more, once you tilt your face up at a brighter-than-you-remembered solar, solely to seek out that you simply’re again in the dead of night?


My physique, once I releaked, was in much better form than the preliminary leak in 2017. Labs final summer season confirmed enhancements and decrease inflammatory markers. I attempted to remain constructive. My family and friends came around. My inbox overflowed with llama pictures.

As fall turned to winter, I noticed some fantastic enhancements. I finished having the “mind sag” of my mind smushing into my backbone resulting from low stress. I moved into “excessive stress” once more, which is often a symptom of the leak beginning to seal over — the additional CSF produced whereas leaking backs up in opposition to the opening now tentatively closed. I began on the meds to decrease intracranial stress to stop the delicate seal from bursting resulting from stress. I felt cautiously optimistic.

After which a couple of weeks later in mid-December, I had an terrible nightmare in my sleep. I bear in mind it completely. And I additionally bear in mind what woke me up: the excruciating ache in my again.

After an epidural blood patch to seal a CSF leak, the discharge directions be aware that there’s to be no bending, lifting, or twisting for a lot of weeks, but in addition that coughing or sneezing can blow out the patch resulting from intrathecal stress. Many fellow leakers have blown out their patches — a clot or glue protecting the leak briefly whereas your personal physique can heal with scar tissue beneath — from constipation (pushing), sneezing, coughing, laughing.

Droop your humanness whilst you can, the unsaid directions whisper. Don’t do something that may compromise this seal.

In my case, this nightmare I had blew out the seal and I used to be again to sq. one.

The Curler-Coaster of Ups and Downs

It’s troublesome for me to specific the crazy-making nature of this situation.

In lots of instances, there isn’t a imaging obtainable that’s delicate sufficient to point out a leak. Misdiagnoses are frequent. Imaging equivalent to MRIs or extra invasive testing like a CT-myelography flip up regular in an alarming proportion of instances. And regular imaging, the leak specialists have discovered, doesn’t exclude a leak.

So one of the best ways to know if you’re leaking is through your signs or your story. In my case: I had none of those signs previous to a lumbar puncture, and haven’t been purposeful since. However the problem of exterior corroboration and testing solely exacerbates nervousness about what might or will not be taking place in your physique. It’s a very powerful, very exhausting dance to undertake. I’ve struggled essentially the most with this stability of trying to remain in contact with my physique whereas additionally uncurling my clenched arms from the eventual final result. Science tells us that focusing advert nauseum on our ache can enlarge it in our minds, therefore the usefulness of mindfulness and different meditation.

When your situation requires a deal with ache, and also you additionally know you want to keep equanimous to heal successfully? That may be a whole mindfuck.


In mid-December, a detailed member of the family took a flip for the very worse. The funeral was round Christmas. I used to be too unwell to attend. Mixed with the Re-Re-leak, I spiralled fairly solidly into a really bleak place.

If I’ve discovered something on this insanity, it’s that staying within the black gap of despair isn’t the way you heal. With the crutches of visits and calls from shut associates, somebody to speak with who makes a speciality of grief, and the instruments I’ve drawn on on the worst of occasions, I used to be capable of wrench myself to a greater place.

However nonetheless, I’m not sealed and healed.


I delay Duke once I re-leaked due to what occurred over the last spherical of patching. There’s a lesson about nervousness in that process too: in my most artistic of nightmares, I by no means imagined anaphylaxis as a part of what may go mistaken.

However it did, and whereas they won’t use fibrin glue once more (suspecting that was the trigger for anaphylaxis), I’ve written about how my physique appears to be caught in that very reactive, anaphylax-y place. My mast cells degranulated everywhere and LOVED it. They appear to take pleasure in doing so repeatedly since, not solely to meals but in addition smells – and even scorching showers.

Given how pear-shaped issues went final time, I needed to offer my physique an extended likelihood to seal earlier than committing to a different process. Once I did seemingly seal up in November, I used to be so thrilled. It didn’t (and doesn’t) matter to me if it takes a very long time, although my mother and father have the persistence of saints. If sluggish and regular was the best way, I used to be comfortable with that so long as I sealed up.

I can be trustworthy: my turbulent December and January have examined the bounds of my capability for grace and persistence and hope. I’ve been on bedrest for fairly a couple of months. Whereas I’m not bored, the ache ranges are fairly unconscionable and conserving my spirit up has been a mighty problem.

From my very own calculus: if I do want to return to Duke, I need to know I gave my physique a full shot.

That manner, if – IF – issues go awry once more throughout a process, I gained’t have the ability to look again and say, “ought to have given it a bit extra time.”


So the place are we now? It’s February, and long run readers know this implies my favorite vacation on the planet: Vietnamese lunar new 12 months or Tet. An incredible reader named Wendy simply despatched me a pic of lamp in my title from her household’s temple in Malaysia, a New 12 months want of well being and prosperity. Lunar new 12 months was all the time a time for reflection and cleansing and cleaning throughout my time in Asia. I’ve stored that spirit throughout my return to Mexico and Canada with small celebrations to welcome the following calendar.

New 12 months begins in a couple of days, and with it I hope a greater local weather for therapeutic.

I’ve seen such progress because the re-leak, progress I didn’t see when first in mattress in 2017. I preserve flipping into excessive stress because it begins to seal, then unsealing. It could be that I would like intervention in any case, however I nonetheless have hope that the JodiDura-that-could comes via this winter. I’m consuming a strict and nutritious diet, meditating, visualizing, constantly working to convey my thoughts into a greater area.

If I can’t seal in the course of the winter, it definitely gained’t be as a result of I didn’t strive.

Studying to be the Tortoise

There as soon as was a speedy hare who bragged about how briskly he may run. Bored with listening to him boast, Sluggish and Regular, the tortoise, challenged him to a race. All of the animals within the forest gathered to look at. Hare ran down the highway for some time after which and paused to relaxation. He regarded again at Sluggish and Regular and cried out, “How do you anticipate to win this race when you’re strolling alongside at your sluggish, sluggish tempo?” Hare stretched himself out alongside the highway and fell asleep, pondering, “There may be loads of time to chill out.” Sluggish and Regular walked and walked. He by no means, ever stopped till he got here to the end line. The animals who had been watching cheered so loudly for Tortoise, they awoke Hare. Hare stretched and yawned and commenced to run once more, but it surely was too late. Tortoise was over the road. After that, Hare all the time reminded himself, “Don’t brag about your lightning tempo, for Sluggish and Regular gained the race!”

The ethical lesson of the Aesop’s “Tortoise and the Hare” fable is that generally you could be extra profitable by doing issues slowly and steadily than by rash motion. The race (of life) isn’t essentially gained by the quickest or strongest animal, however by those that persist within the face of obstacles – together with the impediment of time.

I undertook my life within the cussed spirit of the hare.

I went to regulation college straight from grade 13 (CEGEP, in Quebec) as a result of somebody guess me I couldn’t get in. I took a job in NYC as a result of on my first day of regulation college, somebody mentioned, “you don’t should be right here. Return to highschool the place you belong. And don’t trouble getting a job in New York Metropolis – you’ll by no means succeed.” Once I give up my regulation job, it wasn’t for a two month journey, it was for an open jaw journey to Siberia that unfurled right into a wonderful and food-filled new profession.

My id for years was the lawyer who give up her job to eat soup. As I’ve laid in mattress on and off since 2017, I’ve watched the journey business and my fellow writers transfer on with their lives. Mine feels very caught. I’m very unused to not with the ability to clear up issues by DOING, and it’s a monumental shift in my mindset. Above and past the leak, my well being would require a unique manner of approaching work.

Apparently it’s time to be the tortoise.

csf leak be the tortoise not the hare
Tortoise pic from one of many first adventures in my round-the-world journey: the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador

I’m nonetheless feeling across the edges of what meaning for me. Sealing and therapeutic would require me to vary so much about how I method work and achievement, as a result of extreme doing is a surefire method to undo my progress. There’s so much right here I hope to put in writing about sooner or later, about studying to get below your thoughts and into your coronary heart.

About listening to your physique earlier than it’s too late.

About not essentially taking each guess that comes your manner as a life problem.

For now, although, I don’t know what I’ll redefine life “as.” I belief that it’s going to unfold in its personal manner. Whereas mourning the life I had, I additionally really feel interested by what comes subsequent.

However first: this leak in my backbone must be firmly sealed for me to get strolling once more.


Thanks all as all the time for the caring notes, the questions, and the overwhelming assist and love. I’m terribly fortunate to have such a strong military of cheerleaders around the globe.

A lot of you might have devoted your meditation practices to my well being, and for that I’m grateful. I do plan to restart the group meditations subsequent week, on Sunday February tenth. If you’re serious about becoming a member of, the primary 7 weeks are right here, and you may take pleasure in any of the meditations because the tracks are all on that submit.

I’ve been meditating alone right here, however with all that unfolded I couldn’t handle the group ones in the course of the holidays. I recognize what number of emails I’ve acquired asking once they’ll restart, and I’m so glad a lot of you discover them useful and a supply of sunshine.

I haven’t written publicly in a very long time, however typing this submit out with my thumbs felt excellent. I missed it. And although I might nonetheless be writing if nobody was studying, I’m glad to undergo this very powerful journey with a neighborhood such as you to assist make issues higher alongside the best way.


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