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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 hassle you but it surely has been a very long time because you posted, and I’m actually beginning to fear.”

“Jodi: blink twice in the event 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 easy accessibility to folks’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 gradual 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 monitor of time solely. I’m so humbled by your care.


Once I was a child, my mom stated my first phrase was – as anticipated – a phrase. As an alternative of constant alongside these strains, apparently the subsequent factor I stated was a sentence: “see automobile go by.”

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

Being confused is just not an issue I usually have. However sure, I’ve been very lax at updating as a result of it’s been onerous 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 very tough and heart-wrenching time reckoning with the place I’m on this anniversary. As an alternative of scaffolding off the gradual and arduous restoration that adopted the anaphylaxis and process, I’m in mattress.

Once more.

For a lot of months.

In the event 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 every day logs of each symptom, complement or treatment, and meals. I couldn’t deny what I used to be experiencing.

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

We be taught in regards to the “phases of grief” in well-liked tradition, however what occurs after they simply cycle again and again? Whenever you assume you’ve come out the opposite aspect and might breathe once more, while you tilt your face up at a brighter-than-you-remembered solar, solely to seek out that you simply’re again at midnight?


My physique, after 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 optimistic. My family and friends came visiting. 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 because of low strain. I moved into “excessive strain” once more, which is normally a symptom of the leak beginning to seal over — the additional CSF produced whereas leaking backs up towards the opening now tentatively closed. I began on the meds to decrease intracranial strain to forestall the delicate seal from bursting because of strain. I felt cautiously optimistic.

After which just a few weeks later in mid-December, I had an terrible nightmare in my sleep. I keep in mind it completely. And I additionally keep 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 notice 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 because of intrathecal strain. Many fellow leakers have blown out their patches — a clot or glue masking the leak quickly whereas your personal physique can heal with scar tissue beneath — from constipation (pushing), sneezing, coughing, laughing.

Droop your humanness when 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 tough for me to precise the crazy-making nature of this situation.

In lots of circumstances, there isn’t a imaging out there that’s delicate sufficient to indicate a leak. Misdiagnoses are widespread. Imaging reminiscent of MRIs or extra invasive testing like a CT-myelography flip up regular in an alarming share of circumstances. And regular imaging, the leak specialists have realized, doesn’t exclude a leak.

So one of the simplest 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 practical since. However the problem of exterior corroboration and testing solely exacerbates anxiousness about what might or might not be taking place in your physique. It’s a very robust, very exhausting dance to undertake. I’ve struggled probably the most with this steadiness of making an attempt to remain in contact with my physique whereas additionally uncurling my clenched fingers from the eventual consequence. 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 concentrate on ache, and also you additionally know it’s good 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 realized something on this insanity, it’s that staying within the black gap of despair is just not the way you heal. With the crutches of visits and calls from shut mates, somebody to speak with who focuses on grief, and the instruments I’ve drawn on on the worst of occasions, I used to be in a position to wrench myself to a greater place.

However nonetheless, I’m not sealed and healed.


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

But it surely 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 all over 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 wished to present 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 dad and mom have the endurance of saints. If gradual and regular was the way in which, I used to be comfortable with that so long as I sealed up.

I will probably be trustworthy: my turbulent December and January have examined the bounds of my capability for grace and endurance and hope. I’ve been on bedrest for fairly just a few months. Whereas I’m not bored, the ache ranges are fairly unconscionable and maintaining 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 received’t be capable 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 earth: Vietnamese lunar new 12 months or Tet. A tremendous reader named Wendy simply despatched me a pic of lamp in my title from her household’s temple in Malaysia, a New Yr 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 subsequent calendar.

New Yr begins in just a few 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 strain because it begins to seal, then unsealing. It could be that I want intervention in any case, however I nonetheless have hope that the JodiDura-that-could comes by this winter. I’m consuming a strict and nutritious diet, meditating, visualizing, persistently working to convey my thoughts into a greater area.

If I can’t seal in the course of the winter, it actually received’t be as a result of I didn’t attempt.

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, Gradual and Regular, the tortoise, challenged him to a race. All of the animals within the forest gathered to observe. Hare ran down the street for some time after which and paused to relaxation. He seemed again at Gradual and Regular and cried out, “How do you count on to win this race if you find yourself strolling alongside at your gradual, gradual tempo?” Hare stretched himself out alongside the street and fell asleep, pondering, “There’s loads of time to chill out.” Gradual 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 wakened 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 Gradual and Regular received the race!”

The ethical lesson of the Aesop’s “Tortoise and the Hare” fable is that typically you will be extra profitable by doing issues slowly and steadily than by rash motion. The race (of life) isn’t essentially received 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 wager me I couldn’t get in. I took a job in NYC as a result of on my first day of regulation college, somebody stated, “you don’t need to be right here. Return to highschool the place you belong. And don’t hassle 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 superb and food-filled new profession.

My identification 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 having 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 which means for me. Sealing and therapeutic would require me to vary rather a lot about how I method work and achievement, as a result of extreme doing is a surefire method to undo my progress. There’s rather a lot right here I hope to jot down 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 wager 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’ll unfold in its personal manner. Whereas mourning the life I had, I additionally really feel inquisitive about 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 help and love. I’m terribly fortunate to have such a strong military of cheerleaders around the globe.

Lots of you’ve 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 thinking about becoming a member of, the primary 7 weeks are right here, and you’ll 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 respect what number of emails I’ve acquired asking after 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’d nonetheless be writing if nobody was studying, I’m glad to undergo this very robust journey with a group such as you to assist make issues higher alongside the way in which.


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