I am sitting on the front step, bare feet planted firmly on the rough warmth of the block paving, storm Francis whipping my lockdown hair around my sun-warmed face and a corsage of runner beans sprouting incongruously from my pocket.

Five weeks after waking from optimistic near recovery to breathlessness and immobility, I have reached the dizzy heights of a gentle potter in the garden, some light dead-heading and picking of produce.  It would be so easy to launch myself back into old patterns of working until I have finished a job, but this set-back in my recovery has forced me to stop and be guided only by what my body will allow.  

My Granny’s advice to pick fruit and beans upside down, bum in the air, no longer serves.  Any bending over, a sudden movement, raising my arms just sets my head swimming.  So, I picked the beans cautiously, slowly brushing the leaves aside from above.  A trip to the kitchen seemed an journey too far so I popped them in my pocket and forgot about them.  Now I must look like a lunatic, hair in a stormy puff around my head, vegetables on my chest, bare feet, picking tufts of grass from between the paving. I don’t care, even as a neighbour jogs by, skittered along by the gusts of wind and a small dog.  I am happy and right now that is all that matters.

It’s hard to see fibromyalgia as a gift and this apparent reversal of months of progress is even harder to swallow, but I can see how important this experience is to my full recovery.  It is a timely reminder not to get too cocky, not to slide back into old habits. It has highlighted my continuing fragility in the face of infection, refocused my GP’s attention on an ongoing problem with a pulse and sluggish system.  It has opened new avenues to explore in developing my understanding of what has happened to my body and why.  It has given me the time, clues and incentive to learn more about the miracle that is my normal human body and to develop my user’s manual. I now know what and who triggers my palpitations and why. I also know that a little pottering in the garden every day clears my head and strengthens my system in ways that pottering in the kitchen could never do.

So here I am, listening to my body, grounded in the earth beneath my bare feet, invigorated and lifted by the wind in my hair, pulling a few weeds and then just stopping to feel the world around me, of which I am a part.  Deep breathing comes naturally in such a warm, scented wind. There is nowhere quite like a garden for healing the body and soul.

Have you experienced the disappointment of a  setback in your recovery?  Finding someone to talk to who's been there and can reassure you that it's not the end of the world is so important to keeping hope alive.  You are not alone and complete recovery is a totally realistic goal.  Have a look at some of the testimonials on The Chrysalis Effect website.