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 wish to trouble you nevertheless it has been a very long time because you posted, and I’m actually beginning to fear.”

“Jodi: blink twice for those who’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 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 without delay, 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 fully. I’m so humbled by your care.


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

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

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

A Leaky Anniversary

January 26 was the one yr anniversary of the patch that sealed me final yr. 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 might blow out the scar tissue that had months to kind. However one after the other, every symptom I had in 2017 got here again. I preserve detailed day by day logs of each symptom, complement or medicine, 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 be taught in regards to the “levels of grief” in fashionable tradition, however what occurs once they simply cycle time and again? Whenever you suppose you’ve come out the opposite aspect and might breathe once more, if you tilt your face up at a brighter-than-you-remembered solar, solely to search out that you just’re again in the dead of night?


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 around. My inbox overflowed with llama photographs.

As fall turned to winter, I noticed some fantastic enhancements. I finished having the “mind sag” of my mind smushing into my backbone attributable to 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 towards the opening now tentatively closed. I began on the meds to decrease intracranial stress to forestall the delicate seal from bursting attributable to stress. 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 observe that there’s to be no bending, lifting, or twisting for a lot of weeks, but additionally that coughing or sneezing can blow out the patch attributable to intrathecal stress. Many fellow leakers have blown out their patches — a clot or glue protecting the leak quickly 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 precise the crazy-making nature of this situation.

In lots of circumstances, there is no such thing as a imaging out there that’s delicate sufficient to point out a leak. Misdiagnoses are frequent. Imaging similar to 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 the easiest way to know in case you are 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 useful since. However the issue of exterior corroboration and testing solely exacerbates nervousness about what could or is probably not occurring in your physique. It’s a very robust, very exhausting dance to undertake. I’ve struggled probably the most with this stability of trying to remain in contact with my physique whereas additionally uncurling my clenched fingers from the eventual end 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’ll want to keep equanimous to heal successfully? That could 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 isn’t the way you heal. With the crutches of visits and calls from shut pals, somebody to speak with who focuses on grief, and the instruments I’ve drawn on on the worst of instances, I used to be capable of 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 nervousness in that process too: in my most artistic of nightmares, I by no means imagined anaphylaxis as a part of what might go unsuitable.

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 in every single place and LOVED it. They appear to get pleasure from doing so many times since, not solely to meals but additionally smells – and even scorching showers.

Given how pear-shaped issues went final time, I needed 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 persistence of saints. If gradual and regular was the best way, I used to be pleased 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 just a few months. Whereas I’m not bored, the ache ranges are fairly unconscionable and holding my spirit up has been a mighty problem.

From my very own calculus: if I do want to return to Duke, I wish 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 of 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 yr or Tet. A tremendous reader named Wendy simply despatched me a pic of lamp in my identify from her household’s temple in Malaysia, a New 12 months want of well being and prosperity. Lunar new yr was at all times 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 12 months 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 stress because it begins to seal, then unsealing. It might be that I would like intervention in any case, however I nonetheless have hope that the JodiDura-that-could comes by way of this winter. I’m consuming a strict and nutritious diet, meditating, visualizing, constantly working to deliver my thoughts into a greater area.

If I can’t seal through the winter, it definitely received’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 might run. Uninterested in 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 regarded again at Gradual and Regular and cried out, “How do you count on to win this race when you’re strolling alongside at your gradual, gradual tempo?” Hare stretched himself out alongside the street and fell asleep, considering, “There may be loads of time to calm down.” 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, nevertheless it was too late. Tortoise was over the road. After that, Hare at all times 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 generally you might 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 legislation 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 legislation 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 stop my legislation job, it wasn’t for a two month journey, it was for an open jaw journey to Siberia that unfurled into a wonderful and food-filled new profession.

My identification for years was the lawyer who stop her job to eat soup. As I’ve laid in mattress on and off since 2017, I’ve watched the journey trade and my fellow writers transfer on with their lives. Mine feels very caught. I’m very unused to not having the ability to remedy issues by DOING, and it’s a monumental shift in my mindset. Above and past the leak, my well being would require a distinct 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 alter lots about how I strategy work and achievement, as a result of extreme doing is a surefire method to undo my progress. There’s lots right here I hope to write down about sooner or later, about studying to get beneath 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’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 at all times for the caring notes, the questions, and the overwhelming assist and love. I’m terribly fortunate to have such a sturdy military of cheerleaders all over the world.

Lots of you may 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. In case you are fascinated about becoming a member of, the primary 7 weeks are right here, and you’ll get pleasure from any of the meditations because the tracks are all on that put up.

I’ve been meditating alone right here, however with all that unfolded I couldn’t handle the group ones through the holidays. I admire 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 put up 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 best way.


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