Understanding Why The Caged Bird Sings

Growing up I always loved, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," by Maya Angelou. It resonated with me on levels that I didn’t even understand. I now understand the meaning of the phrase, "I know why the caged bird sings."

They sing to keep from crying, from screaming, from breaking down, from falling apart, from self-destructing. They sing in order to contain their raging, tortured souls. Singing is their meditation, their medicine, their way of calming their souls while soothing others.

In-home sheltering with stage 4 breast cancer

In-home sheltering can make you feel like a caged bird. It can make you feel out of control, or it can help you take that much-needed rest that you longed for yet rejected at the same time.

In-home sheltering can have you getting acquainted with someone you never took the time to get to know yet you were with them on a daily basis. That someone is you. You get to spend time with you, and you get to know all of you, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

In-home sheltering can have you pacing the floor like the caged bird flits about its cage. Going everywhere yet nowhere at the same time. It can have you listening to music, reminiscing about what was and yearning for what’s to come.

While I’m no stranger to social distancing and in-home sheltering, this feels different. Having stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, along with lupus and sarcoidosis, has caused my immune system to be shot. Therefore, I have continually practiced social distancing as well as in-home sheltering. When I don’t, I suffer horribly for it.

Immunocomprimised with the coronavirus

In January, when my husband and I had the coronavirus, there were several times when I thought that we were going to die. There were other times when I didn’t care if I did because I felt that sick.

This was worse than metastatic cancer, lupus, sarcoidosis, heart and kidney issues, or any flu or double pneumonia that I’ve ever had to endure. The first leg of the race began with a sprint, which consisted of a stranger than usual bout of fatigue. It then escalated into the middle distance race which consisted of vomiting and loose bowels at the same time. It was then that I began to say, OK, Jesus, I can go now. If that weren’t enough, I entered the long-distance race. It was there where I thought that I was going to die. Everything hurt - my eyeballs hurt, teeth that I no longer had hurt; my skin felt like it was burning; I was burning from the inside out because my fever was so high. My skin began to peel and the corners of my mouth began to crack. I couldn’t eat anything; every time I tried to talk, a dry cough would choke me. I had lost my sense of taste and smell. I couldn’t raise my head. Even my tears caused me pain.

After contacting my doctor, I was given antibiotics which took four rounds, and I had to do three breathing treatments per day. I couldn’t lie on my back, because when I did, it felt as if my lungs were collapsing. This felt worse than cancer that’s running rampant in my body. When I slept, I slept for hours and hours at a time.

Terminal breast cancer

I could handle it because I have thrived through quite a few terminal illnesses. However, when I began to feel better, my body was different and still is. I can go days with no appetite, maybe just some popcorn, an apple tart, and some aloe vera juice. I tend to get winded more easily. My throat feels like it has a thick covering, and my fibromyalgia seems to be on high alert twenty-four hours a day.

With all of the medical things that I have to endure, crafting is my therapy, my solace, my happy place. However, with the closing of Hobby Lobby and Michael's, I felt as if I were under punishment with no release in sight.

I feel like that caged bird who wants to sing, but it has been sentenced to a season of silence. In-home sheltering is our cage, what shall we sing?

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