The heat of the fire was fuelled by unprecedented winds and above normal temperatures and the constant stress of friends that were part of the mass evacuation notices that gripped our community filled me with a terror and sadness that I never thought that I would be a silent witness of. When the pre-evacuation notices began to border about five miles from where my fiance and I live we also began to speak more slowly and we began to cull out what was important if we had to flee: ourselves, our cats and a few precious heirlooms were on stand-by. Friends and neighbors in our old established neighborhood were called to 'check in' and say 'we're here, do you need anything? If we have to evacuate please call us!'
I have been through many crises (both emotional, physical and general life-related)throughout my life, most of which began when I was a small child, and I always thought that I was a 'strong one'. Resilient. Brave. But as the days of terror increased and our inability to sleep at night due to high heat and even higher stress that we might be awakened by the police to flee our homes, my body began to show signs of my old childhood stand-bys of physical manifestations of emotional stress: fatigue, loss of appetite, and my IBS flared up to levels it has not reached in about seven years when my IC was at its worst pain and symptom-wise. Even some IC symptoms flared up with vaginal pain and the urgency to urinate more frequently heightened. I felt that my mind was separated from my body and I was simply in auto-pilot moving throughout the smoke-filled days, forcing down a little bit of food, dealing with the bloated stomach, severe stomach cramps and bouts of painful and severe bleeding during bowel movements.
As the danger of the fire is now being contained and our community is trying to take a step back, hugging their loved ones, and culling through the ashes of lost homes and businesses, my IC and IBS symptoms have also tapered off, phantoms along with the memories of plate-sized pieces of ash floating over my house. I am in shock not only over the fire that decimated our community in such a short amount of time but also at how quickly severe shock drove my IBS and IC symptoms to relapse. A very big lesson in the constant need for balance in life, diet, relationships and a sense of community. Gratitude for what I have endured sits on my shoulder with dragon fly wings.