So, dear readers, I’ve told you about some of my past, but I’ve been holding out, procrastinating sharing about my present, because sharing it on here means I have to be honest. No sugar. No denial. No faking that I have it all together.
So here is a first glimpse. Since the beginning of winter in June, I had a crazy series of repeated cough-inducing, energy-sucking airway infections of all sorts. Eight of them, ending with pleurisy, sore lungs, a lot of steroids and a diagnosis of chronic bronchitis. Thanks doc for clearing that up. Why? I don’t know. There isn’t a main obvious cause, but rather a couple of factors that played a part I think. Other than that I have no answers. I tried everything, took every useful immuno booster and only two rounds of antibiotics. Soul-searching? Check. Vitamins and shots? Check. Prayer? Check. Rest? Duh. I felt like an idiot, trying to explain myself at work every two or three weeks. I did blood work and thankfully there are no autoimmune, thyroid or TB issues (for any other health experts wondering). No other answers right now either.
Being ill or struggling with fatigue and pain is not new to me
Fatigue is an issue. My spoons are limited and I have to budget my strength. Pain is an issue thanks to weight loss, sleep issues and cramps. Good supplements? Check. Eating well? Generally, yes. Frustration? Dealing with it. I am 31 now and not new to being in a position of limited health and energy. Ten years ago, I developed asthma due to allergies and neglected treatment initially. Two years later, I developed fibromyalgia. Once in a while I had severe stomach problems that would set off a fever and vomiting and land me in hospital. Five years ago, I came off of medications for depression that I’d taken far too long (and overdosed on once) and suffered some damage to my nervous system. This is not the case for everyone, everybody is different.
For me, it was sheer hell the first year I was off meds. I had debilitating muscle spasms that would last for hours on end, on an almost daily basis. I used support braces on my arms for pain relief and used a cane because I was rather off-balance when walking and I was scared of falling. Then, I was blessed with a miraculous pregnancy, a process that greatly improved my health and ability to function. My little girl is a gift in so many ways.
Since she was born, I recovered to the point where around 90% of the time, I can forget about it all and my life is normal. The other 10% of symptoms are way more manageable and remind me that I am not invincible. I am more than grateful for what health I have now than ever before.
Challenges and questions come again
But, after this winter’s battering, I questioned everything again – my body, myself, what else I could have done or should do and I questioned God for an answer. I admitted that I am tired of feeling like my faith and all my efforts to “do my part to take care of myself” just don’t “measure up” to the expectations of others and even my own. I am tired of explaining and defending my health management and getting judged for it. Not being well or getting well as fast as others is not failure. Sometimes it just is what it is. It doesn’t change the fact that God’s will is healing, but we cannot dictate when or how or even why it should take place as we want.
Somehow society is still heavily attached to the misconception that you have to look sick to prove that you are sick or in pain. Who wants to look like that all the time? Sheesh. I know that’s part of life – people rarely understand what they haven’t experienced, but all the same, it’s hard sometimes. I have occasionally even envied people who have a simple diagnosis that satisfies curiosity in quick one-liner fashion.
The bottom line is this: I’m out of the woods but need to respect my limits right now and whether I like it or not, my body is taking more time to heal than others might. I’ve been sicker than other people who get over the flu in three days or a week without any other hiccups. Throwing up from coughing, struggling to breathe even with nebulizer treatments and steroids really was no joke. Aside from being sick, slow recovery is maddening when you’re a productivity freak!
I want to get a grip on it all, how about you?
Your reality is different than mine, and I know you have your own challenges to deal with. What choices can you make to empower yourself?
My choices are:
- I accept there are not always answers to every messy situation. And that’s okay.
- I choose to be thankful and joyful (after letting the other emotions go, such as disappointment, frustration and feeling overwhelmed).
- I focus on what I CAN do (which is still a lot) – enjoying simple comforts, good music, getting the necessary things done. I take the spoons I have and eat dessert with them, as much as I can!
- I embrace the possibility that opening up and being real about my journey may help others feel less alone and bring positive opportunities that I never considered.
- I am embracing acceptance of myself, my health as is and the whole experience. (Yeah right, right? Well, it’s a process.) This sounds so soppy writing it, but I’ve been wrestling with this for a long time and my denial has gotten a bit worn out (can anyone else relate?). I am not giving up, just acknowledging that my health is what it is and that God can use it if I let Him. More on this next time.
You’re welcome to share your thoughts, experiences, questions and where you are at with whatever challenges you face. Share this post with someone who needs it and let’s encourage each other! Also post questions if you want to know how to support someone with chronic illness and check out these suggestions.