I’m not giving up. I’m not a quitter. It’s not really in my nature.
But for the first 20 years of this chronic illness, I spent a good portion of my time trying to find ways to be healed. Or spending time being depressed because I wasn’t.
I don’t think I’d ever really thought about it that way, though, until I read a blog post this week, “The Harsh Realities of Chronic Illness,” from cottagelovelyhome.com. Lee Ann writes:
I think when I first got sick, I spent the first few years concentrating on getting better. Most people do. It’s the natural response. I tried all sorts of doctors, all kinds of medicines, holistic approaches, you name it. And advice came out of the woodwork from everybody! Believe me, if I thought it would help, I either already tried it or it went into the heap of NOPES! Anyway, the harder I tried to get better, the more miserable I became. The reality of some things is just…it is what it is. I’m not against trying something if a good option comes up. But I had to get on with living my life. I had to accept my new normal…..sucky as it was….it was my life. And that felt better than fighting with it all the time. And THAT is when I was able to see the gifts start to appear!
She went on to talk about the reality of living with a chronic illness. She shares some really good points. You can read it here.
So, like her, I’m not giving up, but …
I’m moving forward.
Several events occurred in 2015-16 that eventually got me where I am today. Which is this: spending my time living. And that means figuring out ways to live in my circumstances.
Since I can’t really commit to things because I never know how good or how bad I will be feeling from one day to the next, how can I do that?
Planning. Sort of. (Sort of only because, you know, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Go oft awry.” 😊)
Anyway, here’s an example: I know that I really want to go to my daughter’s show choir competition on Saturday. And when I go, I’m all in. I want to experience as much of it as possible and support as many kids as I can, not just my own (because even though I have this chronic illness, I’m blessed to have a somewhat flexible schedule and a burning desire to support these amazing kiddos. And not all parents do, on both accounts, I suppose). That means driving 1-2 hours to the competition, sitting in an auditorium for 12+ hours and driving 1-2 hours back home. Sounds exhausting for even the healthiest of us.
So that takes planning. I probably need 2-3 days beforehand (if I’m lucky … sometimes much more) to rest up where I don’t do anything but the minimum which generally means work from my bed (FYI – I always work from my bed). And I probably won’t be able to do anything for 2-3 days afterward to recover (except work from my bed). This, in all likelihood, could be much longer because I’ll probably drag myself out of bed on Sunday morning to go to church (hopefully). That’s more sitting. And a whole lot more pain.
But, my planning doesn’t always work out. My daughter had a choir event a few weekends ago and then also a special event at church one evening and I just couldn’t get out of bed for either, even though I’d done my usual resting beforehand. Thankfully, my husband was able to go and support her. But that’s really rough on me emotionally because I want to support her in everything she does. And I also want to spend time with my husband.
So while I’m not giving up on finding a cure or finding a treatment that makes me feel good enough to get out of bed every day, and maybe even play basketball again, I’m moving forward.
Because how many more months and years am I willing to spend just waiting? Or angry? Or depressed?
When I think back to just a few years ago, I missed out on so much. My husband would take our kids to events, activities and even on trips without me. I think a lot of why I didn’t go was fear I wouldn’t be able to handle it, depression because of my circumstances, or just poor planning (or all three). Now I make sure I always drive myself places, even when friends offer to carpool. That’s so I have an escape if something goes “awry.” Or a place to retreat when it gets too bad.
While I still may miss out on things now, I’m figuring out ways to do what’s most important instead of wallowing in miserableness because I’m still sick.
And even though I’ve been feeling the worst I’ve ever felt in the last couple of years, they have also been some of the most amazing in my life. Like Lee Ann, when I finally began to accept this is my new normal is when I was able to see more gifts in my life.
David A. Bednar, in “Accepting the Lord’s Will and Timing,” said:
Righteousness and faith certainly are instrumental in moving mountains—if moving mountains accomplishes God’s purposes and is in accordance with His will. Righteousness and faith certainly are instrumental in healing the sick, deaf, and lame—if such healing accomplishes God’s purposes and is in accordance with His will. Thus, even if we have strong faith, many mountains will not be moved. And not all of the sick and infirm will be healed.
Many of the lessons we are to learn in mortality can be received only through the things we experience and sometimes suffer. And God expects and trusts us to face temporary mortal adversity with His help so we can learn what we need to learn and ultimately become what we are to become in eternity.
This has become my focus … figure out what am I supposed to learn and accomplish with the pain and suffering I experience every day. Is that always easy? No. Rarely. But when I’m humble enough to remember, amazing things can happen.
Some people may think I’ve given up on getting better. But I don’t see it that way.
I’m trying to trust in God and move forward, one step and one day at a time, and enjoy the journey as I go.