Being sick presents challenges for me. Some of those challenges are of the present and in the moment variety, and some of them are perceived or fear based.
An example of what I mean by present, in the moment challenges, would be pain, fatigue, dizziness, or being short of breath.
An example of perceived challenges would be the fear of what will happen/how I will feel if I do x, y, or z.
The things I am afraid of – the pain, fatigue, etc. – became a dark cloud for me for a time. Like an oppressive weight, every time I would think of something I could do, I would think of all the ways I might have to pay for it later. I know how bad a bad day really is, and I avoid those as much as possible
Unfortunately, it’s not guaranteed when something will or won’t affect me in a negative way. It’s also not guaranteed that going to bed on time, or taking it easy, or drinking enough water will help me feel well. Sometimes I do what feels like all the right things and I still feel physically awful.
Sometimes I do something that I’m certain will cost me and it doesn’t. When that happens, I usually feel supercharged with hope and energy and do something even more risky with my time and energy. Sometimes that extra risky action really hurts me and sometimes, guess what? No harm done.
I was doing some soul searching. Not really praying or checking in with God. This was more a self check-in. I found myself asking, “What kind of sick do you want to be?”
That’s a big question and as I unpacked it, I started thinking of the ways chronic illness affects my life, and the lives of people I love and admire.
I have friends who struggle with physically feeling awful, yet are incredibly sweet and pleasant. Before I departed from Facebook, I was part of a group of people with Chiari who were crushing it with their work outs and meal plans and fitness. I also know people who have deteriorated mentally and physically over the course of time.
It really hit me that I don’t have to sit still on the good days to prevent having bad days. I can never predict them, I’ve tried. Stress is a surefire way to make me feel awful. Weather changes affect me fairly consistently. Otherwise, I never know if overdoing it is going to hurt me later or not. I do know that underdoing it wrecks me mentally.
But I don’t have to sit in my bed/on my couch, and watch my life pass by. I still get to make some choices. I have chronic illnesses – Chiari and Asthma. But I don’t have to let those conditions dictate every moment of my life.
A little over a month ago, I started getting outside and walking every day. It was hard. In the first few days, I stopped after ten minutes of walking because I was too out of breath to continue (not just a bit winded, like asthma attack, get the inhaler out of breath). It took over ninety minutes to recover from the first walk. But I gradually added five minutes every few days. Now, I can walk forty minutes without being dangerously out of breath and my recovery minutes are down to five or so. I don’t need my rescue inhaler when I walk now (although I do carry it for good measure).
I get to choose what kind of sick I am in a few ways.
Am I going to be miserable and hard to be around?
Am I going to be sweet and pleasant, communicating when I am not feeling well in a kind way?
Am I going to stop putting forth effort because it might hurt?
Am I going to put forth my best effort, since pain and fatigue have been incredibly unpredictable?
Now, I don’t recommend jumping into a work out or physical routine without consulting your physician. I’m not a doctor or any sort of trained professional. I am a just a woman with chronic illness and these choices help me feel like I conquer Chiari and asthma instead of being conquered by them.
Is it important to you to feel like you are pushing back against your chronic illness? Why or why not?
Until next time,