When you suffer from a chronic illness your life randomly spins out of control as you try to endure setbacks. Illness with a mind of its own flares up ending temporary remission and teaches you to distrust your body. You never know when it will let you down. And when it does you will blame yourself. You worked too hard, traveled too far, indulged in too much sugar, gluten, dairy or whatever. Don’t go there. It is not on you.
All human beings show wear and tear as we age, but the body parts of those with chronic illnesses age faster.
It’s not fair. But nothing about life is fair. It’s a crap-shoot at best. Otherwise why would good people get sick?
Like Frannie whose battle with lupus has worn out her kidneys and heart. Everybody loves Frannie. She lights up all of Sterling with her smile and fills your soul with energy when she wraps you in one of her big bear hugs.
Like my kind and loyal childhood friend Jane, who has fought multiple sclerosis for decades. When her legs give out she rides around her house on her scooter never complaining.
Like my writing buddy Kathy out east, who pours positivity in every word of her inspirational blog Memoir Writer’s Journey. After surviving Stage Four Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, over a decade later, she now faces dialysis when her kidneys began to fail from the chemo treatments.
I cry, I rant, I lash out at the world in anger. Why me? Why not you? You don’t have to look far to bear witness to someone else’s suffering.
Why did this bacteria, cancer, virus pick my body to invade?
I rage at the injustice. Then I pick myself back off the floor and keep going.
Here are ways to help cope during those inevitable setbacks.
Rest but try to keep your mind busy. Watch Netflix series or listen to podcasts.
Read books. If you want good recommendations check out my friend Helen Cohen Bludman’s blog Books Is Wonderful or try one of Lynne Spreen’s Karen/Grace Blues series, featuring an adventuresome middle aged protagonist.
Call a sister, brother, daughter, son, parent, friend or other loved one
Draw strength from others in unexpected cards, emails, FB notices.
Follow bloggers that write/research about your illness like my friend Cathy Chester’s Empowered Spirit‘s blog about living graciously and staying positive despite a diagnosis of MS.
Strum a guitar.
Form a support group.
Join a forum.
Share a hug.
Though today is our only guarantee, make plans for tomorrow.
As soon as I am physically able, I force myself to go outside and put one foot in front of the other. I look at the magnificent view around me and beseech the mountaintops, “Give me the strength to go on.”
When I can, I walk for Fran, for Jane, for Kathy and for all those people who struggle each day to get out of bed, put on a happy face and keep fighting.
We may be wounded…
but we are still warriors.