Failing, Succeeding, Pausing, Deciding, and Thriving are five words that we’ve heard and spoken of often. Each of these words should immediately bring to mind a recent or memorable event. These are March’s prompts from A Chronic Voice.
I’m happy to again write some thoughts that come to mind concerning my life of chronic illness. Although my goal is to live each day just as I would apart from being sick, chronic illness often prevents me from reaching that goal. And, some days my illnesses are all I can think of.
As a young person, failing usually meant a poor grade in math class or not winning a desired music award. During the optimistic days of my youth, I was able to fail again and again without discouragement. Every time I was knocked down, I would get back up, more driven than before. Never did I feel like a failure. I felt that failing was an event, not a way of life.
After many years of fighting chronic illnesses and becoming a person who no longer contributes to anything, I often feel like a failure. It’s so easy to now experience the action of failing every single day. It has become a part of my life and in a measurable way, has become a way of life.
As a performance-driven person, succeeding usually means that I’ve completed an action and it meets my expectations. As I wrote about in failing, succeeding meant I had won the award, made the top grade, or some other success. Before becoming a “sick”person, I only thought of succeeding in terms of large events. Success was something I looked forward to, and something that was worth noting.
Now, success has a new meaning for me. Success means that I tried hard to accomplish any little thing and actually did it. Now, just the act of getting a shower is succeeding. Preparing a meal or doing laundry makes me feel like I’m succeeding. Just the smallest accomplishment makes me feel great. It doesn’t take a huge event to make happy. Chronic illness has made me rejoice in small successes.
My chronic life is filled with pauses. When I was healthy, I rarely paused. Why would I need to pause? I could work hard all day and enjoy my accomplishments. Now, with the chronic life, I am pausing often. If I want to work on a chore or project, I will need to pause after 5-10 minutes. This rest is necessary. Because I get out of breath and sometimes have chest pain, I have learned to rest often.
My son is in the process of deciding where to attend grad school. I’m not deciding anything at present, but his decision will affect me. Wherever we move, I have to find out what kind of medical insurance will be available and at what price. I will need to find out what kind of doctors and hospitals are nearby. Chronic illness means that all of this has to be a part of each decision. These are considerations that a healthy person wouldn’t have at the forefront of their mind. Chronic illness changes everything.
Thriving or flourishing could also be imagined as blooming. Different seasons of life bring out a variety of ways to bloom or flourish. It can be easier to bloom in the sunshine of a healthy and easy existence. I remember those easy days when things just went my way.
It’s not so easy to bloom when everything hurts and the medicines you take leave you with a foggy mind, blurred vision, and weight gain. Going from one doctor to another and collecting a bag full of “relief” certainly doesn’t make me feel like blooming. It’s a struggle just to get dressed and make the bed.
But, when the fog is clear and my vision is pretty good, I can feel the sunshine and bloom a little. Over the months and years, I have learned to bloom even on a cloudy day when there is no water to keep me fresh. I know I don’t always feel like blooming, such as when I resent my lack of light. I pray for God to send rain, refreshment, and nourishment so that I can bloom for Him.
@2019, copyright Lisa Ehrman