Being disabled since I was 27 years old, I have come to accept the daily pain. I have come to expect the daily pain. I am excited and relieved on the rare occasions when I wake and I don’t have a headache, backache, stomach ache or some other issue that reminds me that I am not the girl I used to be.
It took a long LONG time for me to accept that I couldn’t do all the things I used to do. It took a long time for me to adjust to a new lifestyle. Over the years I’ve continued to have to make adjustments in order to keep from hurting myself or putting myself in more pain.
I can’t go bowling anymore. I can’t clean a whole room in one day. I can’t go shopping at more than one store in a day. Long drives are difficult for my back. There are many things I have to be more careful of or do less than I used to.
I have come to accept all of that. I have come to accept myself. Still there are many moments when I feel completely useless and worthless. When for 2 days I can barely walk because I pulled a muscle in my back when I sneezed, I feel worthless. When 5 out of 7 days of the week I wake with excruciating migraines, I feel useless. When it hurts me just to stand at the counter to try to make myself some breakfast I feel useless and worthless.
Still I have worked hard and work hard every day to do the things I can do and remember that the illnesses in my body are not my fault. I didn’t choose them and I don’t choose to keep them. It just is what it is and I have to work with it.
Every day I have thanked my lucky stars for my husband who has been the most understanding and loving person in my life. When I am ill he does things without complaint. He smiles and tells me he loves me. When I feel worthless, useless, afraid, unsteady, and the plethora of other emotions that I sometimes go through, he steadies me and makes me feel better about myself.
Not every person with chronic illness is as fortunate as I. Some people have no support system or they struggle with friends and family who simply can’t or won’t understand. People accuse them of being lazy or faking it, and that simply is not the case.
WE HURT! You may not always see it, because we are experts at hiding our pain, but it is ALWAYS there in some form or fashion. It’s the enemy within that, like that unwanted guest, never leaves us alone. It is the reason we do not sleep soundly and that we wake still tired. It is the reason we often have to cancel plans or simply avoid making them at all. It is a daily battle that we struggle with and sometimes we win, but sometimes we don’t.
It is not our fault! I say this to remind those who are in our lives, who sometimes feel we are just always sick. We didn’t choose the illness, it chose us. We don’t want it, or try to keep it. We don’t fake sick, we are more likely to celebrate on the days we feel well. Sometimes on good days we try to do everything and then we pay for it in the days that follow.
It is not OUR fault! I say this to those of us who suffer with chronic illnesses, whether it be physical or mental. Your pain is real. Your hopes and dreams still exist. You didn’t choose to be ill, but you are fighting the good fight and some days you WILL WIN. On the days you don’t win, rest. It’s ok. Not everyone will understand but you have to give yourself that understanding and love so that you can fight again tomorrow.