Four years ago, this happened, and it began this entire crazy, chronic journey that I have been experiencing. In terms of adventures, it has been one that I could have never fathomed happening to me. But life happens. You deal with it, and try to remain as normal and unscathed as humanly possible. I’ve learned a lot, and cried a lot, and lost a lot, and gained a lot during this journey. And, although I would cure myself in a heartbeat if given the choice, I accept what has happened to me, and I like the person I am becoming.
For a long time after becoming sick, I bemoaned the unfulfilled dreams in my life. I’m super dramatic, so I truly grieved missing experiences that I probably would have never wanted to have if I had been super healthy. “Why me? Why did I have to give up my career? Why did I have to give up my dream of being a mother? Why did I have to give up my dream of being the first teacher to teach a middle school class in space????” (Okay, that last one wasn’t my dream, but if it had been . . . well, I’m pretty sure I would have had to give it up. Honestly, who wants pre-teens in space anyway?) What I have learned, however, is that when one dream is taken away, we are blessed with new dreams and passions to fill its place.
I would never in a zillion years have believed I had enough to say to start a blog, but here it is. (It’s only fair that I admit that I have PLENTY to say- just ask Joe-, but it’s not typically anything any sane person would want to hear!) The blog has made me dream even bigger . . . I have the secret dream (okay, scratch that, it’s not a secret any more) of some day writing a book that would encourage (and provide chuckles for) chronically ill patients like me. Will it ever happen? Who knows? But I am glad that I have reached a place in my life where I can see hope and possibility in the midst of the devastation of illness.
New dreams come from new passions. From the time I was 12-13ish, I wanted to spend my life working with children. I truly love kids. They’re hilarious and awkward and small and smelly (so far I’ve described myself, I think) and just so very fun. But . . . life happened, and chronic illness happened. Not only am I no longer able to teach, I’m truly no longer capable of working with groups of children. I mean, who wants a Vacation Bible School teacher, or cheerleading coach, or church nursery worker that is afraid to touch children for fear that her shoulder or hip will dislocate, and she’ll drop a child or fall over and crush him/her? I’ve become a bit of a liability. What is amazing, however, is I don’t really miss working with children like I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong. I still love kids, and if you sit next to me in a restaurant I WILL try to make friends with your kids. (Oh yeah, and if you have a baby, I’ll befriend you just in hope that your baby will wave at me or talk sweet baby gibberish to me.)
I have a new passion, however, for a group that gets far less attention than children- the chronically ill. (I realize I basically just said, “I love people like ME!” but stay with me for a minute.) My own chronic illness journey made me realize what a lonely and frightening voyage it can be. At the hardest and scariest time of my illness, I would sometimes go weeks with no one to talk to but my husband and my mom. I don’t believe that everyone else was intentionally ignoring me, but a sick friend that just doesn’t get better is awkward. If you have a friend that has surgery, it’s easy to know what to do. Check on them while they’re in the hospital; bring them food once they’re home; maybe even offer to help them around the house until they’re better. Because, you know, they will heal and get better eventually. With chronically ill friends, well, we’re just stuck in a cycle of sickness where there are good days and bad days, but all the days are health focused. Let’s be honest, we’re a bit of a drag at times.
But . . . I think we’re awesome. We fight a battle every day, and we know that the next day is going to be a new battle. We pretend we feel fine (even though everything hurts) for other’s comfort, and we do our best to hold it all together. Eventually, it’s my dream to host an actual real live group of chronic illness sufferers. I’m not sure I love the term “support group,” but it’s the best I’ve got for now. (Oh brain fog, why must you torture me?) Ultimately, I want to encourage others who suffer from chronic illness (physical illness, mental illness, or whatever plagues you). I want to check on them after scary doctor’s appointments. I want to encourage them to find ways to help others. I want to laugh together at absurdity that is this crazy, chronic life.
So . . . for now, there’s not a real, physical group, because my crazy, chronic family is spread all over the world. But I DO want to know you better and give you a place to connect and encourage. Here’s the fun announcement (It’s been a rough few days. I apologize if this is a sad excuse for “fun.”), there’s a Crazy, Chronic Life facebook page. I moderate the page, but it’s not MY page. It’s all of ours. Feel free to join by clicking the link below.
I am so excited to meet more of you. Please know that each of you has made this sick blogger from Kentucky’s dreams seem more possible.
Peace, love, and health.