Yesterday, when I woke up, I felt good. I decided to capitalize on the sunshine that has been happily present the last few days, and went for a short run. As my feet hit the pavement, I remarked on how solid they felt. It is good to feel strong.
As I ran, I admired the twinkly lights that had been put up at the entrance to the park, the drops of melted snow clinging to the still-surviving plants, and the pastel glow of the weak Swedish winter sun, that bathed the whole scene in its warm light.
I know that I have been using this blog to talk about a lot of the really horrible parts of battling a chronic illness, and for that I apologize. It is not my intention to make people feel sorry for me, or make you feel like I need cheering up, although the support has been wonderful. It’s just that there is so much on my mind, and by writing it down I am able to understand it and let it go. Unfortunately, it’s the bad stuff that affects me the most, and where I feel the most urgency to write it down.
Luckily, today has been a good day, and a day where I have had the mental strength to reflect on the positives of this journey.
When I was first diagnosed, a spent a short amount of time wishing that I was someone else, anyone else who didn’t have to deal with this illness. That didn’t last for very long though. I knew deep down that I love being me, and if being me has to include being sick, then so be it. I read somewhere that most people, when asked if they would trade their own suffering for someone else’s suffering, would not. We’d rather carry the burdens that have been selected for us.
I think as human beings we have a unique and essential ability to make sense out of senseless things. We can find meaning where there appears to be only chaos and bad luck. I think it is this ability that allows us to carry our burdens, no matter how heavy or unfair they may seem, and maybe even find something to like about them.
Today as I was running, I was thinking of the good changes this disease has brought about in my life. First of all, it has focused and deepened me as a person. I don’t take the little things, such as being able to share a beer or a coffee with a friend, for granted. When these things were initially taken away, it was really hard. I didn’t know how I would handle social events if I couldn’t participate in what everyone else was doing. And then as time went by, I realized that it was never about the beer or the coffee. What’s left is the most important part, and that’s the amazing friendships and relationships that I have. And that in itself is an extremely worthwhile revelation.
Additionally, I am more in tune with the suffering going on in the world, although my condition is nothing compared to what millions of other chronic illness sufferers are going through. That being said, it has opened my eyes enough that I am considering a career in nursing. I want to be a reassuring presence to people going through what I have been going through, and an advocate for those who don’t know how to get back to good health, and don’t have the right people on their side. I’m still working out the details on this one, but if all goes well I’m hoping to start a program in January 2018.
This illness has tested my relationship with my boyfriend, very intensely, and I think we are the stronger for it. After a year of dating, we already know how the other one deals under intense pressure, and how good we are at taking care of each other when it’s not easy. Most couples don’t face a test like this until well after they are married, and I think we are fortunate to experience it in the early days, knowing that we are going into things with both eyes open.
Finally, being sick has forced me to rely on my faith, when I have no other sign that anything is getting better. Before my lyme diagnosis was confirmed by a test result, I had a month of very intense questioning, not just by myself but by others. I didn’t fit the classic symptoms, didn’t remember a tick bite and never had a rash, and was facing the possibility of very intense antibiotic treatment for a disease that I didn’t see my connection with. Through it all I had a peace, and a voice inside of me saying that I was on the right track, and that I was seeing the right doctor (a lyme specialist, although I wasn’t even looking for one). Fortunately for me, I ended up receiving a positive test result and this questioning was put to rest, but I will always remember the peace that I felt when I wasn’t sure of anything else.
A friend told me that I will come out on the other side, so much stronger, and I agree. In some ways I feel blessed to have been chosen to take this journey, to be molded into a deeper, kinder and more compassionate me. And yesterday was a good day that I could realize that.