Saturday, January 22, 2011

Defining Chronically Ill and Flipping the Bird

How do I explain to people who are very rarely acutely ill what it's like to be chronically ill? I get attitude sometimes from people in my life who think I should just be able to get over it, snap out of it, work through it and pull myself up by my bootstraps.

If only it were that simple.

Let's start with some definitions. From the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary:

Chronic(ally): 1) describes a long-lasting illness; 2) always present; 3)habitual.

Ill: 1) unwell; 2) resulting in harm, pain or trouble; 3) unkind or unfriendly; 4) unfavorable; 5) morally bad.

A couple of things jump out at me so here's MY definition of chronically ill: a long-lasting, always present, unkind and unfriendly state of being.

And that definition reflects not only how I feel physically, but how a present myself to the world at large - unwell, unkind, unfriendly, unfavorable. Bad.

It's hard to be nice when you always feel like you've just been run over by a truck. It's hard to be charming when the simple act of smiling causes pain.

I find it interesting that the times when I feel the worst, are also the times I feel the most like writing about it. Not because I want to publicly whine about how awful my life is (I have a private journal and a sponsor for that - neither of which let me get away with whining for long) but because talking about it, writing about it, putting it out there is a lot like shining sunlight on a vampire - it shrivels up and ceases to exist.

And even though it sometimes hurts to laugh, it helps to find some humor in it. Learning to laugh about all the things that are wrong with me has done almost more than medication has in helping me keep my sanity.

As an example, my hands, wrists and fingers have been paining my especially bad the last couple of days. So, I posted the following to my Facebook status:

Lana D wishes her hands would get the memo to stop hurting. It is seriously interfering with my ability to flip people off.

And if you have done much driving on the streets of Havre the last few days, you know what a necessity that ability is!!


Lora said...

I wish I had words to give you an answer, but I don't.

But I can say I understand and love you. And it seems like you are doing an amazing job

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