A+ For Being Human

I broke down this morning. There are days when I feel like I know how to be sick, and there are other days when I suck at it.

Navigating the waters of chronic illness is like being taught how to sail, then blindfolded, then thrown out into some choppy ocean with no coast guard. How the hell are you supposed to get to shore? Let’s pretend there are people on your boat too, like family and friends, relying on you to make your way home. They’re not allowed to touch the boat, but when you don’t do a good job steering, they feel it.

There’s a lot of pressure. You might do okay for a little while. Say the storm dies down. You’re like “sweet … life is getting easier. I can breathe without medicine, my blood pressure is normalizing … etc etc.” But then you remember you’re still blind-folded so you don’t know what’s coming. And, damn it, it DOES still hurt … and, damn it, it’s still really hard.

You want to be the captain that everyone looks up to … like Captain Sully that landed the flight in the Hudson … or that Scottish sea captain from the 1800s that Walt Witman wrote about. “That captain is so inspirational. Look at what he was able to accomplish under such dire circumstances. What bravery.” That’s who you want to be.

But what if you aren’t? What if you just want to hide below deck and wait until your boat either capsizes or it magically floats to shore? Would you take credit if it serendipitously washed up on sand? “Oh yes. I always knew I would make a full recovery. I just didn’t know when it would happen, so I kept trying. I really did. I fought every day to get better, and now I’m here.”

Lie. I don’t fight every day. I am retreating today. And I’m posting this so my recovery is honest. I isolate. I’m a wuss, a scaredy cat, a ‘fraidy pants … The little aches and pains get me down because I know this isn’t over. Not yet.

There is no rule book for chronic illness. You don’t get a grade. If you did, I would definitely be failing right now. I’m wallowing, full of self-pity … which I hate, by the way. The worst part about self-pity is how much I (and I’m sure a lot of others) hate having it. But then it pops up, and you’re like … okay I can be A) authentic about it, honor it and release it (which is an arduous process) OR B) I could deny the crap out of it, stuff it, and wait for the feeling to subside (which ultimately doesn’t help in the long run). Either way, the pitying is happening, whether you like it or not. And it’s not attractive.

I make gratitude lists, I do silent meditation, I get up and clean the house, I do yoga, I focus on self-love and my love for others, I try to engage in a community of other Lyme peeps, I try positive visualizations, I pray, I chant, I treat my body to good food, I thank the universe for all of the blessings I have in the way of healthcare, of monetary benefits, of good friends …

Well guess-fucking what?

Sometimes all those things, and all of everyone’s suggestions, and all of your internal attempts … They. Don’t. Work.

I’m here to tell you that –> IT’S OKAY.

I’m giving myself (and anyone else that needs it) an “A+” for being human today. If I could, I would hand out stickers. Instead, I will post a ridiculous photo of myself in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber … because it’s priceless.

Navigating the waters of chronic illness in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber --> This is smiling after 2 hours of freaking out in that small claustrophobic tank.
Navigating the waters of chronic illness in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber –> This is me smiling after 2 hours of freaking out in that small claustrophobic tank.

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