It’s been 2 years, 1 month and 5 days since I first experienced the godawful headache, that I was sure would kill me.
Surprisingly, it didn’t!
However, there were certainly times when I wish it had… but then again, they say what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.
And I’ve definitely found that to be true.
I’ve survived several broken hearts, unspeakable loss, debilitating grief, ugly divorces, numerous serious illness… and more! I’ve always come out on the other side, stronger, smarter and more resilient.
So, I guess it’s just as well that damn headache didn’t kill me!
There were also numerous times, in the last two years, when I didn’t think I’d make it this far…. but here I am two years down the line, on only 12mg of Pred (down from 80mg) and living a “semi-normal” life! Who would have thought?
In the beginning, it felt like a “curse.” I was sure I was doomed. “Woe is me,” struck down, in the prime of my golden years, with not ONE, but TWO horrible, life changing auto immune diseases (not to mention the horrific side effects of the only treatment there is available, for each of them!). It really did seem like a fate “worse” than death! …but as time went on, and things normalised, I sometimes wondered, if just maybe, it might actually be a blessing in disguise?
Oh please don’t misunderstand me, it sucks! It sucks soooo bad, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy; however, I have learned so much, and I have grown so much, I cant help but wonder…
What have I learned?
Well, I learned how to …
- slow down,
- put my needs first,
- say “No,”
- listen to my body,
- deal with stress more effectively,
- eat healthier,
- do nothing and not feel guilt,
- not take things for granted,
- respect other people’s opinion,
- let more things slide
- be more patient
How have I grown?
I am more …
- grateful for all that I have and for the times when I feel well,
- open and loving towards the people who are closest to me,
- inclined to listen
- comfortable with who I am,
- creative and artistic,
- expressive (especially in the written medium),
- honest, with myself and with others
- introspective and self analysing
Sure… it’s possible I would have gotten “here” without having two sucky autoimmune diseases, but I’ll never really know, will I?
So, I chose to take comfort in thinking that these illnesses (and their treatment) has helped to “soften” me a little, smoothed off some of my rough edges… That somehow, being ill, has helped to make me a better, more well rounded, fair, centred and balanced person.
Ummm, don’t ask my husband if any of this an accurate self-assessment, just take my word for it, okay?
For anyone just starting out on a journey of a prolonged or chronic illness, if I have any advice… it would be to be kind to yourself.
Try not to set any expectations of yourself (or anyone else, for that matter), or your illness and you’ll never be disappointed!
Take each day as it comes and try to go with whatever the illness presents to you on that day.
On the days you feel well, be consciously thankful. Acknowledge and thank someone/something… be it God, the Universe, your Rheumy, the Pred… whatever! Just be consciously thankful to someone or something, bigger than yourself.
And let’s face it, there are many, many things out there bigger than us!
“Oh and HELL yeah,” all this? It’s way easier said, than done! And YES, you’ll fail a million times; but start each day with those intentions and you’ll be okay, in the long run.
After all time does indeed fly, and before you know it, you will normalise into your illness and maybe you too will grow and learn a few things about yourself.