When the Price of a Good Day Is Worth It

The saying “everything has a price” is seldom more relevant to me than after a “good” day — meaning a day I feel well enough or am medicated enough to do something fun or normal.

Even if the day or activity itself goes off without a hitch, it’s still something that is beyond what my body is usually capable of, and much like a healthy person, there is a price to be paid for that. Unlike a healthy person, the cost is considerably higher for me in a multitude of ways.

I call it the “aftercrash.”

At the Texas Renaissance Festival...I made it all day!
At the Texas Renaissance Festival. I made it all day!

Doctors call it the let-down effect: In the immediate aftermath of stressful times — perhaps following an anxiety-producing project at work or a major family crisis — when you finally have time to take a deep breath and unwind, that’s when illness can unexpectedly strike. Just when you’re letting down your hair, your ability to fight off illnesses may let you down.

Whatever you call it, it can strike with a vengeance when you often think the worst is past, and even good stress (yes, that’s a thing) and excitement can bring on an episode. I believe people with chronic illness and chronic pain are susceptible to the aftercrash and the havoc it wreaks for anything from a small outing to a major event.

We all have our limits that our bodies say, “OK, that’s enough” to, even if we’re in perfect health. Society praises those who excel beyond the limits and push themselves despite them, and we with chronic illnesses do this very regularly even though it’s sometimes detrimental to us. We are the don’t-quit poster children, it seems, trying to still do it all while smiling through the pain.

And while I believe acceptance and knowing our limits is very important — limits can keep us alive, after all — that’s a subject for another post, because today I’m embracing the aftercrash.

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m celebrating it.

I’m celebrating the pain that is too much today even while I practice self care and recover, because it means I didn’t just exist for a day, I lived, despite knowing it would cost me.

The world of chronic illness is frequently a balancing act spent weighing the consequences of doing something that means we may not be capable of something else. Even a shower is a planned activity for us that can sap us enough to make it our only activity of the day. And I think knowing these crashes are coming or likely and what may bring them on is an all-important key to navigating our lives.

Sometimes we may let that knowledge that the aftercrash is coming prevent us from doing something we want to do… we may let the fear of what’s coming stop us from living in the now. And some days our illness just plain wins.

But some things, days, or even moments are worth it… because otherwise we wouldn’t have the good memories to balance out the bad, unbearable days.

For those moments, we have lived without fear. We didn’t let our illness keep us from the moments that matter.

And that is sometimes a price worth its weight in gold.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Illness

busy shopping mall

When I Was Too Weak to Walk in the Mall

Today I went to the mall with my husband and kids. Even on a good day, my trips to the mall come with limitations. I was pretty weak to begin with, but I was trying to keep an optimistic mind in hopes that I would be able to have an enjoyable afternoon with my family. [...]
two women sitting outside in a park hugging

10 Tips for Supporting a Friend or Loved One With Chronic Illness

I was inspired to write this story after reading so many others sharing their own stories and advice in regards to their chronic illnesses. Coming across The Mighty in my quest to find resources of support for my chronic illnesses has been very comforting to me. As anyone suffering from long-term chronic illness knows, it [...]

What the Past 10 Years of My Life With a Chronic Illness Have Been Like

I can’t help but feel contemplative and nostalgic as the middle of this month approaches. November. To me, this month means more than the increasing nip in the air and the changing of the seasons. This year marks the most crucial and drastic change I may ever experience in my lifetime. I can’t remember the [...]
young woman tying shoelaces on her running shoes

Why I'm Determined to Run a Half-Marathon as a Person With Chronic Illnesses

“I’m going to run a half-marathon,” I said. “Yeah, right. You run?” “Yes, why is that funny?” I replied. “Because you’re chronically ill. Sick people can’t play sports.” “Oh, can’t they?” I said, as I eagerly put on my running shoes for another multi-terrain, 11-mile training session in the wind and rain. “You just watch [...]