How I Choose to Hold on to Hope in My Life With Gastroparesis
When you think about what it’s like to live with a chronic illness, you may think about how awful it is. You may think about all the life changes, surgeries, medications, doctors, appointments, missed events, loss, the emotional toll, etc. I used to think that way myself. I used to think why me? And over the years, I’ve realized why.
In saying that, I’d still never wish this on my worst enemy. No one should live without their favorite foods. No one should have to poke themselves with needles daily, or worry if they have all their medications when they’re out of the house for the day. No one should have to worry if it’s safe to drive somewhere, or wonder what repercussions they’ll have going on a day trip with friends.
All of that is still part of my life. It’s frustrating and I’ll get down on myself sometimes. I get mad and bitter at the world when I can’t go have drinks with my friends, go out to dinner wherever, or pick up and go somewhere spontaneously because I have too much to carry on me. Everything has to be planned.
There’s one side effect of being chronically ill that you wouldn’t expect: hope. Hope is the one thing that chronic illness can give you, even though some days it seems like it wants to take it away.
Hope gives me something to fight for. Hope reminds me that I am worth the fight; that despite the terrible deck of cards I was dealt there is still good in the world. It gives me the chance to use those cards for something better. It’s not an easy thing to do by any means. Finding and holding onto hope when all seems lost in the dark takes a strength you may not have realized you had. I promise you though, it’s there.
I realized that being sick didn’t take away my voice, it amplified it. It gave me a purpose, and gave me the means to fight not only for myself, but for the entire community.
It’s true, you can lose a lot. Illness can take a lot away from you with no regard for what you want. I had to grieve the life I had always hoped for, more than once. I’d get better for a while, then worse before I could do something about it. The grief cycle would start all over again. In that moment though, I found that something amazing can happen. You can choose to let it all in and get better, or hold onto it and stay bitter. I chose better. You can choose to resent this life, or choose to live it.
My life isn’t perfect. I certainly wish I didn’t have to deal with what I do. I hate knowing I’ll be on medication until I die, but I also know that same medication helps me live. Sure, living this new normal took a lot of adjusting, tears and mistakes, but I’m happy. I found a way to live this life with peace. I found my place, my purpose, my why, and it’s doing exactly this.
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Thinkstock photo by Victor_Tongdee