Why I'm Choosing to Be Realistic About My Chronic Illness

I have gradually lost my independence over time. Pain has become a bigger and bigger factor, and one of my greatest limitations. Fatigue plays a close second.

I am mostly confined to my recliner when home and I use a wheelchair when there is any walking to be done. When I sit here in this chair, I feel pain. But, it seems that if I really tried, I could overcome it. I could cook a meal for my husband. I could go to church. I could go grocery shopping. I could get a job. And when I think these thoughts, the guilt is inevitable.

I feel like a faker.

But then I have to put a basket of laundry away, which my husband has kindly washed, and it takes me over three hours because I have to lay down every five minutes to try to subdue the pain in my spine.

I postpone a trip to the kitchen to get a drink or have lunch because my ankles hurt way too much to consider it.

My friend offers to drive me to church and I have to say no because I wouldn’t even make it through the process of getting dressed…never mind sitting in church for a couple of hours.

So yes.

I am very limited and to dream of working again is completely unrealistic.

Why is it that I am unable to believe this diagnosis? I keep my small sized clothes because I think maybe one day I will get back into shape and fit them. I hold onto my art supplies even though my hands are becoming too affected to do something like that. I keep my garden pots and seeds thinking that,“Maybe next year, I will be well enough to have a nice garden again.” I keep my knitting needles and yarn in hope that one day I will knit again.

There is a time for hope. And a time for acceptance. I am heavily into the denial stage of grief. And this has been no friend to me. It has led me to bite off things that were more than I could manage. And when I tried to endure and conquer my pain…it has slammed me into a wall, chewed me up and spit me out.

Sometimes disability and pain bring with them the need for relinquishment. But first of all, a valid assessment of my abilities and my weaknesses must come. Because if I don’t understand in my heart that I am in the midst of a degenerative disease and things are not going to get better, then I will continue to feel guilty for all the things I can no longer do. There is a place for optimism. There is also a real need for realism – and I think the realism will be, in the long run, more freeing and of greater benefit.

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