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When Chronic Illness Is a Series of Sad Realizations

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Throughout this health journey of mine I’ve dealt with it in ways that probably only make sense to me. For example, when I was first diagnosed with epilepsy and then shortly after with pseudotumor cerebri, I had what I called sad realization moments.

My first sad realization came during a 72-hour extended EEG test with about 50 probes stuck in my hair. I came home from the hospital trying to get undressed and was so weak, so confined by the probes that I couldn’t take off my own shirt. I cried. Another time I woke up in the hospital after a laminectomy and couldn’t move my right leg. Running into the vacuum at home one night was a sad realization too, when I discovered I couldn’t see in the dark at all anymore.

Although the sad realizations have been tough, at times they helped me. Sometimes I felt like a spectator to my own life. Noticing things, mentioning them and even laughing at them helped me process what was happening to me.

As my journey continued there were less and less sad realizations, because let’s be honest — my entire life was a sad realization. I was at a point where I mostly went to doctor’s appointments, slept and needed help to do anything. A couple of months ago, I experienced the biggest sad realization I had ever had.

Sitting in my room, I tried to figure out how I was going to go get my nails done. My boyfriend was working, my mom was working, and they don’t like me using ride sharing services by myself. So I was stuck. I didn’t want my boyfriend who works hard all day to take me when he got off from work, because he was tired. I knew my mom was tired too. So I was stuck. Sitting on my bed was the first time I felt stuck in my situation, stuck in the house unable to get up and go if I wanted or needed to like a regular adult. And the sad realization hit me like a truck; I will never be able to drive again.

I’m sure some of you are thinking — you haven’t driven in a long time, why now is it affecting you? You’ve had visual issues for a while now, you had to know that right? Well yes, I haven’t driven a car since December 2014, yes I have significant vision damage that keeps me from seeing the TV, let alone seeing enough to drive a car. My neuro-ophthalmologist even said I’d never drive again. But in this moment it finally hit me, and it scared me. I started thinking about when I have kids, if I’m home alone with them and they need something, I can’t drive and provide it for them. This sad realization hurt me the most.

After a two minute break down, I pulled myself together and realized I have people willing to help me get around this never-ending obstacle in my life, and that is what is important. A friend reminded me during this whole battle I’ve been adjusting, adapting and enduring, and I will learn how to adapt when I have children as well.

I write all this to say, it’s OK to laugh at yourself and your situation, it’s OK to notice and even cry about those sad realizations in life — but try not to stay there. Cry for a minute if you need, and whisper to that realization, “I see you” and let it pass. Adapting, adjusting and enduring is a part of life, and we can all get through it no matter how sad, no matter the obstacle or realization.

Photo provided by contributor

Originally published: September 20, 2019
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