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Why I Started the 'I Had a Good Day' Project After a 'Bad' Pain Day

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Over the last nine months or so, I’ve been in and out of the hospital several times and have had over 100 doctor appointments, or what feels like it anyways. Waiting rooms, infusions and hospital stays all have one thing in common – they’re all cold and boring. Your thoughts wander for what feels like an endless amount of time. Quickly fear, anxiety and doubt set in. Fear that today’s routine follow-up won’t offer another option to alleviate symptoms or improve disease – and if it does, anxiety that it will work but the side effects will be too harsh. Eventually you’re left sitting there with doubt – doubt that it will ever “get better.” In reality, no one has ever influenced this way of thinking. This is purely your own thinking. You know this, but it doesn’t matter. You spiral downward into a dark world and get down on yourself and think the worst, which in all honesty is probably the easier option. But that’s just it. It is an option.

Yes. There really is a second option.

Alternatively, you can take this endless amount of time to think on a more positive note. I used to be the first poor soul – always hating and being angry at anything and everything that wasn’t how I envisioned it. That’s how the “I Had a Good Day” Project began.

It was a fine day – a warm, sunny, typical summer day. Nothing bad happened and things went on as normal. The only difference was I sat there wallowing in self-pity and loathe at my “luck.” I was fighting an infection which meant I couldn’t take two of my main medications, resulting in increased pain and stiffness as well as a host of other symptoms and complaints. I was at my maternal grandparents’ house accompanied by both of my parents, my brother, my sister and let’s not forget their cat and dog (as mean as the cat can be – but that’s another story). I was in good company, so naturally that should have raised my spirits, but I chose to dwell on how I was feeling instead of what and who surrounded me. The food was good and, as previously mentioned, it was a beautiful summer day.

Going outside to play ladder ball (as we typically all do together at these gatherings) was next on the agenda. This is the point where I officially decided that today was a bad day, despite quality time with loved ones, the good food and the perfect weather (which I should add is a rarity in this town). If you don’t know how to play ladder ball, search YouTube for a video of someone playing. It’s a quick, easy game. Basically, you bend down each turn to pick up the three ball-like things (definitely not the correct term), step forward and toss each one underhand x distance. Based on my level of pain, stiffness and, at this point, irritability, I rationalized that the bending, stepping and swinging of my arm (and let’s not forget the pain, stiffness and cramps in my hands that would make the constant opening, closing and gripping even less desirable) would add to my misery. I made a choice I have never made before – to sit and watch, which only added to my misery. At this point, though I had concluded that playing would cause more misery than watching, so I decided not to suck it up and push through like I typically would, the lesser of the two evils.

As they began I had allowed myself to settle into a dark place internally and invisibly cry about how much today “sucked” and get down on myself. Just like yesterday had been, and the day before that, and probably future days to come. The people I was with, the food, the weather… nothing could save the day (or so I thought). Because I felt too bad to play, this one small detail in an otherwise good day was decidedly enough to make this a bad day. Not even a bad moment or a bad hour, but a bad day in general. Alright, at this point I’m sure you get the message – it was a bad day despite the good and I’m probably sounding like the most self-absorbed, unappreciative person in the world.

As I sat there slipping deeper and deeper into that dark, self-loathing place, something subconsciously changed in me. I do not know how or why, or what triggered it. Suddenly the sun rays got warmer, their laughter got louder and my stomach felt fuller. I started to realize today was anything but a bad day. Sure, I couldn’t play, but was it really that big of a deal? No, it’s the most petty thing I could’ve been upset about that day. I sat there with my loved ones who I cherished deeply, making memories. As my attitude shifted from one extreme to the other, I sat there and began to embrace the moment and the day just as it was, soaking up every sound, every feeling, every possible piece of the memories and joy we were creating that day. On a darker note (the kind I’m preaching to stay away from), I realized I would never get that day back or that same chance to make memories. I realized life goes on and things change and that one day it would be just that – a memory. I want every possible memory to hold onto while I have the chance to make them and experience them.

The truth is, I’m blessed. I’m extremely blessed.

I may have been fighting an infection, but at least I had the resources to fight the infection. I am blessed to have a good job that pays me, which allows me to pay for health insurance and any out-of-pocket medical expenses. Yes, I’m 21 – of course I would rather spend my money on other things and worry about anything else, but I have a job with benefits and the resources I need. Too many people (and in this case even one is too many) go without the medical care they desperately need. Too many people don’t have the medical access, insurance, job or benefits to get the care they need, especially if that requires travel costs, as many do not have local doctors, treatments or expertise that can support their individual needs, even if they have the other required tools and resources for medical access. Traveling, especially when it comes to the frequent visits one might encounter in the grand scheme of medical needs, is expensive, adds up quickly and is too often not covered by benefits or insurance.

This really isn’t about medicine or medical woes though. It’s about finding the good in every moment of every day. As I sat there laughing and making memories, I was – and am – blessed to have the physical support of medicine, doctors, a job, benefits, insurance and a car to get to these places. At this moment and forever, I am blessed with a very devoted, loving and supportive family, friends and loved ones. I am and will always be blessed to know I will probably never have to worry about having a roof over my head, having a warm place to go or knowing when/where my next meal will come from. We need to make a conscious effort when we wake up every morning to say “it’s a good day” and fall asleep every night saying “I had a good day.”

woman with a butterfly tattoo walking barefoot on a path through the woods

If we start realizing the good in every moment, we will start seeing more and more good fill those moments.

Now go put your fight song on, roll up your sleeves, and move on with your good day. Welcome to the “I Had a Good Day” Project. Today I am blessed and today, I had a good day.

This post originally appeared on I Had a Good Day.

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Originally published: February 24, 2017
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