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When Remission Feels Like a Waiting Game

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Remission is such a bittersweet experience to go through. It can come on like a nice surprise, suddenly and without any warning. Or it can come after days, weeks, or years of searching for some type of relief. You may not know what to think once it finally happens to you. You may be in denial and thinking, “I guess that I’m just having a good day today,” or you may feel like you finally deserve it. Although what many people don’t understand is that remission isn’t just relaxing and peaceful like people try to make it seem, it’s also a waiting game. And you have to be prepared every day for the sweet bliss that you have to be taken away from you once again.

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On the positive side, you’re in remission! Congratulations, go and live your life and enjoy yourself. Your energy levels are back up and your pain and fatigue levels may be all the way down. Other than the scars and memories, it’s like you were never even sick in the first place. Your friends and family are happy to see you back normal and healthy again. They’re over the moon and so happy because they feel like they got the old you back. Go hiking, go to parties, stay out late with friends, make new memories, try things that you never normally would, do anything and everything that your heart desires since your body isn’t holding you back anymore. Live every single day to the fullest and enjoy every second of it.

Remission may not last forever and it could bring you and the people who care about you most some heartbreak. You understand that it may be temporary, and know how to prepare, but friends and family often just don’t get it. No matter how hard you try to explain it to them they respond with something optimistic and hopeful such as, “Well, not with that attitude it won’t,” or, “You can’t think like that, the mind can heal the body,” or something along those lines. Eventually you just decide that it’s easier to just let them think that some miracle happened and that you’re cured forever because ignorance is bliss. Let them think that you’re going to live a long, happy, and healthy life where you get married and have lots of healthy kids. You know that you need to prepare yourself for the inevitable relapse, but you also need to be prepared to comfort everyone else. It’s not fair that you have to be the one to comfort everyone, but unfortunately that’s just how remission works. For some, it’s not a break, it’s just a waiting game because you never know how long it’s going to last – it could be a few weeks or it could be a few years. But no matter what you will always be watching for symptoms of your relapse.

There are multiple ways that a relapse can set in. Sometimes it will happen suddenly, all of your symptoms come back at once full force. You go to bed one night perfectly fine and then you wake up feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck. That is when you know that your sweet taste of bliss and healthiness is gone. A relapse can also set in slowly over a period of time, which some will argue is the worse way for it to happen. It creeps up on you slowly and there’s nothing that you can do about it. You try to convince yourself that the symptoms that you’re feeling are just because you overdid it the day before or that maybe you’re just catching a cold or flu. You spend so much time trying to convince yourself that you’re not falling back into your illness, even though you know deep in your heart and in the back of your mind that this is it. You begin to feel your body beginning to give up on you again, you don’t know if it’ll take a few days or a few weeks but you know that you’re going to relapse.

The taste of a normal life that you had gotten used to is gone just like that. It’s almost like it never happened. Your days will be filled with medications, doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, and medical equipment once again. It’s time to settle back into your normal life, your fairytale is done. No matter how much you prepare yourself and how much you’re expecting it, you’re never fully ready for your body to fail you again. But hopefully you were able to get the most out of the time that you had and made a ton of amazing memories that you can hold on to.

Being in remission is not getting a break from your illnesses. You still have to take care of yourself like you’re sick, because you are. It may be easier for a while, but it’s a fight that you will have to continue to fight every day. Chronic illness is a monster who shows no mercy, it’s a monster that you have to fight every single day. Hopefully you’ll soon be in remission again and getting to live your life to the fullest. But until then, you have to fight every day like your life depends on it because in the end, it does.

Gettyimage by: Milkos

Originally published: February 1, 2018
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