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How Muscle Dysfunction Helps Me Appreciate the Little Moments

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I’ve been dealing with chronic muscle dysfunction for a third of my life. While I had 21 healthy, active years, it is hard to remember what normal feels like. If I close my eyes and think back, it is nearly impossible to imagine what it felt like before my muscle strength diminished and my pain began. If I could go back and live just one more day as a healthy being, I would savor the feeling of weightlessness, of my body moving effortlessly and freely. I would carelessly run through a field of flowers for hours on end.

I spent my 20s learning how to be an adult while adjusting to life without full muscle capacity. Initially, I was in a state of shock; I went from a healthy child to a debilitated adult in a short period of time. I quickly learned that people will drift out of your life when you’re being weighed down by illness, revealing the people who truly care. I had to adjust my mindset to thinking about what I am capable of doing in a day rather than doing as I please in the moment.

After a decade of struggling with muscle disease, I had changed in more ways than I could have foreseen. The simple things in life bring the largest smile to my face. What may be a typical day for someone else now has so much more meaning in my life with chronic illness. When I can physically take my kids to the playground, it is a wonderful day. I am still the same person, but I can now see beauty in places I had overlooked before. And don’t get me wrong, I still have the dreadful days of self-pity when I’m extremely weak, but they make the good days that much better.

So thank you, weakened muscles. Thank you for making my life complicated and challenging. I accept this challenge and I will fight on through the peaks and valleys of this illness. And thanks to you, I can feel simple beauty as it arises in my day-to-day routine. I can truly say I am thankful to be alive when I wake up each morning.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: November 7, 2016
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