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Considering My Future When Living With a Life-Threatening Illness

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I was sitting in the hot tub with my sister at the hotel pool. And even though it was horrible manners, I couldn’t stop staring at the pregnant lady at the pool across from me, noticing her adorably swollen stomach peeking out from under her swimsuit. Her round face seemed to be glowing, her adoring husband helping her into the pool and her adorable probably 3 year old daughter (who looked just like a mini  version of “Luna Lovegood”) glued to her side.

I impolitely stared at this stranger, admiring every little detail I could see about her life. Fully knowing I will never know a strangers story. Then I compared her to myself. I put my hands around my permanently swollen belly, quickly felt my swollen cheeks caused by the ever so flattering symptom of prednisone nicknamed “moon face.” I reflected on  the harsh reality of how I was starting oral chemo for my progressive autoimmune disease the next day.

And I wondered, will I ever be this stranger I can’t help but stare at? I mean thanks to gastroparesis and prednisone, I’ve been mistaken for a pregnant lady more times then I will care to admit. But my body isn’t showing signs I’m giving life, but trying to preserve mine.

Will I ever be her? Will this body that can barely keep me alive, be able to bring a little human into the world that has my eyes, and my future husband’s smile?
Can I even take the medication that keeps me alive if I get pregnant? If I have a child, will I live long enough to be more than a memory to them? Heck, will I ever be able to get rid of the fear of commitment my illness has given me, and meet the man who I’d love so much I’d want to bring life into this terrifying world with him?

What if I have a child and they have my disease(s)? If I can’t have kids, do they let “medically unstable” people adopt or be foster parents? What if my health never improves? What if it just gets worse? Would I even be able to take care of a child? Would my future spouse resent me if I am unable to carry a child?

As I pondered these questions in my head I’ve tried to hard to avoid, because I knew the pain they would cause, I felt the the uncertainty to the answers to these questions. And it caused this primal ache in my soul. I felt myself wanting, craving something I don’t know if I can have. But I don’t necessarily know if I can’t.

And I can’t make this pain better. I can’t answer these tough questions. I can’t just remove life-threatening auto immune diseases and immune deficiencies from my DNA. I guess all I can do is pray. Pray that as I stare at one murky part of my life’s picture, God sees the whole painting. And no matter what the answer to those questions may be, that picture, my life, will still be something beautiful in the end. When no answers can be found, all you can do is trust
that one day, even if you are never the adorable pregnant lady, even if your whole life is spent preserving your life instead of giving it, even the deepest of pains will make sense in the grand scheme of it all.

Getty image by AscentXmedia

Originally published: December 11, 2021
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