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The Aftermath That's Left Behind After an Intense Flare

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The flare is over, but the recovery has just begun. While I feel victorious, I grapple with understanding the aftermath.

Just like in war, we tell the stories of battle and record them carefully in history books. The aftermath though, is often left unwritten once the bombs stop dropping, people stop dying and the fires are out.

The aftermath of a flare feels very much the same. The fever is gone, the inflammation attacking my insides and joints has subsided.

After war, I imagine the burned down buildings, grieving families, the devastated economy. How overwhelming it must all be.

So why should it be any different for my body? Post-flare, my lower abdomen goes from feeling like it’s on the verge of splitting open and overflowing with acid, to an intense nauseous hunger. My intestines churn through piercing pain, trying to “evacuate” and recover.

My joints ache now from the sudden deflation; my muscles get large knots. The fatigue is overwhelming — no wonder, since I’ve been fighting my body fighting my body for days.

Yet, somehow I judge my pain as weakness, and the stiffness and fatigue as laziness. I focus on the story of the battle, versus the wreckage the battle left behind.

Hypocritically, I wear my wounds from the last impact proudly: the irrecoverable losses to my hearing and balance. The scar tissue built up in my abdomen that requires yet another surgery.

Perhaps because these are tangible and forever written into my history, rather than just the regular old flare recovery, which tends to be vague and transient.

I’ve spent the last year learning to not judge myself after the flare is over. When the invading forces have left, they leave behind their destruction.

I’ve also realized that sometimes I prefer to view the post-flare times as weakness and laziness because it’s easier mentally to not recognize the price my body plays during the flare.

It’s easier to not think of what sounds I’ll find out months later will never recover. It’s easier to think that the flares leave without lasting consequence.

If I linger on the lasting devastation my systemic auto-inflammatory disease can cause, I then have to face my own mortality — that I will never be the same as before my war began.

So, I’m learning to love and nurture myself by honoring the consequence. Self-love also stokes the fire to push for treatment and ideally remission. By accepting the entirety of consequence of my war with my disease, I also can begin to understand the need for peace.

Originally published: May 30, 2019
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