So we’re a month and a bit into 2019 and I have to say that things are turning a corner.
The shingles appears to finally behind me. My left eye did not come out of the ordeal completely unscathed but the damage is not too critical.
The uveitis also appears to be in the rearview mirror. I finished the Prednisone on Sunday and so far so lucky – no rebound flare.
So yeah, the health problems that dragged me down and put in me in a not great place at the end of 2018 and start of 2019 are now just a memory.
The thing with memories though is that they often leave a scar. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’ve got a few extra scars. The emotional scars that come with a roller coaster of being chronically ill are ones that I don’t think ever go away.
For me, the biggest scar is the fear of the unknown. What will happen next? Does the pain in my chest mean something serious or is it just indigestion? Is the pain in my stomach that wakes me up a blockage or something worse? What about these constant cramps in my calf muscles – is this just fatigue or a sign of something more? What is going to happen as I begin to increase my riding and get back to yoga? Will my body rebel and put me back in bed?
Trust is huge. And this is what I don’t have. I don’t trust my body. This body that I’ve tried to treat with the best care I can give it. A decent diet, no smoking, no drinking, regular sleep, steady exercise habits, and a generous amount of chocolate. It seems like I’m doing it all right – but for some reason my body feels otherwise.
So what do I do to overcome this fear of the unknown so I can rebuild my trust? Good question. I don’t know. All I can do, I suppose is just keep on keeping on. I’m getting pretty good at picking myself up. So this is what I’ll do the next time. And yes, I do believe there will be a next time.
What I can do is remember that today is a good day. That yesterday was a good day. And that there is a high likelihood tomorrow will be a good day. This way I can keep up the hope and slowly rebuild myself.
Admittedly, I feel this is all a bit self-centred. I am, after all not dealing with a diagnosis that sees me counting my days and months.
Last week Paul Dewar died. I did not know Mr. Dewar. However, the words posted on his Facebook page after his death from Grade 4 glioblastoma, have imprinted on me:
It is easy sometimes to feel overwhelmed by the gravity of the challenges we face. Issues like climate change, forced migration and the threat posed by nuclear weapons. It’s hard to know how to make a difference.
The secret is not to focus on how to solve the problem, but concentrate on what you can contribute – to your country, your community and neighbours.
I urge you to read Mr. Dewar’s full post and think about how you are making a difference.
I think it’s important to remember that the difference Mr. Dewar speaks of doesn’t need to be earth-changing. The small acts that you do each day when you interact with your family, friends, colleagues, and strangers are the ones that really make a difference.
Talking to a stranger as you stand waiting for the bus. Asking someone who looks sad if they’re okay. Picking up the phone and calling your friends just to chat. Remembering that everyone is dealing with something. Know that the little things do add up.
Not to leave this post on a sad note, I want you to think of these words left to us by two young women who recently died:
I decided not to spend whatever time I had left (whether it’s a year, a month, another ten years—you don’t know until you’re gone) lamenting all the things that weren’t right. Instead, I’d make the most of it. I’m using cancer as the excuse I needed to actually go and get things done, and the more people I share those thoughts with, the more I hold myself to them. If I write this intention down, if I have it printed somewhere like I do here, I have to hold myself responsible, because I have people counting on me.
What is my intention? To live my life. To fulfill all those genuine dreams I have.
…” Fatima Ali, who died in January at the age of 29 from cancer
Live while you’re living, friends.
We control the effort we put into living.
…” From The Unwinding of the Miracle, A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After by Julie Yip-Williams
So now what? What do I do next? What do you do next?
For me – I talk to the strangers, I pick up the phone, I eat the cake and don’t worry about the calories, I plan for the future, I offer help, I listen, I keep on setting goals and doing all the things I long to do.
I owe this to myself. I owe this to you. I owe this to the people who can’t do what I can.