Imagine yourself lying on the beach. You are comfortably placed on a towel, and surrounded by beautiful white sand. There is a nice cool breeze, and you can hear the crashing of the ocean. Imagine feeling the nice warm sun against your skin, and hearing the ice rattle around in people’s glasses as they sip nice cool drinks. As you slowly inhale each breath, you smell the salt from the water. You can almost taste the ocean. Relaxed, you allow yourself to take in all the sounds around you. You heart a soft “smack, smack”, in the distance, as a few people play beach volleyball. You also hear the laughter of kids playing and running up and down the beach. With each stride as the kids run, you hear the sprinkle of the sand as it falls back to the beach. Completely relaxed at this point, you begin to drift off to sleep.
Without warning, you’re suddenly startled awake by a loudly slammed door. Confused by where this sound would come from because a beach shouldn’t have doors, you slowly rouse youself. Before you can open your eyes, you notice that the once warm breeze, now feels like an inferno. You are extremly warm, and the heat seems to be radiating from inside of your body. As you feel your body temperature slowly rising, you start to feel short of breath. Concerned at this point, and wondering what happened to your once peaceful beach, you slowly open your eyes. As you open your eyes, you notice an extreme sense of heaviness in your chest. The slow deep breath you took with ease, are not rapid pants. Breathing slowly is completely impossible at this point. As you take rapid shallow breaths, you open your eyes further and realize that the one peaceful beach is now a hot, suffocating coffin. You ask yourself, “OH MY GOD, HOW DID I GET HERE?”
This friends, in my opinion, describes life with chronic illness and pain. One minute you are relaxed and enjoying life, the next minute you are in a situation that once easy routine things are now uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and impossible. Chronic illness and pain is all consuming and suffocating. It LITERALLY takes the air out of you and any room you occupy. Even when you are better, and the illness is a distant memory, it’s visit was so devastating that you are left gun shy and holding your breathe wondering when it will come back. That breathe holding…is the most dangerous part of the battle with chronic illness and pain.
Jordan Sparks once asked, “tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air?” Well friends, you don’t…without air you die. See, it is so easy to allow chronic illness and pain to take away your desire to live and enjoy life. For me personally, that was my situation for a long time. Because of the unpredictability of my illnesses, I was afraid to travel, take jobs, attend events, commit to anything, plan for the future…simply put, live. Shockingly, the unpredictability of my illness also made those around me afraid to live as well. Over the years I have noticed my husband’s reluctance to plan trips, for example, becuase he is so used to them being canceled.
Six months ago I told my husband I wanted to travel to Vegas. As you may recall, it was close to this time last year that I was headed to New York and was hospitalized for a week. Candidly, we are both still bitter about missing that trip, but I digress. Needless to say, when I mentioned Vegas in the summer to my husband, he was not on board. He had a million reasons as to why it was a bad idea, but the biggest reason was that I always manage to get violently sick right before we leave for a trip. Well friends, it’s a new day for a lot of reason.
Remeber when I talked about my trip to the world renowned Mayo Clinic and subsequent remission? Do you also remember last summer when I mentioned my new medication regime…the second chemo med I inject at home? Well, those things, combined with your prayers, encouragement, and warm wishes are the reasons I have been able to live. Yep, I live despite the suffocating presence of chronic illness and pain. See, while this battle with chronic illness and pain is sure to repeatedly take the air out of me, I won’t allow it to take enough of my air to kill me. I also won’t let it make me so fearful that I hold my breath anticipating its next visit…basically afraid to live.
Today friends I type this blog from a plane 40,000 feet in the air. It’s funny, the one thing I always feel is being withheld from me, is the one thing that currently surrounds me. Listen, I am done slowly suffocating under the cloud of chronic illness and pain. Fear kept me from living far too long. The way I see it, if I get sick while traveling, there are hospitals. If I get sick on the plane, worst case scenario I shit my pants. But, either way I am committed to living…and what happens in Vegas supposedly stays here.