How living with chronic illness is helping me grow.
I’ve known something wasn’t right with my health for the past 20 years. I felt ill (dizzy, heart palpitations, anxious, bouts of weakness, heat intolerance…) but functioned fairly well. Doctors couldn’t pinpoint the cause and anxiety was blamed. On the outside, I was thriving as a mother, wife, PR strategist, church member, and friend. My biggest concern was an overbooked schedule.
Shortly after my 40th birthday, everything changed. Overnight, I went from jogging two miles a day to being bed bound and needing a wheelchair. I could no longer stand long enough to make meals or even shower myself. I was weak, dizzy, and often confused. I had no idea what was going on and I was terrified. With a lot of persistance and the help of compassionate and dedicated doctors, it was discovered that I have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a form of dysautonomia. Basically, my autonomic nervous system no longer regulates my automatic body functions well. This includes my blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. While debilitating and incurable, this illness is not fatal. It is something I can live with and hopefully learn to thrive with.
I have good and bad days, healthy seasons, and periods of flare ups. Every day I am learning more about how to care for my new body and how to protect and grow my spirit through this battle. Believe you me, when you become trapped in a body that no longer works; your spirit has to fight to stay positive, sane, and find the light in every day.
Along this journey, I am learning that we can discover the best parts of ourselves while being ill. It’s in these moments that we go deeper into what matters and what doesn’t, who we want to be, and who we want to be with. The best way I can describe it is that you live with the shadow of death. You know how after a loved one passes away, you have this period of clarity where you’re better able to prioritize what matters? That’s what living with illness is like.
Chronic illness is a teacher—for those who are sick and everyone who loves them. It’s not the teacher I would have chosen, but it’s the teacher I have.
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