Illness, Life’s Intruder

Before illness (ME/CFS), I had my life lined up, like a shopkeeper perfectly aligning her shelves, ready to get down to business.  One more course and I would be at the top pay scale, qualified to fill many shoes in the education field.  I had landed my dreamed-for job in Special Education, and was starting to sell my individual brand of teaching philosophy.  On the home front, my husband and I had down-sized, talking about retirement, and travel, and the grandchildren were beginning to arrive on the scene filling our lives with sunshine.  Life was sweet as pie.

Illness arrived like a gun-toting intruder, invading my carefully arranged plans and terrorizing our serenity.  In an instant our lives were turned upside down – plans scattered, career aborted – and I found myself physically grounded, disabled.

I would have ranted or raved, or thrown myself into deep depression, but I am too old for all that, old enough to know that with life comes calamity, and I told myself that I have suffered worse, so I just needed to get on with it.

Nevertheless, illness, like any loss, takes its toll, and as with all things unexpected (and unwelcome), it left me stunned, breathless, unable to respond with any sensibility.  So, I researched, rested, resigned myself, and eventually feel as if I turned a corner.

For the moment, the crisis has passed.  I am feeling stronger, or at the very least, more stable.  I feel as if I am standing in the center of my life taking inventory of the damage – mentally noting how widespread the damage is.

In time, I will have to start to sift through the rubble, pick up all the pieces and determine what is salvageable and what is not.  And somewhere along the line, I will have to learn to trust life again, to learn how to live with the knowledge that everything can be violently swept away in an instant,  and yet keep going.

Just one of life’s paradoxes.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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