Stumbling Start

“How do you feel about everything that is happening?”  my therapist asked me, last visit. 

“Good,”  I responded, without hesitation.  “I feel as if I’m breaking down barriers:  embracing life and possibility, despite my illness.”

Yesterday, I promised to rest, but there were boxes in the way, and nowhere to sit, so I unpacked one, then decided to clean the bathroom, and then my sister called to say they were dropping by, so I unpacked another and stacked the rest out of the way to make room to sit.  Then I tackled the outside, tidying up as best I could and dragging out the lawn furniture.

“Illness doesn’t go away,” she reminded me gently; “but you are choosing not to let it define you.  Do you think you’ll be able to handle it?”

“I am looking forward to the autonomy – not having to depend on help all the time.”

I ignored dizziness, racing heart, a mounting headache, and pushed on.  This venture is about independence, after all, I told myself.  I need to be able to do it all.

“It will not be without challenges,” she added.  “You will need to establish a new rhythm, not just for yourself but for your marriage.”

Later, when Ric asked if I wanted to go for ice cream, I ignored the mounting fatigue and said yes.  The need to celebrate our transition outweighed physical health.

“Yes,” I agreed, “and my experience of life is that nothing changes unless you are willing to shake it up.  I feel like we are grabbing hold of the helm and charting new waters.  It will be good for us.”

This morning, the fight is gone out of me.  It is nearing noon, and still my body clings to sleep.  I managed to stumble to the counter and make a tea, but am back in bed.  That short journey caused me to sweat.

She hadn’t said it, but I saw it in her eyes as we bade our farewells:  “Take care of yourself.  Enjoy the adventure, but remember to do so with a modicum of restraint; ME/CFS is a real disease, and like many issues that plague us, will not be outrun.”

(Image is another from Ric’s collection of sunset shots:  Lake Huron, Ontario)


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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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