One thing no one ever warns you about when you get sick is the possibility you won’t get better. As children we crawl in bed and our parents tuck our hair behind our ears and give us awful tasting medicine and promise it will make us feel better. We may have a few days before that is true, but most of us will come out the other side feeling better and ready to challenge the world in the way only children can.
For whatever reason, this feeling of invincibility takes hold as as we run recklessly through our teenage years, our parents warning words ringing in our ears with each giant leap into the abyss we take. When we land softly, while we may need a day of rest, most of us reach the other side unscathed, ready to leap blindly again.
No one ever tells you that one day you might get sick, very sick, but you won’t feel better after you take your medicine. And while most of us have experienced loss and have cried when someone got ill and left us behind, we rested assured that that is part of life. You take your medicine, you get better, and in rare cases of serious illness, we take comfort that their pain is over.
No one tells you what happens if you get sick and don’t, won’t, and can’t get better. As children we are assured, so as adults we assure ourselves that it will be over soon.
So, no one prepares you for the possibility that one day you will get sick, and even with medicine might not get better, and will spend the rest of your life trying to figure out what to tell yourself now.
I got sick. Not even sick. I never had warning or an ill feeling. I just woke up suddenly unable to walk. And doctors and nurses and my husband held my hand as we tried to figure out why. And when we did, I took my medicine. I still take my medicine. And yet I am still sick. And yet I will be sick forever. I won’t get better in a few days’ time with some rest. I can’t take comfort that my pain will be over soon. I take my medicine with no end in sight, and while remission can happen, it is rare with my form of arthritis.
And so, after a lifetime of knowing medicine will fix me if I get sick, I now have medicine that can only help, but not cure.
And no one tells you that might happen. And no one tells you how often it really does. And no one tells you that you might be young, and still suddenly left to mourn a life you can no longer have. Because that is what happens.
The diagnosis is given, the medications prescribed, and somewhere at the end you are left with who you were and who you are now. You are left with a life you had and the life you must adjust to.
At just 30 years old, having run the Tough Mudder, having worked in a crazy ER, having just begun the life I worked so hard for, I woke up one day and it was gone. And I spent months fighting my own body and and willing my legs to work again. And in the midst of doctor’s visits and medical procedures and tests, who I was silently slipped away. And the pain and the testing and the fighting and medications were in such a forefront of my life that I didn’t even see her go.
And now, nearly a year later, still housebound, still fighting, but walking, I looked In the mirror one day and saw a girl I didn’t recognize, living someone else’s life.