Before I begin my post I would just like to say to all of you who think I’m a goody two shoes, you should know that I stole all these spoons off of my food trays yesterday (I get clear fluids – so a spoon for jello and a spoon for broth) and hid them in my drawer for the purpose of this picture. And to all of you who now think I’m a pretty bad ass cutlery thief, you should know that I returned all the missing spoons with my breakfast tray this morning.
And I digress…
Today is my five year spooniversary. A spoonie is someone with a chronic illness. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you don’t know what the spoon theory is all about you can click here for more information. (It’s also my little cousin’s 6th birthday today so happy birthday to him!)
October 11, 2009 I woke up with what I thought was just a normal flu, and I have not had a normal or healthy day since. I’ve had good days and stretches, of course, but it’s been five years since I’ve eaten a normal meal, gone a day without nausea, gone a day without medication, and been able to just go throughout my day without having to being conscious of my health.
Last year my spooniversary was a bit of a rough day. It was a Friday, and it also happened to be the Friday of the SFU Science fall convocation, which, had everything gone as planned, would have been my convocation. Instead I was at home with a feeding tube up my nose and down my throat, and stuck in my bedroom while hooked up to 24 hour feeds. I remember thinking next year will be better! Next year on my spooniversary I will be past all this yuck. Next year I will be able to look back and see all the ways my life has improved.
This year I’m in the hospital. And I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been an exceptionally tough week. I have not been feeling well, and I’ve also been dealing with a lot of miscommunication among doctors and other staff. I haven’t felt heard or understood. All in all it’s just been incredibly frustrating, overwhelming and exhausting. It’s ‘next year’ and it’s not exactly better. And I’m not past all this yuck; I am still right in the middle of it. While I am usually full of joy and hope, I have been pretty miserable and I’ve been having a hard time mustering up positive energy.
So instead of dwelling on everything bad that has happened in the last five years, instead of focusing on the nightmare of a year I have had, and instead of thinking about all the ways I’d hoped my life would be different, I’ve decided to celebrate my spooniversary by sharing five good things about my life that have come about because I’ve been sick. One for each year!
1. I have become a really good advocate for myself. I’m a lot better now at asking for what I need and speaking honestly about how I’m feeling. Rather than put on a brave face I know that in order to have a chance at a better quality of life I have to fight for it. It’s a work in progress, but I am slowly figuring out the appropriate balance between my stubborn “I can make it on my own” side and my desperate “this illness is bigger than me” side.
2. I am am much more patient and accepting person. Being a patient requires an incredible amount of patience! Lots of the time your schedule isn’t even your own. You need to see a specialist but you can’t get an appointment for months and months. You show up for an appointment and have to wait two or three hours. You’re in the hospital and you really need to talk to your doctor so you have to stay in your room all day waiting for them to come by. And then there are the 13 hour days in ER. All that waiting is hard, especially when you’re already worn down and sick to begin with, but there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. The nice thing is that all of this waiting has made me a much more patient and accepting person in general.
3. I have met so many wonderful people and had so many meaningful connections with them. I realize that if I was going to school or working full time I would still be meeting a lot of different people and making connections with them, instead, but it’s different. It’s deeper and more honest. There has to be a lot of trust and a lot of respect on the table when you take care of a stranger, or let a stranger take care of you, and that allows for some really honest and real connections to take place.
4. I learned how to crochet! If I hadn’t been taking some time off school and been worried about getting bored, I never would have decided to learn to crochet and now I cannot even imagine what I would do if I didn’t crochet. It’s been so good for my overall well being to have a creative outlet, to have a sense of accomplishment, and to have something that makes me happy but also allows me to make others happy, as well. I’ve had to give up so many things that I loved and that gave me a purpose and an identity, and I’m so grateful that I found crochet to help make up for that loss.
5. Joy. I know I’ve talked about joy before, but I cannot say enough what a difference it can make. Finding joy doesn’t mean you’re avoiding your problems or ignoring a tough reality, it just means that you’re choosing to not let that reality break your spirit and take over your life. There is lot more hardship in my life than there was five years ago, but there is a lot more joy, too.
So there you go. Five good things have that come about from being sick for five years. Honorable mentions: I have acquired a lot of really great pajama pants, and I have a pretty sweet collection of medical supplies now!
And now it’s your turn. After all it is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. I’m not asking you to outright be thankful for the hard times you’ve been through or for the struggles you are currently facing, but try and think of just one good thing that has come out of it all, big or small.
And if you’re feeling really crazy share it with me in the comments below.
Happy spooniversary to me and happy Thanksgiving to you 🙂