As every person with health problems does from time to time, I’ve come to the point of throwing a fit. I think this is a natural process that allows you to not be negative all the time. You just suppress your frustration, move forward to the best of your ability with a good attitude, until something sets you off, and you release it all in one long session of pouting, kicking, screaming, etc.
This morning I tried to do some yoga, and I can’t lower down from a pushup position. I can’t do a push up either. I had just worked myself up to 50 pushups for the second time. It takes me 2 or 3 months to get there and then something goes wrong. Yes, of course I am thankful that I’m healthy enough to do it at all, but I’m 30 years old, not 70. My body breaking in a new and creative way every time I try to do something is really wearing me down.
The problem seems to be my back and shoulders. Both of my shoulders hurt, but the right one is so bad I can’t put any pressure on it in a pushup position. I feel like this is somehow related to the bigger POTS picture. For months on end, I suffered from involuntary muscle tightness and muscle contractions. My arms would plaster themselves to my sides, and my shoulders would raise. It would sometimes go on until I started shaking so hard, I looked like I was having a seizure. It could be a magnesium deficiency or a mysterious POTS symptom (or both.)
Whatever caused it, starting to heal my back is making me feel sick. I’m spending time everyday lying on a baseball at the point of one of the knots, trying to work on them a bit each day. It gives me headaches and makes me nauseous. Now I’m walking around feeling fatigued all over again. Not as bad as before of course. But I’m back to feeling sick all of time, in addition to lot of shoulder pain.
My mood seems to cycle. Every time I get a little bit better, I get really excited, but then try to power through to full health. I want to breathe that big sigh of relief that the whole thing is finally over. Then I get to my boxing class, and can’t do a pushup, and have to lay on the floor because my body and breath stopped coordinating with each other. I run into a new wall; this time my knotted back. I know my back has been messed up for a while, but it all locked up so tight that I got used to it and didn’t feel it anymore. Starting to undo all the damage makes you realize just how damaged you are. For intents and purposes, this is as bad as mild to moderate back injury.
Of course I’m happy to be on the path to good health. It takes everyone who is sick a while to find the path, and many with chronic illness haven’t found it yet. For some, it simply doesn’t exist. There comes point however, where you want to stop comparing your wellness with where you were, or where other chronically ill people are. You want to be a part of the rest of the world, and hold your body to the standard of a fully functioning, healthy person. I don’t want to console myself by being thankful that I’m not stuck in bed. I don’t want to count among my blessings the fact that I’m able to drive and walk for more than a few minutes without a walker. Not yet anyway. When I’m fully recovered, I will be thankful for them all. For now however, I’m tired of this chronic illness guilt. I’m currently refusing to submit to the idea that I once had it so bad, (and others still do), that I should be thankful for being in the state I’m in. I remember health, and I want it back.
I think that no matter how sick you are, you’re likely to experience something similar. You go from not being able to leave your house, to being able to go out with a walker or a wheel chair. You’re so thrilled and grateful not to be isolated and shut in to the extent that you were. And then it wears off. You’re frustrated to be so ill that you’re unable to get around for very long, and then you’re also hit with the guilt that you’re no longer grateful. You think “I could still be stuck in bed, but I’m complaining about being fatigued while I’m out with friends.”
Well that does it. I’m declaring official fit throwing week. Well all have the right to wish for perfect health, no matter how bad things have been in the past, and no matter how bad they are for anyone else. To all my chronic illness buddies out there, take a little time now and again to freak out, and know you’re not a shallow or ungrateful person for wanting your health.