Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sick Girl

“If you had the choice to have never been sick—the chance to completely remove illness from your entire past, present, and future, would you?” My answers to the hypothetical question vary.

I am the sick girl. I always have been. As my illness progressed, I was exceedingly defined by my limitations. My every move became calculated. I was the friend who could not hang out on a whim. While most girls had purses filled with cosmetics and bubble gum, mine discreetly concealed a plethora of pills and a glucose reader. I was the kid at school who attended one period a day because my body would not allow me to regularly sit in classes like my peers. By college, I was the student with an extensive list of accommodations. On Sundays, I was the member of the church congregation who could not stand during worship service. I was also the significant other viewed as a cheap date, as I could not partake in the typical dinner and a movie and if I did, I ordered from the kid’s menu from a restaurant option I previously deemed safe. There was no spontaneity. All of these descriptions of my person point to a single definition. I am the sick girl. That is what people know me as, but I can be much more.

Many claim that their illness has impacted who they are today. They are better for their illness, so they would not change it. The former does ring true. Chronic illness incites a transformation on not only the body, but the mind and soul. The latter, however, is easy to claim on the other end of hardship—when able to look back with an “I made it” grin and a sigh of relief that the health trials are of the past.  

But I can't. The previous feelings of victory I experienced after recovering from a flare were fleeting. There is no end in sight now waiting over two years for the cessation of my last “flare,” scared to finally admit to the disease progression. With my pain less under control than usual, this condition has encompassed my present and seized my future. Recent accomplishments are slim, as the majority of my day is spent in survival mode on the verge of tears. My feeding tube stoma is causing issues, my small bowel is stuck in an ileus, and the new weakness symptoms I recently developed are wreaking havoc. I have exhausted all of my options nutrition wise.  

Due to the frustration, I occasionally find myself despising those who are healthier. I hate that they live without calculating their every move and make plans without physical hindrances. I am bitter over the fact that they eat without consequence; yet, I failed TPN, the last resort means of nutrition, and am barely holding my own with J tube feedings. I am sometimes even envious of the patients with my diagnosis that have found treatments that work for them because I tried the same medications with an opposite outcome.

I have become increasingly unempathetic, as if another’s problems are petty and do not exceed my own, like their unique battles are inferior and do not cause them sorrow. I do not wish to be filled with anger, nor to seem uncaring. I do not want others to suffer either. It is during these moments that the hardship of my illness has not refined my character positively.

“If you had the choice to have never been sick—the chance to completely remove illness from your entire past, present, and future, would you?”

I would prefer it if my illness had never existed. I ache to return to a time when living did not send my body into a tailspin of symptoms and I could physically live to my fullest potential. I am not better for it. Ask me tomorrow and my answer might be different, but right now, I am just the sick girl. And I don’t want to be.