The hardest thing I have yet to do in these 53 years.
A "chronic illness" is something that doesn't go away. There will be better days, there will be worse days. But "it" never goes away. And there is nowhere you can go to get completely away from "it". "It" Becomes at times a terrifying monster that haunts and torments - especially in the dark of night. You know, when most "normal" people are sleeping to get rested.
There is a grief associated with a chronic illness. A loss that we cannot really touch, or see, or smell, or taste. But a loss that we definitely FEEL.
A loss of dreams and plans. A loss of ideas. A loss of purpose and intent. A loss of jobs. A loss of friends. And more often than is readily admitted - a loss of family. All leading to a loss of HOPE - the greatest loss of all.
And when there is such a great loss, there is a great grief. We move through the stages of grief - some of us move more quickly than others. And some of us bounce from the first stage to the last, back to 3rd, again to first, to last, and yet again to 2nd.
We have come to realize that there is no set pattern for grief.
There is no semblance of normalcy in our days or nights either. Oh we may give the "appearance" of normalcy, but believe me when I say - it is an "appearance" ONLY!!!!!
Tears enough to float a boat, to overflow the Mighty Mississippi!
Anger enough to fight back the gates of Hell with a squirt gun!
Frustration enough to drive us to the brink of insanity!
And then ... a morning of quiet acceptance. That THIS is all a part of "IT". A life being lived with a chronic illness.
In a moment of desperation and surrender, there was a prayer. A cry to Jesus. For relief. For an answer. How do I LIVE this life? Not just exist from moment to moment. Not just get thru it all. Not just endure. But how do I LIVE this life???
And yet, all of heaven seemed to be silent.
I opened my Bible to read Words that I have read a thousand times before. Yet, today - today, this moment in time ... a Great Light shines on the Word -- and here is the answer ...
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Put away perversity from your mouth;
Keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
Fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet
And take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
Keep your foot from evil.
Reading these Words slowly, over and over, I begin to feel a HOPE that there is a LIFE within the confines of a chronic illness.
Thank you God - for being there when I needed You the most. For already having the answer - and allowing it to be what I am familiar with. Thank you God!!!!!
--You may wonder what chronic illness I am speaking of. Does it matter? There are so many chronic illnesses in our world today. And not just physical ones. Mental and emotional chronic illnesses. Spiritual chronic illnesses.
In particular to us, tho - kidney disease with renal failure (Rick), neuropathy from diabetes (Rick) and from injury (Rick, Margaret), migraines (Margaret), gout (Rick), gall bladder inflammation (Margaret), cancer (Margaret), Paget's disease (Margaret), arthritis (Rick, Margaret), degenerative disc (Margaret), bone spurs (Rick, Margaret), narrowing of the vertebrae (Rick), congestive heart failure (Rick, Margaret), ED (Rick) ... discouragement, depression.
There are days that all of these seem very quiet and still. Almost non-existent. And then, there are the days that not just one is screaming, but ALL are screaming just as loud!
Rick and I have different ways of looking at all this. Neither one absolute right. Neither one absolute wrong. Different.
And sadly, different does not always mean that we agree to disagree!
There are moments (and days) when the differences are so glaring obvious that we wonder if we can continue even being together. We take a deep breath, we try to just shut up. Just get thru the moment (or the day, or the night). Pray that the chronic illnesses will calm down so that we can look past the end of our noses and actually see what the other one is going thru.
Jesus talked about getting the log out of your own eye before trying to remove the speck from someone else's eye. Makes a lot of sense.
Have you ever had a speck in your eye? A speck of dust? An eyelash? It certainly does not FEEL like a speck! It feels like a LOG of great proportion! Feels like something much, much, much bigger than your eye!!! Oh the pain! The discomfort! The watering of the eye! And then, the relief when you get it out, when the eye has ceased to water, when the soreness is gone. When you can see clearly again!
When one of the many chronic illnesses is on the flare-up ... it becomes that LOG in our eye. It is almost impossible to see around. And how can what the other one is feeling even compare to what we are in that moment feeling???
And it suddenly becomes easy for us to try and tell the other one what to do to remove that tiny, unimportant, speck from their eye.
Lord, forgive us. Lord, help us to do better!!!!!
I am beginning to realize how the enemy uses these chronic illnesses to not only torment us, but to torment one another.
Be sure of this - if in a marriage, a family, or a friendship ... one person has a chronic illness -- we ALL have a chronic illness!!! The only way you don't ALL deal with a chronic illness is if you distance yourself from the one who has received the medical diagnosis. Which may make you feel better (for a time), but be also sure of this -- it does NOT help the one who has received the diagnosis! Because LONELINESS in the midst of a chronic illness is the unseen, silent KILLER!
When the chronic illnesses are on a flare-up in Rick, I want to encourage him, support him, minister to him. And he does me, when they are on the flare-up within me. But for the one who is dealing with the flare-up? It is not easy to accept the encouragement, the support, the ministering. It is actually easier to wallow in the pain and misery. And after just a short time of wallowing, the chronic illness seems to calm a bit, and we get comfortable in the mud and mire and muck. The more comfortable we become, the less we want to get out, and the more we try to get the other one to "come in, the water's fine". Dear God - open our eyes to where we are! Revive the desire, the passion, within us to get up, get out, and move away from the mud hole!
I am also realizing how difficult this becomes on our family and friends. This is not something that we will "get over". We aren't going to "get well". We won't be returning to "our former selves". THIS is life for us now.
It is hard to know what to say ... or what to do. It is easier if others just don't come around, or don't address the issue of "IT". Well, easier for them. But then, it becomes easier and easier to just not call, not visit. So you don't. And there for a time, I didn't understand that. Felt much anger, frustration, and even more loneliness. But now ... well, not that I like the way things are - but hey, I understand better anyway.
We are so limited in what we can do, where we can go. We have such a closed off life at times, even our conversations sound like repeats. So, if someone does not have to deal with a chronically ill person - even a family member, or friend - why would they choose to? Course, we sometimes sit here, crying, wanting to tell you that what we have is NOT contagious!
But there again - the grief. So much like when we lose someone to death. For a short time, others know what to say - I'm so sorry for your loss; or what to do - a gift card, a phone call, a plant, a meal brought. But then, everyone else's life goes back to "normal". And the one who has lost the most, well ... life is no longer "normal". There is a new "normal" to be found.
We are trying to do better. Trying to get out more. Trying to find those things that we can do, places we can go. It's not easy. Our bodies don't always cooperate. And our minds and emotions certainly don't. God, please - help us to find purpose for our life, for our days.
Jesus Calling - from August 22 ...
Trust Me, and don't be afraid. I want you to view trials as exercises designed to develop your trust muscles. You live in the midst of fierce spiritual battles, and fear is one of satan's favorite weapons. When you start to feel afraid, affirm your trust in Me. Speak out loud, if circumstances permit. "Resist the devil in My Name, and he will slink away from you." Refresh yourself in My Holy Presence. Speak or sing praises to Me, and My Face will shine radiantly upon you.
Remember that "there is no condemnation for those who belong to me." You have been judged NOT GUILTY for all eternity. "Trust Me, and don't be afraid; for I am your Strength, Song, and Salvation."