Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Painting- Chronic Storms - Chronic Sunshine

Chronic Storms - Chronic Sunshine

After years of struggling with chronic illness I have come to realize, not only the physical toll illness takes on your body, but also the emotional toll it takes on a person. Over the years, for me, it seems the emotional toll is much more complex than the physical symptoms I must deal with on a daily basis. Just writing this is an extremely emotional process.
With the physical toll I experience symptoms such as pain, extreme fatigue, weakness, vision problems, migraines, swallowing problems, shortness of breathe, and the going in and out of these symptoms at any given moment of each and every day. Waking up every day not knowing what I will be hit with on that particular day, accepting each of them as they slap you upside the head. Illness doesn't care if you have special plans for the day or that you may be in the middle of something and one of your symptoms decides to show its ugly face. Fortunately, today with so many medical advances and new medications available, physical symptoms in many cases can be controlled to some degree which help make life at least somewhat bearable.

With the emotional side of chronic illness the treatment is a little different. Many times, you, as the person facing the illness must deal with this issue on your own. It can be hard to find others who experience what you experience and it is very hard to find healthy people who really care enough to hear about your emotional struggle. Many times the healthy want to "fix" you or want to give you advice, when really all you need is for them to listen. Plain and simple, just listen. Even then it is very hard for people to do just that. Some will listen but few understand. Many times the listening turns into pity and that is exactly what a we do not need or want! In turn this just shuts you up and inevitiability you are forced to live in your own little bubble trying to deal with all the questions you have. Trying to process it all on a daily basis and never really finding any solutions as to why this is happening to you.

I have always dubbed the chronically ill person, "The Great Pretender" because that is absolutely who you become. When the question comes up, "how are you doing?" the answer is always, "fine." Just answering, "fine" makes it easier for me and much easier on the person asking. Very few people understand my answer of "fine" and what lies behind it. Plus, most figure you really are. Then, here it comes, within a matter of seconds, "Well, you sure do look good. " Almost as if to say, you can't really be sick if you look that good. I always laugh and say thanks, but think to myself well, if you saw me before the two hours it took me to get myself to this point I can almost guarantee you that you wouldn't be telling me I look good. Make up, hair, and cloths can turn a rat into a kitten.

Another funny thing I notice is some people think because you have become ill you are not the same person you were before the illness. In some repects that is true, you aren't. But deep inside you, in your soul, you are the same person God created you to be, that will never change. It is just that your body has turned against you and you have to deal with it everyday. Instead of your mind controlling what you can and can't do your body does it for you. Simple! You fight this for some time after becoming ill and then finally you start to give into it and just say ok you really ARE in charge. It really makes it so much easier to just surrender. The emotional tug of war can be brutal. Funny thing too is that once you come to grips with the way you must live now, other people do too. In most instances anyways.

All of this brings me to my painting which depicts the daily, hourly, moment by moment struggle of living with a chronic illness. You are constantly in a different part of my painting at any given moment. The sun may be shining bright and you feel great, whatever great is for you, and just like that WHAM in the matter of a span of a second, you are in the middle of a thunderstorm fighting to get out of it. Lighting flashes of pain attacking your body, or weakness that forces you to the ground, however it is your body decides to attack you. Other days you may be in the gray area, not feeling your best, but not feeling your worst either, this is how most of my days are now. Things are just ok but you are fine with that. It is what you get for the day and you embrace it. You may be able to the things you have to do with no energy left to do anything beyond that. Your social life becomes very limited so you enjoy every breathing moments you have with the people you love because who knows what tomorrow brings. My favorite moments!

You learn to live day to day no matter where you are on the painting. You hang onto the hope, the rainbow, that things will get better and someday you will be cured. We all must keep the hope! If there were no hope there would be no living, chronically ill or not.

Through all of this I have learned that I am a very blessed person! I have a husband who would go to the ends of the earth and back for me to help/make me feel better. Rich has sacrificed more for me than any other person on this earth. I adore him. He has showed me a love I never thought possible given out by another human being. I see the pain and worry in his face whenever I am very ill. It pains me more than the illness. My parents have been wonderful, always helping out when I let them or when I tell them I am not doing well.  Our kids are amazing. They remind me life must go on and give me a reason to live my painting. Of course, Hunter and Addi no words need to be written when it comes to them except pure love, unconditional love, that puts the air in my lungs. Then there are those few select friends who can still handle the illness as it hits. I owe you all more than I could ever repay you except with my love! Your love enlightens me!
Now I've got to go live my painting, I hope you live your paining too, whatever it may look like in your life! We all have a painting that is the beauty of each of us as an individual!

God Bless!

Chronic Storms, Chronic Sunshine

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