I saw this quote today and it sparked a memory…
I took this photo from the passenger seat of our car one morning on the way to the University Hospital upstate. This shot turned out to be our last trip up although we didn’t know it at the time. We drove up for 3 consecutive days each month so I could get IVIG and solumedrol infusions. The infusions were long (8+hours) and they really made me feel sick. The headaches that I got while sitting in the infusion chair were some of the worst I’ve had. Looking back on that time in my life it was so crazy that for the most part I don’t think I really acknowledged the levity of the situation; just how sick I really was. I went from a walker to a cane so I knew the IVIG was helping me. I was carrying an extra 80+ pounds on me from the steroids and the water retention I battled constantly. I remember being stretched so tight that my legs would actually rip open. In the moment; in all the moments over the years, I think my brain sets itself to daily survival-mode and not really thinking that far into the future of what-ifs and what-could-happens. After this last trip up I got really sick. My brain and spinal chord swelled and I ended up in the hospital
. I ‘woke up’ on the third day there but it turns out I wasn’t sleeping, I was awake but didn’t know it. Big C told me that it was like I was there but not there. So when I ‘woke up’ I was sitting up and suddenly I said, whoa! It’s really bright in here! And he told the nurses I was back. When I think about it, it just seems like a dream to me. And even though it’s scary as hell, it feels like it happened to someone else.
I had a moment when we were driving up and I took this particular shot. I remember it. My first thought was wow, cool shot! Haha! Got it on an iPhone too. 🙂 Then I was thinking ‘this is my life’. I remember that. A sudden burst of reality. I am sick. I’m still me but a whole new different me. A me that gets up at the crack of dawn to drive to a hospital, not to go to work. I’m in the chair. I’m not attending to a patient, I AM the patient. A moment of pure clarity while I aimed my phone at the sunrise.
On that day I was 5 years sick. You’d think I would have realized this already, right? I think with chronic illness comes so many different emotions, constantly changing, that sometimes you don’t know if you’re upside down or right side up. Epiphanies hit you like a brick in the face and then fade away leaving you open and surprised when another moment hits you. You really do find out who you are somewhere in the chronic journey. Whether you like it or not, you’re a fighter.