How to Live Life in Spite of Chronic Pain and Fatigue
How do you explain chronic, debilitating fatigue to a world that wakes up well-rested? How do you explain sickness and limitations being the norm to a people who’ve only known health and limitless living?
I remember (quite woefully, now) before the hostile takeover when sickness was still something I could hide, push beyond for the most part, I had a friend with many physical battles. She was often tired and in pain when I saw her, too sick to engage in the activities and relationships she longed to. I wondered why she didn’t try harder, why if I could push beyond my sickness, she could not. What an utter fool I was.
Not long ago, I took my oldest son and my five-year-old daughter on an outing that was important to them. I was sans husband, in the heat, and in the throes of infection. Sounds like a recipe for success, right? Yet, I was doing it! My son was off with his lady friend, my daughter and I were having a grand ole’ time. She was enamored with a moving Star Wars character in a store as I gazed at her adoringly when a woman spoke.
The blue-shirted store employee said, “You look so tired, Mom.” I was caught off-guard by this comment, deflated. It left me feeling naked and exposed. Of course, I was tired. What was I supposed to say? Did she want me to tell her about my 49948650780569875098605968 diseases? Should I say I had just been to the specialist today where he had informed me he was almost certain I had a bleeding ulcer and we needed to schedule an endoscopy as soon as possible? Did she want to hear about my current UTI? I settled on, “Do I?” She responded with,” Yes. You look like you’ve had the longest day of your life and you have nothing else to give. “ What would she say if I told her I actually woke up feeling that way every single day of my life? Would she understand it didn’t mean anything? Would she grasp there are still events to attend, kids to love, needs to be met no matter how you wake up feeling?
“I’m probably always tired.” (understatement of a lifetime) “I’m sorry to hear that. You look really rough. I worry about you. I hope you all have a nice night.”
I ushered my girl out of the store, away from the knowing eyes of the employee.
My sweet girl asked me, “Mommy, why are you always so tired?” I have answered this question no less than a thousand times in her short life. I’ve given her the long answer about immune systems and disease and the short one, like I did that night, “because, baby, fighting hard for a long time is exhausting.”
If working an eight shift sounds like a Herculean feat you can’t wrap your brain around completing, or if the thought of a full day at the theme park in the heat gives you tremors, I understand. If you can’t remember the last time you made it through a day without taking a nap, or two or three, we’re eye to eye.
If, like me, you’re still trying to get in as much living in as you can in between naps, no matter how many people call you out at the store, cheers to you.We may not stop being tired or in pain, but we don’t have to stop living. Click To Tweet
Let’s do it anyway.
Our plans may be delayed twelve times. Our grand ideas may well be downsized. Adapting our expectations and searching for the pockets beauty may be the only way we make it through the darkest days, but I believe an abundant life can still be found. Right here, amongst the seemingly impossible.