Life never lets me forget its fragility. Sometimes my challenges seem like mountains to be scaled. Adversity has become the elephant in the room; it is ever present even when I refuse to acknowledge it. A few weeks ago, I faced what could potentially have been a medical crisis. I had some routine tests done, and a couple of days later, I received a call telling me that my results were abnormal and I needed to have further exams.
Within seconds everything in my life seemed to change. I imagined the worst-case scenario. I try to occupy the mindset of hoping for the best. However, when we live with chronic illness, we are always waiting for the ax to drop. We feel haunted by the possibility of a new or worsening diagnosis. “What else is going to happen?” I asked myself. I was so upset that I screamed, “I just can’t take anything else.” I have wondered sometimes if things could get any worse. At that moment my inner voice bellowed “Yes!” I have an intense reaction to the words: “things could always be worse;” I’m often offered this phrase as a comfort, yet I find it to be almost offensive. This recent experience made me realize that things can get worse.
The intent of this week’s column is to remind you that this precious and fleeting life can change in the blink of an eye. I want to encourage you to live boldly in the moment because nothing stays the same.
The day I received the call was an emotional roller coaster. I cried, worried, imagined, and prayed. I’ve heard that I can’t profess my faith and worry simultaneously. While this may be true in theory, in practice, I am human and so it was normal for me to feel anxious. I lamented my misfortune for the entire day; then I composed myself for the next day’s hospital visit. I had some tests done and received my results. Thankfully, nothing alarming showed up. I sighed with relief, prayed silently, and my spirit calmed. I have a follow-up appointment in six months. I am anxious about the visit because I understand what follow-ups indicate; I have been getting “follow-ups” my entire life. A part of me wonders when the clock will strike twelve. Then I push those thoughts out of my mind and listen instead to the words I tell others: “Live for today and appreciate this moment.”
Readers of this column will be aware that in addition to MS, I have congenital heart disease. I stand proud as a warrior and survivor. Recalling the challenging moments of my life helps me to realize that I am a fighter. I have written in a previous column that courage is sometimes silent. It rises amid the fear, and silently whispers “you are going to make it.” I cannot foresee my future but I know that I have a purpose. Every beat of my heart solidifies that. I am praying for the strength to continue to tread the tumultuous path of chronic illness and to endure.
As I “follow up” with my MS, heart disease, and other medical issues, my spirit confirms that I am blessed. I am living on borrowed time. My story was “supposed” to end long ago, but I have a greater life plan. Things can indeed get worse, so I will appreciate the good and bask in the mundane. I see everything as joy. Instead of dying a thousand deaths, I will live each day as it comes and pray for peace when my assignment is complete.
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