Well… Today went exactly according to plan. I cleaned the van, did laundry, made lunch, did more laundry, worked on my blog and made dinner. Wow! Maybe we really are settling into a routine! That would be so wonderful!
This evening I was thinking about how amazing it is that I can actually do all of this work. Not just because it means that my body is finally healing but also because it’s so good for my heart to finally be able to do something helpful.
I was helpless and completely dependent for so long. I remember when I had to call for help just to get to the bathroom. My legs were so weak that Brett actually had to help me lower myself onto the toilet. I remember when I had to be carried out to the car and pushed to the doctor’s office in a wheelchair.
I remember when I couldn’t shower on my own. My mom would wash my hair in a bedside shower and Brett would help me wash my body in the bath.
I remember when I had to text my mom to ask her to bring me food. She even had help me sit up in bed and prop me up with a pillow so that I could eat. I remember when Brett had to come running with my “throw-up bucket” when I started gagging an hour or two later.
I even remember a few times when Brett had to brush my teeth for me and one time when I had to wear adult diapers for a couple days.
That kind of utter helplessness can definitely do a number on a person’s dignity. It can make you feel like you’re nothing more than a burden. Even when your caregivers are glad to do it, deep down, you know that it wears at them day after day. Even when your heart is full of gratitude towards them, it just never feels like enough. You can say “thank you” over and over but what good is it when you’re too sick to give anything in return?
I think one of the hardest parts about severe chronic illness is losing your ability to give… your ability to contribute something useful and valuable to the people you love. I know there were moments when I felt as though my life was pointless… And maybe more trouble than it was worth? It was a gut wrenching place to be.
Thankfully, the constant emergencies kept me from dwelling on that question too much. I just needed to focus on how I was going to survive the next minute. I could worry about the big questions later.
It was brutal. I don’t know how I made it through that. Yet somehow…. just like the difficulty of biking uphill made the ride down so much more thrilling… so these experiences (that I never want to relive again) are making all the laundry and cooking so much more wonderful.
It’s not that I always enjoy doing it. Sometimes, I feel completely overwhelmed by how much work it takes just to stay alive in the wilderness and have clean uncontaminated clothes to wear.
But I can’t deny how grateful I am that I can actually do something that helps us and makes our lives better. I can wash the laundry and cook dinner so that Brett doesn’t have to. And because he’s not having to worry about whether we’re going to have clothes to wear or food to eat, he can finally focus on growing his business and make a living for us.
It’s amazing he was able to provide for us at all when he could barely give his work a fifth of his time and energy. How frustrating it must have been to know he couldn’t really do his best because he simply didn’t have the time or mental bandwidth.
It makes me so happy to see him making so much progress now! I love it! It keeps me going in those moments when my body starts complaining, No way! I am not carrying this tub full of water! It’s too heavy!
I can just reply, It’s okay…. I know you’ve been through a lot. It’s left you really weak which means carrying this is really, really hard. But you can do it. It will get easier as you get stronger.
So, I do it anyway, take breaks when I need to and maybe even drop the tub on my foot, all the while trusting that it will get easier as my muscles get stronger.
I guess I didn’t spend 10 years in ballet training for nothing. 🙂
By the way, Brett and I made a beautiful PDF of my favorite resources for suffering souls. I created the content and he made it look fancy with his superduper graphic design skills. It’s available for free to my email subscribers. Click here to sign up and receive 5 Resources for the Suffering Soul.