Inside of all of us, we are weathering a storm. Every day we wake up and we battle something. We battle ourselves, we battle our jobs, we battle people around us. We survive. If we're lucky, we find a way to thrive.
In addition, we all have something that provides escape and shelter from whatever storm is raging. A reprieve from the constant head-wind and bulleting rain.
We are all broken-hearted, beaten down, and lost. If not constantly, then intermittently. But I would venture to say that anyone who feels is broken.
Go through it not around it.
Take the storm head on in battle. Obsessive despair is endlessly inventive--it has a genius for knowing what a sufferer least wants to hear. Its like being trapped in a box with a loudspeaker that amplifies your own voice, continuously broadcasting your shortcomings. Make it shut up. Live with it, deal with it, and eventually the storm becomes cloud covering. It becomes a sunny day with a slight chance of rain.
Most days, I don't think about my Crohn's. Most days I get to be well and happy and full of energy. And then there are days where I am constantly reminded of limitations. Not necessarily physically prompted, but my mind goes into hyperdrive. I go into defense mode--nothing in, nothing out. Stop contributing.
Only when I am reminded that I am sick, am I sick. Only when reminded, do I let myself believe that I'm sick. So, all of the routine tests and treatments--I'm sick.
Someone from Vanderbilt called tonight and my heart almost stopped beating. They were only calling to do a survey about my last MRE, but in the 20 seconds it took for me to actually pick up the phone, I had convinced myself that they had read the scan wrong and there was something very wrong.
This reaction, of course, was only because of my anxiety about my Remicade on Friday. I'm already on high alert.
Truthfully, Remicade is not a stresser for me. It is, however, a reminder.
It is also the single most humbling experience I have on a regular basis. The people I sit with are weathering much rougher storms than I. They are doing chemo, treatment for nerve degeneration, blood transfusions, etc. I've never sat with anyone my own age, with my young body resilience.
When I first started going to treatment, about a year ago, my mom would come with me and sit in this tiny chair in the corner for the 4-5 hours that it took. Eventually, she figured I could go on my own. The first time I came in without her, my nurse, Mina, said, "She finally trusts us enough?"
Yes, I guess that's what it was. I didn't realize it at the time, but when Mom was there with me, I was really sick. I was weak. And we had no clue what this treatment was going to do to me or for me.
Mina calls herself my mom. She takes care of me every time I go for treatment at the IV infusion center. She gives me my IV, injects my steroids, takes my blood to the lab. She covers me up in a blanket when I fall asleep from the medicine. She takes my temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen levels every 30 minutes and never wakes me up. She shows me pictures of her kids (she has a son my age), makes sure that I'm being a responsible adult, and asks me real questions besides the medical ones. All of the other nurses know that I am Mina's.
Mina is a weathering the storm pro. When she met me, when I met her, I was in bad condition. The doctors were trying everything to avoid a second surgery, but I had a camera pill stuck in my small intestines (that had been lodging for about 30 days at that point). I couldn't keep food down, I was heavily medicated, and Remicade was a last ditch effort to lessen inflammation. Mina has seen much worse.
To her, I am a normal, healthy 25 year old. To me, I'm the same: normal, healthy. I think that's why I like her. She is one of the many medical professionals I deal with who actually treats me like I'm going to live a long life.
People like Mina mend broken hearts. She doesn't pretend like it isn't real. She doesn't ignore it. But she gives it no credit. She doesn't let it define me, and she makes me feel like I don't have to either.
The storm doesn't have to define me. It can tear through my heart and beat me down, but I can rebound with spirit. I can find a way to drag myself from the destruction and back into whatever normal is. And normal is so different now than it was before. Normal will be different next week, month, year, too.
Everything will change again. It all cycles through. Beaten-down, torn apart, hopeful, happy, raining, sunny, sad.
Find the reprieve.