Friday, October 21, 2011

#96 - Keep Moving Forward

Dealing with serious illness can make it difficult to move forward. There are times you might suffer through challenges, have setbacks or face insurmountable hardships; you might wonder how you can move forward.

So many people suffer from illnesses and disease that can make them feel as if they have no future or a very narrow future. When you are bed-ridden or confronting physical weakness from a medical condition or a physical challenge from body parts that don't operate as they should, it might not look as if a future is in view to grasp. You might envision a future that you can't imagine grasping.

However, as long as you have the ability to have a future. All of us have daydreams and many of them end up to be our reality. Don't quit dreaming.

There were times when I was so sick that I was coding, but having the ability to pray, to meditate, to daydream about being out of that slick, lumpy hospital bed...that was still a future for me to look forward to. Of course, everything else in life was on hold, but being able to daydream did make being trapped in a hospital bed more bearable. And I did have my turn of being blessed as my daydreams of being in my own room at home became a reality. Such small daydreams can be beautiful, precious blessings for a person who is desperately longing for simplistic things in life, such as to be free of the hospital intercom system blaring every few minutes throughout the night, disturbing your minimally existing peace. Somehow, being confined to bed at home doesn't look so bad, not after you have a new perspective of comparison with being confined to a bed, in a hospital, with a screaming room-mate. An attitude adjustment and a fresh perspective can truly help you to move forward.

I learned to greet my mattress with a smile instead of despondency; I was moving forward.

As my "recovery" began, I found myself slowly beginning to think about the next holiday, the next birthday celebration for a loved one around the corner, an approaching milestone with my children...each time I found myself feeling relief at making the latest event and feeling mentally stronger to confront any challenges that might arise down the road with my health.

I learned to cut back on how long I attended a function. and I learned which ones to push myself over the edge to be a part of and which ones to be content to hear about second-hand; I was learning to move forward with new boundaries.

Being able to make little plans, big plans, tentative plans, any plans is a huge step forward for a person who has been battling with serious health issues.

The only way an otherwise healthy person could probably understand this concept is to think about your mode of have a beautiful birthday party to attend for your best-friend and you walk out to your vehicle to find all four of your brand new tires to suddenly be flat. You don't have a second vehicle available. This party was a good distance away and there is no one nearby that will be going your way for you to attend. You are very upset because you really wanted to be was extremely important to you. But, you realize that you can't do anything without those tires being addressed.

Suddenly, you are unable to be independent and to do as you would like...hop in the car and drive away. What if this happened to you daily? Yes, the pocketbook would be severely impacted and this is exactly what happens to a person or family that faces catastrophic illness in the family. The financial drain is unthinkable. The frustration is unimaginable. The helplessness is unbelievable. The reality can be disheartening.

To be cursed with constant flat tires on a daily or weekly basis is kind of what it is like when you have a serious illness that constantly interrupts your is not convenient, that is for sure. And, a person's body may hit a health predicament that creates unpredictable patterns in their personal world. It's hard to understand how you might feel decent one moment, then the next moment, your tire has gone flat and you are unable to move.

In my situation, I can't even count all of the flat tires I've had. There was a time when I had counted the number of IVs that I'd had inserted into my veins at the hospital, and I finally quit counting at 136. For some reason, that number was the point I decided to quit counting; I lost count after approximately 136 intravenous lines had been put into my body for one reason or another, in places I didn't even know an IV could be inserted. Maybe that was a way for me to keep moving forward, to quit counting.

The key to moving forward with an unpredictable illness is to be flexible and to not beat yourself up when you can't do as you have planned. If you become too wrapped up in missing out, then you really will miss out on life. I learned to tell myself to quit being devastated by the interruptions in my life because of health issues; if I became despondent over missing an important event, then I was allowing even more time in my life to be eaten away by troubles. Instead, I learned to savor the more simple things in life...reading a good book, writing in my journal, sending a hand-written card to a family member or friend to let them know I am thinking about them...I became the family photographer and spent a good deal of my down time with photo editing and uploading to Facebook for sharing.

Do what you can with what you've got.

Finding ways to be content can be a way to combat the difficult times. Learning to cherish the things that seem to persecute you...the silence of being alone so often when confined, the boredom that surely comes with being less mobile...a great way to relieve these problems that come with being very ill is to experiment. If you have never drawn before, SO WHAT? Start drawing. Often, you are battling unvoiced thoughts during serious illness and picking up a pen and a journal of blank pages can be cathartic.

Sometimes, when I felt as if I couldn't write a word, I'd start brainstorming on the page...picking a main word such as "Sickness" and I would doodle all over the page with key words relating to the main word, such as weak, frustrated, trembling, humiliated, dependency and so on. And it helped get out my deepest fears, my hurts and the internal suffering that certainly occurs with any person who feels trapped in their malfunctioning body.

Maybe you can only scribble angry lines, but at least you are getting it out of your system and that means you are moving forward.

For a long time, I could not make long-term plans with such careless abandon as I'd once enjoyed. I had teetered on the brink of life and death so often that I began to feel as if planning anything would jinx my future. It didn't even seem possible for a person to face death so often, but I learned that people do battle illness that are not just presenting a potential life-threatening situation, there are people who have, like myself, actually been embattled in the struggle for life, repeatedly. I had to decide whether or not I wanted to keep up the mental fight. If I had decided to give up, I'm sure that one of my episodes with oncoming cardio-pulmonary shock and fading vitals would have been easier to accept and I might have allowed it to fully engulf me.

I don't necessarily think that a person makes up their mind to survive. "I will survive" kinds of declarations does not guarantee survival. I've been on the very edge of death so often that I've frequently questioned the reason I survived so many touch and go emergencies. Many doctors have told me that they thought I was surely a goner, then I would surprise them, against all odds and make a come-back...however, I don't really think that we have as much control over things as we'd like to believe. Yes, a good, strong mindset of wanting to live definitely helps. But, when you've lived long enough, you begin to see some hard truths in life...there are people who did not fight to live, yet they lived on and on through horrific health storms while others who cherished life and had so much left undone, with a fighting spirit, are whisked away, completely against their will.

The variables in life are immense. Since a strong will to live seems to help us to survive or it at least makes us feel as if we are somehow more in control of being selected for surviving, then fight back. Make it known that you have unfinished business in this life and would like to stay. There's nothing wrong with that. Be happy with your life, but don't be complacent.

I always told the Lord, "If you must take me, then thy will be done, But Lord, you know the true intent of my heart and it is to stay here for as long as I can, as healthy as I can and to be as productive as I can."

Being blessed, I was ready to move forward with the Lord at my Heavenly address or here with my Earthly address. Regardless, I was determined to move forward. Honestly, the earthly address required more hard work on my part, but as my health became more stabilized, I began to look forward to more family functions. I began to incorporate more spontaneous plans into my life...I realized that I should do whatever I wanted at the moment I felt strong enough to do it. I learned to NOT WAIT. Moving forward meant learning how to GRAB THE MOMENT.

I learned to turn around and head home if I didn't feel well. I learned to push myself during the good moments so that I could get as much squeezed out of them as possible, then I learned to accept my down times and not beat myself up as much.

Am I successful every day? Perhaps my idea of success is to simply recognize my body's limitations for the moment and to be aware and compassionate so that I can be the best I can be, as often as possible. Some days I'm a brute to myself, but I don't allow myself to throw a lengthy pity party. And if I do throw myself a pity party, I really prefer going alone.

Being scared is different, admitting you are scared is hard, but that's a tough part of life when you live with roller-coaster health, admitting it when you're scared helps you to keep moving forward instead of it paralyzing you. Never knowing when the next flat tire or blown engine will hit can create tension in your life, but keep going and keep moving forward until the next flat tire appears and the next and the next. Just keep moving forward. Stay strong, and hopefully, in the end, it will have made a difference because you just took another giant leap forward into a bright, sunny spot you've been aching to reach.

Keep moving.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will be posted soon after - having to moderate comments because of some SPAM getting through. So, post your comment, like usual, and I will publish it as soon as possible. blog readers often give me inspiration for subsequent blog posts, so I thank you in advance! Thanks for reading this blog; I'll enjoy reading your comments.