I have been sick for three years.
Pained, tired, panicked and broke, I have been in three hospitals, met with a dozen doctors, had two MRIs and four CT Scans, and could likely complete my own blood work more proficiently than the nurse. I have been called a liar and accused of medicated dependencies. I have lost most of my hair and feel unattractive every day. And today, my illness remains undiagnosed and my fear remains vigilant and constant.
This is the story of many people suffering from chronic pain or illness. This is my story.
Some days are beautiful: pain free, filled with productivity and an empathy towards those less fortunate. And in depressingly short supply. I haven’t learned yet how to live well with chronic illness, so the good days pass quickly, and the bad days settle over me like a soft and choking darkness. And I’m bitter. In my weakness, I have wished this on others if it means my own freedom from it and, afterwards, felt washed with guilt. On these days, I’m not proud. I feel broken and lost.
But the good days…. those are magic. I feel complete, an active participant in life, looking forward, and not from inside a bubble of sickness. I create things I never thought I could create, and I breathe into those things all my health and none of my scars. And because of that, my creativity lacks something fundamental. It lacks the hollowness that is now as much a part of me as the surprise and the happiness and the positive, flickering energies. Creativity should be the sum of me, and not only the best parts.
I have a chronic illness, but I am not my illness, and I will not be a victim to my body. I will have bad days, many perhaps. And I will put those scars into my work, the same as my positivity. Perhaps my work will suffer for it. Perhaps it will become an entirely new creature, breathing a ferocious will out into the world. Perhaps, on the surface, nothing will change besides my ability to let go of the pain. But today, I make the conscious decision to live better. To live the best I can, even on the worst of days. To allow the bitterness in, and then push it back out when I’m done. And when those bad days pour in for weeks or months at a time, I will not be afraid to release them into my work, and take back my life.
Who knows. Though I have been sick for three years, and my illness remains undiagnosed, perhaps the decision to live despite it is a healing of its own.