When life takes the wind out of your sails, it is to test you at the oars. ~Robert Brault
I woke up.
I realized that I wasn't in agonizing pain.
And that I had slept more than three or so hours in one night.
I felt so blessed.
Life has been quite the struggle lately since I got back from vacation three weeks ago. It started with a nasty autoimmune flare up (worse one in probably over a year) within twenty-four hours of returning home and got more complicated when I ended up in the emergency room with painful ovarian cysts, one of which had ruptured. Add in a very uncooperative and inattentive gynecologist, side effects from pain medications and steroids, as well as some serious hormonal changes from the cysts and well, you get the picture. Not pretty.
Not pretty. That is life sometimes, right?
I was also becoming frustrated because September was here. The beginning of my favorite time of year. So many things I wanted to accomplish and enjoy that were being put on hold. The Big E (huge fair here in New England), painting the house, decorating for fall, working taco salads with my church family, long foliage walks with my dog, writing workshops, King Richard's Faire, trying to make a new career out of writing, the list goes on and on! I didn't want to be hitting a wall now, however temporary it may be.
And that I did. I didn't wake up feeling perfect this morning. Still some pain, still much more tired than I usually am, but I knew the worse was over this time around and that I was rapidly headed towards the other side of this crisis. I felt relieved. More importantly I felt grateful. Not just that things were looking up,but even grateful for having it happen in the first place. Crazy? Maybe. But how can I not be grateful? There is so much to be appreciative of.
Health crisis, or any crisis for that matter, makes you or breaks you. Simple as that. Not everyone would agree with that but that has been my experience. I like to think that a crisis usually "makes " me. I always come out of it learning something or having made a change to my life for the better. This time around, I was taught and reminded two things. First, was that I think from time to time we all need reminders of how much we are cared about and loved. Reminded that we are not alone. Of course I am talking about the friends and family in my life who have rallied around me lately, but I am also talking about God. For me at least, I tend to lose some of my connection with Him when things are going well. I get caught up in activities, other people, and myself. Yet at three am when the world is asleep, when the pain ravages my body and I feel so alone, he is there. He is always there.
The second thing I was reminded of is to be appreciative. Of what I am capable of doing and of the good days and weeks that I do have. Even on my best days, having a chronic autoimmune illness is always present. It never goes away. Sometimes I get pretty ticked off about that. However when a flare up of that or some other medical crisis hits and knocks me down, it makes me acutely aware of how grateful I am for all those days and weeks when I could take my dog for a walk or go out on a date with my love. It reminds me of how fortunate I am that I can do things many others cannot do such as spend a few hours on a tugboat in Maine or visit my long distance friends. Sometimes it takes having to spend an inordinate amount of time in bed or being confined to the couch to recognize the significance of church activities and holiday cookouts. Gratitude is such a powerful feeling.
Relish what you have.
Don't despair for what you do not.
Brighter days DO come.
Photo: Courtesy of Chuck Myers