I have often found myself not being able to explain what it’s like living with a chronic illness. In fact until this past year, I didn’t even identify as somebody with a chronic illness. Sure I had a heart disease since 2006, which has led to heart failure. I suffer from chronic pain, headaches, shortness of breath, nausea and fatigue on top of that, some of it with an unexplained orgin but this was never a chronic illness in my mind, it was just me. Yet, telling you my symptoms, unless you’ve experienced them, probably doesn’t explain much to you.
So what is it like living with a chronic illness? Let me show you.
You get in your car for work one morning and your car won’t start. You can hear it wanting to start but it’s just not there yet. You keep at it, and finally after the dread of your car being dead sets in, it FINALLY starts. Whew, sigh of relief. As you start to back out of your drive away, the backup camera starts dinging. It startles you because you can clearly see there is nothing there. You hesitate, double checking behind you before proceeding. Finally you are on the highway to work, moving at approximately 10mph. Your low fuel light comes on. GREAT. You realize it has been on and you’re now down to 5 miles to empty. You know work is 10 miles away, the closes gas station is still 3 exits away and you will definitely be late to work if you stop for gas.
What do you do? Do you stop and get gas, knowing you’ll be late for work and run the risk of the car not starting up again? Do you hope and pray that the gauge is wrong, and continue your slow crawl to the office on the interstate optimistic you’ll be on time?
This is what it’s like living with chronic illness.