Do you remember the last time you felt normal, even for your new normal? When those days are so far apart, it's hard to remember the last time you felt good without any symptoms bothering you at the moment. I long for those days. It's usually one thing if not something else. It's rarely ever just a feel good all around day. Such days happen so rarely that my mind doesn't register it for a while, I'm so accustomed to experiencing pain of some sort that when pain is absent, it's almost unrecognizable. Those days are to be cherished. Those days are on my wish list.
I first had this thought this weekend when my eye must have gotten an irritant, that I haven't been able to find, in it as it's been painful, watering and even sensitive to light for 2.5 days now. But little did I expect my wish list to require an adjustment.
I've previously discussed my neck issues that have plagued me all summer long and what becomes the norms of our chronic illness here. This morning I had my physical therapy follow up after doing so well last month prior to a couple neck flare ups over the last couple weeks. I brought more of my medical records for my therapist to read. While discussing my body's inability to absorb nutrients, I learned a few things that have left me devastated today:
- My body's impaired ability to recover from injury, even something slightly strenuous such as walking
- The damage to my neck has resulted in a chronic condition and although several factors contributed, the fact that I was improperly performing leg lifts was a large contributing factor. Which means to me, I did this to myself. I caused my neck injury and now I will have to live with it for the rest of my life.
I'm well aware of my inability to absorb and maintain nutrients, I've been fighting this the majority of my life. But I never thought much of my recovery ability or recovery period. It makes sense, it all connects, but my attention has never been drawn to it. With my health issues, my body takes twice as long to recover from anything. Because of this any type of exercise I do participate in, I need to cut in half and double the recovery period in between increasing the amount because my body can only take small amounts of strenuous activity. Again, makes sense. This is why I do well with activity such as Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi when my stomach will allow participation.
This extended recovery period also applies to my neck injury. Although I can achieve a decent level of comfort, I'm not able to make all the symptoms disappear. Even during the best week I've had this summer, I could still tell that there was something wrong with my neck, although minimally bothersome. And so, whenever my neck becomes agitated, it will take about a week to recover. This whole time, I expected my neck to recover and that would be the end of it. I never once let myself imagine that I would have a new chronic condition. I'm used to all the negative symptoms that the FAP has caused, I deal with it. I don't know any different and I'm prepared for what's likely to come down the road with the FAP. But the news of chronic neck pain for the rest of my life has thrown me into a self pity crying party as I grapple to adjust to this concept. I wasn't prepared for a new chronic diagnosis and the symptoms. My whole life centers around FAP, not other health issues and especially not other chronic conditions. And perhaps, what makes the coping harder is that I blame myself. If I had never started the leg lifts, I probably wouldn't be in this position or at least not this soon in my life. If I had only known the risks, I never would have started the exercise. I take health risks with my FAP and the cancer returning and I own that. I don't take polyp growth reducing medications and I refuse colonoscopies. But I know the risks I'm taking. I know that when my cancer returns, I'll most likely find out later in the game than if I would undergo colonoscopies again. That's a risk I'm willing to take at this point in my life but I know about it.
It's something else when you don't know the risks and engage in a behavior/activity that causes you great harm because you didn't know the risk or didn't think about the possibility. You become consumed with the "what ifs" and I'm so angry with myself right now. I'm angry and I'm devastated. I'm hurting, physically and emotionally.
And so I'm going to practice what I preach. I'm going to have my cry out but I will do my best not to live there. I will add minimal neck pain days to my wish list. I will cherish the days I feel good and I will recognize those days. I will hold onto the hope for those days. At the end of the day, we need that hope to make it to the next day and a lot of hugs along the way really help too.