Around two weeks, I made pre-arranged plans with my personal assistant to go to the cinema.
On the morning of the day of the arranged trip, I found that the symptoms that plague my everyday life were dialled up to the maximum volume on my personal symptom-o-metre. On these days, I would usually cancel such plans and make the decision to go somewhere safe and familiar – surroundings where I feel comfortable no matter how bad I am feeling, and which are just as comforting as my own home.
On this day however, I made the decision to make the journey to the retail park, which our regular cinema is attached, and see how the day was going to pan out. I made the decision, not to make plans, but instead, if I made it to the cinema, than great, however even if I wasn’t well enough to attend, I still had a lovely day away from home, browsing stores and boutiques and indulging myself with a special lunch.
The cinema, as expected did not happen thanks to the unrelenting symptoms that was severely afflicting me, particularly the trembling in my legs that did not allow me to walk around the entire retail complex.
At first, I was thoroughly disappointed at myself and the condition with which I live for wrecking my plans in the overly critical way that I often am in regards to myself. Although, at the time I felt that I lost the battle to my neurological condition, I have come to realise however that this is not the case. I may not have made it to the cinema, but I did still manage to push through the severe and unrelenting symptoms that I was experiencing and go to a place that can often make me feel uncomfortable due to the size of the place which can often worsen the dizziness that is part of my chronic illness package.
Chronic illness often wins many battles in our lives; however, it does not win all of the battles. There are many battles that we win; many times we prize the triumph away from the hands of chronic illness and are victorious over defeat.
Think about the last very bad day you had due to chronic illness…
- Did you still manage to get out of bed?
- Go for a shower?
- Do small chores around the house?
If yes, then congratulations, you triumphed over your illness. It’s a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. We need to celebrate and appreciate these small accomplishments as just that – victories over our illnesses that already take so much from our lives, and accomplishing such feats can often feel that we are taking back some control that chronic illness can steal away.
That is the partly the reason for choosing to go out when it would have been easier to stay in the confines of the four walls where I feel safe when the symptoms are it’s worse. I did not want my neurological condition to control my life and dictate how I spend my time. I want to enjoy life, and not feel that I merely surviving through life as a result of living with a neurological condition. I want to enjoy life and be happy instead of being stuck inside the same four walls with only my symptoms for company and hoping for better days ahead.
Furthermore, the triumphant day out also taught me that I am a lot stronger than I think I am; and that the symptoms do not have to have as much control as I often choose to give them. That I am able to take risks and go to places that I did not think I could, as Ophelia says Shakespeare’s, Hamlet:
we know what we are, but know not what we may be
We know what our lives are with chronic illness and as an extension who we are because of it. Perhaps we need to step out of the box that chronic illness imprisons us into to find out what our lives can be like, if and when we choose to take back control that illness removes from our lives. Who we can be when we refuse to let illness have the main spotlight in our lives.
If we did, who knows where we may end up?