Someone asked me recently why I keep fighting. How is it that I find the energy or the motivation to go to another doctor’s appointment or try yet another medication? Why hasn’t the accumulation of nearly eight years of disappointment made me bitter or caused me to give up?
It’s an interesting question and one that I don’t have a clear answer to. But, a few things come to mind. First, one of my close friends in high school told me about her dad (shortly after hers had passed away.) He had diverticulitis and found out in his late teens. He had concluded that since he wasn’t going to live very long, he was just going to enjoy life. So he smoked and did drugs and didn’t take care of his body. And while he died fairly young, his daughter was in college when it happened. He spent most of his adult life suffering from the physical consequences of not taking care of his body. I remember her encouraging me not to be like her dad. Don’t give up Abigail, she said. Don’t spend your whole life waiting to die. Maximize the time that you do have. You’re so talented. Do something with that. Don’t be miserable your whole life. And that also means taking care of your body. Pursue medical treatment. Try to get help before you reach the point of no return. And be honest.
It was a strange conversation. But I remember it really well. Her words really made an impression on me. And the idea of her dad giving up when he was 19, only to live another 30 years seemed like a waste.
I think fear also plays a fairly big role as well. I so desperately want the illness to be under control our at least monitored. Then it’s not like I’ll be fighting on my own. And if something were to happen, I wouldn’t be at the mercy of whoever or whatever. It’s a way to fight for independence, a way to argue that I still have control over some part of my life.
And the last thing is that I’m a doer. I like to be successful at whatever I take on. I want to be the best that I can possibly be. This is particularly true in situations where I’m not there voluntarily. I might be a bad choice for a babysitter but I’m going to be the best babysitter I can possibly be. (I think that’s one thing that frustrated me about graduate school. I worked very hard, and I was excelling in the program. The ravenous lion acknowledged that, but to him it was irrelevant. He told me as much himself. And that was hard. Because it was a rejection of my primary yardstick.)
I’m still not sure why I’m the way that I am. I also know that some of my favorite physicians think I spend to much time and energy thinking about my illness or trying to get help. But these are at least some of my thoughts.
That, and how could I not? Sometimes I think that’s the more relevant question. I’m just making the best of an imperfect world.
Any thoughts or suggestions?