I never saw myself as a warrior. Or a fighter. I was just a lady who loves Jesus, books, her family, and learning. Being thrown into the realm of chronic illness has changed my perspective. I don’t need swords, knifes, or guns or awesome ninja moves. Though those ninja moves would be fun to do. Especially when walking into the grocery store or my best friend’s apartment or even my brother’s house. I would love to have been like Bruce Lee. That isn’t in the cards for me. I can still dream. Perhaps I can do the ninja chop on some spaghetti squash.
My fight is my own. I cannot dictate to someone how they are going to handle it or what they will do. For me, it’s been a roller coaster ride. At times I have been worn out to the bone. Sometimes I feel like I just accomplished an Olympic event. But the fact is, I can’t tell anyone how they make the B-line with their illness. Daily I have to make decisions that affect my health. Decisions that can break me or help me succeed with my big goals. These include moving my body, accepting the help from my awesome care-givers, seeing the doctor, and what I eat. The choices feel like they can endless. There is so much information out there on how you should move your body and if you don’t do it just that way you are a failure and you’ll get fatter, yada, yada, yada. I’m so tired of hearing that. My fitness goals are simple. I just want to be strong. Be able to walk with family members without being so out of breathe. That is the biggest fight I have. Breathing. If you have been following my journey from the beginning then you know about my throat issues. I face fears that I don’t share. They are dark. My greatest fear is having my trachea close off and there is nothing they can do to open it so that I can breathe. Another fear is waking up with my trachea crushed. I’m helpless. The biggest fight I have is not thinking about the many disasters that can happen with a compromised trachea. Some don’t know that when you cut a hole into the trachea for a trach it weakens the trachea more. I know a few trach patients that have had crushed tracheas. Nothing they did made it happen. It just was so weak it caved in. That scares me. I have had two trachs. There are no exercises to make it stronger. There are no fad diets that can make it stronger. The only thing that I have is to pray to Jesus and be thankful. Daily I put my trust and confidence in Jesus and that helps my anxiety subside when it comes to those negative disastrous thoughts.
I fight for my attitude of gratitude. I fights to make wise choices when I just want to crawl under my bed with my cat and hide from the realities of my life. I’m sorry to say that it isn’t a pretty journey with beautiful roses on the path. It is a path with a ton of snares, roots that you can trip on, and dark things that crawl that make you want to scream. I also see the beauty. Because with the roots there are magnificent trees and with the bugs there are beautiful flowers and vegetables that can be grown. But it is also muddy and the worse obstacle than any tough mudder can come up with.
Recently, I had a text conversation with a friend who is on her own journey with her health. It’s scary with how many of the people in my life have their own fight with a chronic illness. She is on her own journey. She is a different person than I am. To certain extents we can empathize with each other, but there are some things that I don’t truly get when it comes to her journey to wellness. Just like there are not things she understands when it comes to mine. Support’s key. Sometimes with the support there will be mishaps. Doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. It just means that we need to slow down and pray for the person while they are traveling.
Today’s been a rough day. I live on the border of Portland Oregon, in the city of Vancouver Washington. I get the fires from Oregon and Washington. This has been an extremely dry season for the North West. The air quality is bad. The heat is dreadful. I’m looking forward to the rainy season that I hope will get here soon. Every single day I have things that I have to check with my breathing. I use a peak flow to help me figure out if my throat is closing up and if I need to go in to have another dilation surgery. With the numbers, and with my nephew’s excellent geometry skills I have put together a visual chart that helps me with that information. I hate doing it. But that is one of the many tools that I use in my fight. Today, since the air quality sucked. I stayed in. I did my exercises in my air conditioned apartment. Thankfully, I am blessed with an air conditioner. I also have some exercise equipment that allows me to move my body. While my caregiver went grocery shopping for me I did my exercises. Another awesome tool I use is my crockpot. Right now I have a whole chicken in the crockpot with garlic, onion, carrots, and water. I can make several meals with this one chicken and the broth that it will make. I also cut up a cabbage in order to make my own batch of sauerkraut. I also have my bible that I read daily in order set my day. It’s not all sunshiny and roses, but I do take the steps necessary in order for me to live a well life despite being ill. It can happen. Anger is natural, but it is what we do with the anger that becomes important. God says don’t sin when you are angry. To me that speaks about what I choose to do when I am angry about my condition. Will I allow myself to become hateful and bitter towards myself and others or will I stand up to my anger and let that propel me towards the woman God wants me to be. It’s a fine line sometimes, but life would be boring if we were all the same.
After reading what I have written, perhaps, I am a warrior. I don’t have a sword, or breast plate, helmet, or awesome ninja skills. But I do have the strength and power of God and a mind that propels me to keep being proactive in my care. Perhaps that is my body armor and my weapons. Here is a great song to encourage: Beautiful Things by Gungor