10 Quotes That Helped Me Fight Chronic Illness

I have often throughout my battle found comfort, hope or strength in literature. These words have carried me through the darkest of times, and I feelcthat most people will be able to find strength in them. May they bless you, as they have blessed me.

  1. “Some women are lost in the fire. Some women are built from it.” – Michelle K

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  2. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is: it’s okay. It’s okay for me to be kind to myself. It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to get mad. It’s okay to be flawed. It’s okay to be happy. It’s okay to move on.” —Hayley Williams

  3. “Being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. Being brave means you are scared, really scared, badly scared, and you do the right thing anyway.” — Neil Gaiman

  4. “You will be too much for some people. Those aren’t your people.” -Karen Salmansohn

  5. “Scars are souvenirs you never lose.” – Goo Goo Dolls

  6. “It’s a beautiful thing to have lungs that allow you to breathe air and legs that allow you to climb mountains, and it’s a shame that sometimes we don’t realize that that’s enough.”

  7. “We are all dying, one breath at a time. Health will fade, bones will become brittle, and none of it will matter in the slightest. No stars burn for the same amount of time, but each is still uniquely beautiful. Nothing in this life is going to stop someone from loving you for your fire. You’re a different star, born to shine unlike the rest, but don’t for a second think it makes you any less beautiful.” – William C. Hannan

  8. “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” – Frida Kahlo

  9. “Whatever you are physically; male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy – all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside.”- Cassandra Clare

  10. “I told her once I wasn’t good at anything. She told me survival is a talent.” – Susanna Kaysen

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I definitely could not have said it any better myself. Keep fighting, beauties. Life is beautiful.

– Retha

 

That Time I Almost Punched The ER Doctor In The Face

The emergency room has never been a particularly amicable place. It is an assembly point for people in discomfort, be it from broken bones or food poisoning, searching for assistance for varying levels of medical problems. However, if you have a rare disease or a complicated medical history, it is often not a place where you actually receive help.

I was discharged from hospital on Wednesday morning from a routine and scheduled visit to receive all the intravenous treatments I require to continue breathing. By Thursday evening my symptoms, that I  had initially  associated with the common side effects from a combination of all my treatments,  worsened to such a degree that I reluctantly made my way to the  ER. I say reluctantly because even though one would expect someone with a complicated body to feel at ease around several educated doctors and nurses, if they are not familiar with your condition or your combination of conditions, they like to dismiss most of your symptoms by claiming you are “overreacting” or “just looking for drugs.” Often times you find yourself worrying more about the level of these medical professional’s competency in treating your “special case” – personally, I mostly stress that they will unknowingly kill me with drugs that they did not know are contraindicated to all the medications I am taking.

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You see, the thing about ER doctors is that simply do not listen. On Thursday evening I told the ER doctors that I have been on corticosteroids for several years. I know that because of this my my body does not always present with symptoms of infection in a normal way, seeing as my immune system is suppressed. I think my first mistake was informing the doctor that I know this. Doctors are so used to being much smarter than their patients that as soon as a patient possesses anything more than common medical knowledge, they seem to be incredibly offended/intimidated. I personally believe this is because they are aware of the fact that I know more than them when it comes to my body.

“They were threatened by my intelligence and too stupid to know that’s why they hated me.” – Sheldon Cooper

The doctor continually sighed when I opened my mouth and I could see that every time she realised I was about to speak, she wanted to roll her eyes. When I told her that my primary specialist was in another city, she continued by saying,

“You’re making this very difficult for us.”

I neglected to mention that the neurologist who works at this particular hospital was never equipped to treat me and when I had initially moved from her care to my current neurologist (in another city), her first comment on my health was that I was “severely under treated.”

I was so overwhelmed by emotions of rage, frustration and worst of all helplessness. I was lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by doctors who did not understand my body and did not appear to want to listen to me. I was lying in a hospital bed though – meaning I was depending on them to help me because as far as I understand is that is what the Hippocratic Oath is all about – and it did not appear that anyone was going to help me.

If I had been in a healthier state, that is exactly what I would have lectured her on, but I was not. I was in a hospital bed. I was reluctantly dependent. I was weak. So the only words I managed to utter in response were,

” I am here because I need help.”

I hope that one day the ER will be a place where even sick people can get help, but until then I’ll just have to write a post about every single bad experience I have, in the hope that someday a medicine student or a doctor or a nurse might read it and realise that they have the power to break this horrible cycle of mistreatment of those who come to them in search of relief.

But until then, never stop fighting beauties. Life is too damn  beautiful.

– Retha

It’s Okay To Feel A Little Broken

This week has been challenging beyond belief. It broke me, both emotionally and physically; from receiving my 11th chemo infusion to crying in front of my neurologist from my hospital bed. I am tired, I am stressed and I could really do with playing with about a dozen puppies.

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Follow @bethdrawsthings on instagram – she makes nice things.

 

Life with  chronic illness is tougher than most people will be able to understand – that in itself is a very alienating and quite the depressing thought.  Physical illness has such a noticeable yet underrated effect on an individual’s emotional wellbeing. Chronic illness warriors are so used to fighting against our own bodies that by the time we have to face the emotions formed as a result of these odd physical manifestations, we are too exhausted to pay the appropriate amount of attention to them. This leads to a horrible build up, but if one just adds a  little external stress to the situation (like exams or your cat dying) you are guaranteed to experience an emotional cataclysm of majestic proportions.

There is no shame in a little self pity. Fighting your own system 24/7 can lead to an emotional rollercoaster that might force you to listen to Adelle and envision  your good days as Adelle’s lost ex boyfriends.

Hello Past Healthy Self? It’s me. I’ve been wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet.

I speak from personal experience when I tell you that excessive amounts of chocolate or cute baby animal videos can help drag you out of your wallowing- but only when you are ready to leave the black abyss your mind has turned into. People truly underestimate the influential repercussions of just thinking happy thoughts. The World Health Organization defines health as physical, emotional and social wellbeing. Not only the absence of disease – or in my case symptoms. Never underestimate the importance of emotional wellbeing. Having a little mercy on yourself every now and then is a healthy coping mechanism.

Life gets tough for all of us, even healthy people. It is okay to feel a little defeated at times, but the most important part it to move on as quickly as you can. Never stop fighting beauties. Life is beautiful.

– Retha

Unread Messages

It is no revelation that without significant support the battle against disease becomes increasingly more difficult. It takes a special kind of person to endure the never ending attacks illness can impose on your life. It takes an exceptional human being to willingly involve themselves in a battle that is not even theirs to fight.

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I just survived my third last infusion of medical poison or more widely known as “chemotherapy.” Seeing as my refractory Myasthenia Gravis apparently would not be treated by anything other than satan itself, for the past year I have had to endure chemotherapy infusions every 4 weeks. It did not teach me as much as I had hoped it would, but it highlighted something that I was blissfully unaware of; the extraordinary quality of people I am surrounded by. Chemotherapy has definitely not taught me that I am stronger than I thought I was. I am fairly certain that any person with a chronic illness knows they are pretty damn tough. It showed me something even more valuable; it taught me that I do not have to endure anything alone. A life without companionship can turn a person into a bitter monster, I am sure most of us know someone like that and we can definitely reach a consensus that no one wants to be that person.

Even though most of my recovery from chemo involves excessive amounts of sleeping with side orders of vomiting and headaches, I have never done  any of it alone. Chemo drains every ounce of energy from my body and I often go two or three days without even checking my phone. I persuade my boyfriend into letting my family know that I have not died yet and continue to sleep the days away. I like to call it zombie mode. I have even agreed to certain things in zombie mode and had no recollection of said promises when I finally returned to my human form. I do not think anyone who has never experienced chemotherapy for themselves will ever be able to comprehend exactly how awful it feels to continuously be poisoned merely because you wish to survive. Now, I have said this before, but it is so important to realize what a gift you possess if you do not need any infusions to survive, before it is too late.

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My favourite part of chemo recovery is when I have finally returned to my regular human form and have probably stomached my first meal again. Although eating is quite extraordinary after days of not even stomaching the smell of food, it still is not the best part. The best part of my recovery is when I finally feel up to it to check my phone again, because for the past year the lowest amount of unread messages I have had was 15. These messages come from such a wide range of people, ranging from family and friends to some kid I used to bath with when I was a baby’s boyfriend, that it has brought me to tears on more than one occasion. I am not a particularly religious person, but compassion in people is something that leaves me doubting in my lack of faith. If you have any idea how stubborn I am, you would understand the magnitude of that statement. I would even go as far as calling ALL of the extraordinary people that have kept me in their thoughts, their prayers, their chants or their rain dances the biggest blessing that I have ever been graced with. I might be horrible at speedily replying thanks to zombie mode, but that does not mean that my gratitude is any less than colossal. The fact that you wish to involve yourself, to any extent, in my struggle is beautiful. Especially since you are just as powerless as I am when it comes to controlling my disease.

The impact you can have on those around you is always bigger than you will realize in that exact moment. You never know how your actions will influences another’s life. Sometimes someone just needs to hear something good after a long day. Compassion is the most glorious quality any human being can possess, without it we might as well all be monsters. Keep fighting, beauties. Life is so damn beautiful.

– Retha

 

Say What You Need To Say

The most important thing that chronic illness has taught me about life is that it is unbelievably strange. I knew this before falling ill but chronic illness itself is quite out of the ordinary, so it just added to the baffling mess that is life. Being a little odd yourself is not a bad thing if you have to survive in a bizarre world.

It is winter time here in sunny South Africa and that means that almost everyone you talk to is a walking fortress for infectious disease; the boogers, the coughs, the sneezes and the sniffing. Someone with a suppressed immune system, like myself, does not stand a chance. I managed to dodge a few attacks, but eventually I also turned into a walking fortress for the infectious disease we all know very well, the common cold. Having a cold when you have an autoimmune disease is quite interesting. It is almost as if your autoimmune disease sees the cold as competition in the “who can make the human feel the shittiest today” contest. Truthfully, being immunosuppressed and falling ill is quite dangerous, if you do not take proper care of yourself even a common cold could end up sending you to hospital. And honestly, having a cold is horrible, I am pretty sure we can all agree on that.

So while I was monitoring my breathing and feeling utterly sorry for myself, my phone beeped. I stopped the internal debate about whether or not my nose had always been this blocked and whether I would survive this cold, I am sure everyone has reached that point of having a cold at some point in their life. The message was from a beautiful ray of sunshine that I have not heard from or really contacted in a while. A beautiful girl with a beautiful message of joy and compassion that came at a time when my motivation levels were at zero. It was like the universe was letting me know that I had to keep going. That is the power of one message; the power of saying how you feel.

We often choose not to say nice things because we do not want to sound weird. The weirdest thing that has ever happened to you is life, yet you choose not to sound weird? Come on, guys! I have decided to spread the love and be a little weird. You never know whose day you might make. You never know what kind of impact you could have on someone else’s life. The world needs more people awkwardly smiling when they accept unexpected compliments. The world needs you to be nice and weird.

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I hope the world is treating you well and that you are looking for the beautiful things hidden in every day. Life is so beautiful. Never stop fighting.

– Retha

An Ode To The Good Ones

People have different ways of coping with having a chronically ill person in their life, just as us sick folk have our own different ways of coping with being chronically ill. Some people rise to the occasion, some people respectfully fade away and some see illness as a vulnerability to attack. This post is dedicated to the people that have left me speechless with the pure beauty of their souls.

Certain moments define people’s character better than any set test ever could, having a sick friend or family member creates one of these opportunities. It is difficult to maintain a friendship with someone who is always tired, who cannot get drunk with you or who is often forced to cancel plans due to health issues. Yet somehow there are people who go above and beyond what is expected of them to do just that, maintain a difficult and unconventional friendship.  They know that we will probably never be able to repay them for their kindness, we simply do not have the energy to do so, they just wish to spread happiness – and that you do, you beautiful, selfless people. In a world that is filled with terrorists, homophobes and racists, these people restore my faith in humanity on a regular basis. That is something that should never be undervalued, especially with the state that humanity is in these days.

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Last week, as I boarded a plane for a trip home, filled with new doctors and new medications, I met an amazing girl. What started out as a compliment about my tattoo, ended up being one of the richest conversations I have ever had and festered a new friendship that has left me speechless. This chirpy girl had no idea that our newly discovered shared quirkiness and disregard for irrationality was exactly what my bent soul needed to survive. She made me realize that even though I have been labeling myself as boring due to my low activity levels, there were still people that found me interesting. She made me feel like a person, not just a diagnosis. I will try and repay her kindness for the rest of my sick life, even if it just means letting her play with my remote controlled hospital bed. There are very few things a kind soul cannot fix, so remember to never lose your kindness. One day you might give someone else hope, by just being yourself.

There are people that live on the other side of the country, meaning we do not see each other as often as we would like, you know because life gets in the way, yet when we finally reconnect it feels like we were never apart. They do not judge nor question my newly established limitations, even if they do not always understand them. There are people that upon hearing about unnecessary drama in my life, promptly respond with, “whose ass should I kick?” No questions asked. How do I even begin to thank people for protecting me, when I never even asked them to do so? My friends and family are amazing and they keep my head above water. They keep my heart beating emotionally, when I am too busy trying to keep it beating physically.

The last eight months of chemotherapy treatments have made me realize that the quality of the people in your life will determine how strong you can stay during the difficult times. I have often felt too exhausted to be my usual positive self and I am guilty of feeling very bitter about my health situation. I am sorry for breaking down in front of you, when my chemotherapy was extended from 6 months to a year. I thank you for every message of understanding and support I have received over the progression of my illness and treatments. I thank you for telling me I am allowed to feel this way, for telling me I am allowed to feel and for helping me understand that I am allowed to be human.

Very few of the good ones will ever realize or acknowledge exactly how spectacular they are. Their hearts are too exceptional to ever accept such narcissism. I do not know how long my organs will keep up with these harsh treatments, none of us know know what exactly the future holds for us, but I promise that you have made the biggest difference in my life, in a time where I could have lost all hope. It is an accomplishment that should not be taken lightly, especially in a world that convinces us that emotions are a sign of weakness. Your unconditional love, support and understanding has given me so much strength, even if you do not realize it.

I prefer these kinds of people above morphine, above medical marijuana and above any other strong medications the healthy world is aware of. You keep me fighting and you keep me breathing. I hope your life will always be filled with the beauty and hope you have created in mine. Keep fighting beauties, life is beautiful.

– Retha

Dear Chronically Ill Person

No one is ever going to fully understand what you are going through, but I’m pretty sure you have figured that out already. People are going to surprise you in the best and the worst of ways, but you’ll grow from it. You have unfortunately been dealt a shitty hand of health, you have to deal with it now. There is no shame in mourning, it is a big loss, but there are bigger things awaiting you. There are bigger things changing inside of you. You are going to be fine, I promise.

You cannot protect your loved ones from what is happening, do not waste your energy on trying to save them some inconvenience. If they love you, helping you will not turn you into as big of a burden as you feel you have become. You should swallow your pride and allow them to help you, at least every now and then. Asking for or accepting help does not make you weak, it makes you human. You are still very much human underneath all of the medical stuff you have going on. You are allowed to be human.image

There are very few things self-centered people will ever understand about other people. It is not your responsibility to teach people how to be decent. Yes, your existence has placed them in a situation unknown to  most but that is not your fault. You should guide them in situations that are very overwhelming, of course, but good manners is not something you are forced to teach anyone just because you are sick now. Everyone should take responsibility for themselves, that is what being a grown up is all about. You are a person before you are sick, it’s important to remind yourself of that.

Do not mess around with your medication. You have to take responsibility for your health now. There are certain things your body is messing up with, and it has become your responsibility to fulfill those functions by taking your medication. Do not take this responsibility lightly, you do not want to learn the hard way why your medication is so important. Grow up and take responsibility for yourself, even if you feel you are too young for these things. This is your life now, accept the responsibility and you might flourish. There are worse things than gaining weight due to a medication, like for example, not breathing. Your life is not only important to you.

You are allowed to be angry, sad, annoyed and to feel hopeless. You do not have to be ashamed of feeling these things. If you speak to any other chronically ill person you will soon learn that what you are feeling is perfectly normal. You are not going crazy. You are not losing who you are. Your life is changing and if you do not adapt, you will always feel lost or stuck between two worlds. Start by taking baby steps, there is no rush, but you will feel much better as soon as you start with the process. No one likes being a novice at anything, especially not at their own life.

You are not weak just because your health is. Your life has taken a different turn than most, but the beauty that you will experience from the amazing people that will enter your life is unimaginable. You will get to see exactly what it feels like to have your faith in humanity restored, thanks to your loved ones. I have had tears in my eyes from messages people have sent me from all around the world. Distance means nothing when someone is really interested in your well being.That goes both ways, so remember to not get too lost in the ocean of your health and completely neglect your friends. Do not forget to thank these people. You will soon learn that they are few and far between, so realize their worth as soon as possible.

You will be fine. Remember, life is beautiful. Never stop fighting.

Yours sincerely

Retha

 

The Five Assholes You Meet When You’re Sick

Oh no, the frail little sick kid isn’t grateful that you spent some of your precious time on her, how dare I? Assholes are everywhere, the funny part about meeting them is they usually have no idea that they are being assholes. Maybe while reading this you’ll realize that sometimes you are an asshole too.

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1. The Perk Stealer

Yes, it is true. Chronically ill people often have some perks that healthy people yearn for due to plain laziness, in my opinion. Perks like disabled parking are not really seen as perks when they become necessities for functional living. Yeah, I know I look “totally normal” and sadly some assholes just cannot comprehend that looks can be deceiving. I get chemotherapy every month and somehow some assholes can still convince themselves that stealing my parking is justified. Parking on the disabled spot when you are not disabled, is not cool. Glaucoma might get you medical marijuana but it doesn’t give you access to my parking, now use your functioning muscles and walk the extra 50m, asshole.

2. The Smart Ass

Everyone knows one, everyone has met one and everyone has rolled their eyes at one. As a sick kid, you get to meet them in abundance as just about every second Jack has some sort of a “miracle cure”  that will definitely get me off of these “nasty medicines” in no time! News flash, asshole: I know exactly what these medications are doing to me, I’m living this nightmare every day. I have weighed and measured the pros and cons. I autonomously made a decision about my health, now please autonomously fuck off and stop shoving your pseudoscience down my throat. I’m stuck on most of my medications – if I stop, I die. I’m trapped. Please stop reminding me of this.

3. The One Upper

Is there anything more annoying than someone invalidating your pain? These assholes are the worst. “I’m getting treatment tomorrow.” “Oh, I remember when I went for chemotherapy five years ago…” If you are going to end off your comparison with some advice or something useful at least, please continue but if not, please shut up. Stealing the show from a scared sick kid is quite a dick move and it is not really something you should be proud of. I still do not understand why people would even do this. Comparison is not the isssue here. I always compare my treatment experiences with others and appreciate it when they do the same; this is called a learning experience. The fact that you are trying to make me feel like my current pain and suffering is supposed to be compared to yours, that is what makes you an asshole.

4. The Passing Storm

Everyone has had a “friend” like this at some stage of their life, if not, count yourself lucky. These people keep themselves in your life with fake niceness and just when you think they are genuine and you can depend on them, they shatter you. Since falling ill, I’ve had more than my fair share of dealing with this type. The one disappeared just as I was forced to drop out of university because of my health and have open heart surgery at 20 because, “you talk about your health too much.” These assholes are the main reason I do not like people and living with chronic illness has forced them to reveal their true colours sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, not soon enough. The worst part is that they have no idea how horrible they truly are. #peopleiwishihadnevermet

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5. The Fader

“Let me know when you’re back in hospital and I’ll bring you some flowers!” SPOILER ALERT! They never pitch. I really hate empty promises, especially when you wait for someone during visiting times and they never show up. It’s slightly heartbreaking. Don’t make empty promises to someone who is stuck in a hospital bed, we have nowhere else to go when you do not pitch.

So, moral of the story is; don’t be an asshole. It is a good thing that the nice people outweigh the assholes in my life. If they do not in yours, start reevaluating the people you are allowing to be part of your life. Never stop fighting beauties, life is beautiful.

– Retha

Sunday Sadness

You experience life a little differently than the rest of the world when you are chronically ill. We tend to have a lot of time to think about things, thanks to prolonged hospital stays and insomnia. Overthinking often leads to sadness and spurts of self inflicted alienation. Here are some sad truths I’ve realized thanks to my excessive thinking habits.

No one is ever going to understand how you truly feel. There are just too many factors and past events that contribute to your emotions. People will be able to relate, of course, based on their similar experiences, but they will never be able to know exactly how you feel. They will never understand. As a sick kid, I’m glad that those close to me will never know how I really feel – because no one should have to experience life like this.

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And with that statement my readers have split into two dominant groups; people that think I’m pitying myself too much and spoonies that realise how tough this life truly is. And that’s okay. I have to make peace with people not understanding my situation, not showing sympathy or being plain rude. I need to realize that some people will never understand what it’s like living with a faulty body and trying to convince them is a waste of my already useless muscles and difficult breaths. Making peace with people not being who I thought they were is really tough. I have found that I often believed people possessed the qualities needed to cope with a sick friend, when they in fact did not. This repetitive process is one that has broken my heart several times over my life as a chronically twenty something. It never hurts less, and that’s okay. It won’t stop me from trying to convince strangers of how difficult life with an invisible illness can be. One battle at a time.

On the other hand, it leaves me feeling very alienated. I’ve realized I will always feel somewhat alienated. At first, this made me incredibly sad and I struggled with it for a long time. I think most human beings are scared of being too different from the rest of the population, because we’re scared of being the only one. Alone. Alienated. After some overly excessive thinking, I have come to the realization that I have a special pass at life. I get to experience it from a perspective very few people will ever even know exists. Even though this means that I will sometimes feel alone. Even though this means I will always feel a little different. I am honoured that I was chosen for a more difficult life. We’re  playing Life on hard mode, because we are fucking bad ass.

My weak health is going to be mistaken for general weakness. I promise you, there is nothing that pisses me off and saddens more than this. When I tell a classmate that I haven’t been feeling too well the past couple of days so I haven’t started studying yet, and they reply with, “yeah I have a cold but I managed to study.”  Sometimes life gets a bit much and I live a little messy. I have to get through the day with half the energy of a healthy person but still get shit done, so I have to neglect a few areas of life and it’s mostly those that require physical activity. While I know that is okay and the best decision for my life, the healthy folk are still going to think I’m lazy. You can’t win every battle, and that is okay.

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This does not mean that I am not going to try and raise awareness for those of us living with invisible illnesses. This does not mean that I am severely depressed about life. These sad truths do not govern my thoughts but when these inconvenient situations occur, I’m emotionally prepared for them. Keep fighting in beauties, life is beautiful.

– Retha

 

 

Dying With A Twist

One of the most common phrases one hears as a chronically ill person is, “I don’t know how you do it.” I usually brush it off with somehing like, “I do what I must to survive.” But that doesn’t really answer the question that statement raises. How the hell do we do it? I’m pretty sure there are 5 million different opinions by a whole bunch of educated people. I’m no professional, but I do love sharing my opinion. So, here it goes.

Firstly, I think we’ve become so used to losing things that we no longer fear losing our lives as much as the average person. That makes fighting for your life on a daily basis a whole lot more bearable. From a personal account, I’ve lost a life already. Sport used to be a huge part of my future until my health thought it was time to shit all over those dreams. Side effects from medications eat everything that is associated with beauty in this modern age; nails, hair, weight, stretch marks, and the list goes on. No career in vanity then either. Then there’s the chronic fatigue that eats away your motivation to get stuff done, that is if you aren’t in hospital thanks to a flare anyway. Prior to falling ill, I made a long list of plans and dreams and within weeks of starting to fall ill they all slowly started to fade away. I lost the life I thought I was meant to live already, so why should death scare me then?

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The thing that used to scare me most was what would happen to those who actually care about me if I were to die. Death is a very real and very active thought in the mind of us sick folk. Then I realised, if I can survive losing a life, they can survive losing me. Of course I’m not saying that I’m now giving up and letting this disease win. Hell, no! I’ve merely discovered my will to fight for me, not for someone else. I don’t plan on losing two lives so easily, it’s not like I have a few spare ones that will just kick in if I lose again. That’s not exactly how death works, it’s known to be a bit more permanent.

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It is unfortunate that we’re asked to make these sacrifices, it really is. I don’t hide the fact that I struggle from everyone. Some days I just can’t & it feels like everything is unfair & I don’t understand why & I need love & I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m being needy because in my mind, I’ve already died. The fact that they’re gonna struggle with the guilt of being bad people to a dying girl has also helped me to make peace with people not treating me right, more than once. Some call it kharma, some call it being a good Christan. We’ve all had those days. As long as they don’t turn from days to weeks to months to years, you’ll be fine tomorrow. I promise.

Another thing that’s helped me to cope, is accepting that self pity in a time of chronic illness is nothing to be ashamed of. And if it helps, if you shared your story with me (be it about chronic illness or not), I’d probably feel sorry for you too. The durability of the human body is pretty weak, if you don’t believe me you should take a look at my organs, but the durability of our spirit is something we will never be able to comprehend. I did not know what I was capable of enduring before all this and I must say, I’m pretty damn impressed with myself. You should be too. Look at you surving, despite it all.

With exams around the corner, my next chemo infusion lurking and just all round bad time management from my part, I probably won’t have time for self pity in the coming days – but watch me find some anyway. Life is difficult and that’s okay because “toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles.” Keep fighting beauties. Life is beautiful.

– Retha

xxx