Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Limited

My dad had a heart-attack a little over a month ago--his first. This was preceded by an emergency appendectomy with complications a few months earlier. It's been a hard adjustment for him to accept health challenges, live on four or five medications, and think about changing his diet at age 73 years. When I got home from our 12-day road trip, which included a visit to him in the hospital, I wrote the following letter.

Dear Dad,

For me, I feel like my cross to bear is that I've always felt limited to some capacity. Either by asthma or severe allergies as a child; or debilitating headaches, chronic body pain, emotional fragility as an adolescent and young adult; and now with all the various complex symptoms of Lyme disease. 

And to say the least, it's never been fun. It wasn't fun when I was a kid and it would take me a day to recover from riding horse [I would break out in hives, would sneeze uncontrollably, and suffer an asthma attack], something I loved more than anything else. Or when I didn't have the stamina of other kids in sports. But being a kid, and not knowing what it was like to be normal, I accepted it.

Last fall, when I started having psoriasis, chest pain, nerve pain, joint pain, panic-seizure episodes, migraines, blurred vision, shortness of breath, my eyes so dry I wanted to claw them out, my bones hurting in the inside, my shoulders tingling like I've been hooked up to an eclectic current, and would wake up in the middle of the night shaking and with the chills, as if I was in shock, I had a very hard time accepting it. 

It was all so confusing and scary I was convinced I was dying. And if I wasn't dying, I wanted to. I didn't want to live like that nor did I want my kids to be raised by a mother so limited and seemingly crazy. And, I felt like a major burden on my husband.

But somebody told me to fantasize about a happy, healthy future--being active with my boys. And that's what I did. I would imagine the future and all my dreams yet to be fulfilled. In fact, I had one especially, touching "vision" where I was dancing with Ry at a formal event, maybe his wedding. And then another where JB, a grown man, was carrying me.
[FYI, Ry is 4 years old and JB is 1.5] 

Those dreams/fantasies kept me going. And a lot of prayer. And so, here I am, nine months later, with the help of a good doctor and supportive family,  feeling so much better, improving everyday--physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And, I have a different life perspective because of it all. A better one.

You can take what you want out of that and how it applies to your life. I can imagine that the last three months have been really rough. It's hard to come to terms with sickness, and being dependant on medication and other people. I know that. It's a hard place to be. Especially after the adventuresome life that you've lead. 

I'm sure it will be difficult for you to take it easy for awhile. And in the days when you want to give up, I hope you think about how much we all love you and all the adventures you have yet to go on and all the memories you have yet to make with mom, your children, your grandchildren, and your great grandchildren.

I love you, 

Kim


3 comments:

Alix said...

Kim this is so touching. I'm so glad you shared it with everyone. It's so hard that we all feel entitled to good health that when it's gone we feel like giving up. I think you did an excellent job conveying this to your dad. And, the message that you are having sympathy for his current plight so there should be some reciprocity for all you've been through is a message I read into the piece, but might not have been intended.

I think all of us with lyme feel bilked on the sympathy front.

Monkey Girl said...

Moving letter.

Although I studied the psychology of chronic illness(way back in college), it doesn't make it easier to understand people's response to those who have a chronic illness.

Lyme disease has really tested my, 'the glass is half full' theory.

Kim said...

I guess what I was trying to say, was, "Look I've had it pretty rough, I haven't given up yet. You better not either."

My father has actually been one of the most empathetic people in my life, when it comes to Lyme.