A Returning

tadeusz kantor the sea concert 1967
Tadeusz Kantor, “The Sea Concerto”, 1967

I have been away. I have often thought of how to begin this blog again after a long hiatus and then more time would pass and there it stood waiting for me to speak, write, and reach out. The reason for my silence is the same reason for beginning this blog. Living with chronic illness permeates everything we do. It is the scaffolding of which we build each day. It determines our daily plans, what we take on, and what we leave unfinished. As I dedicated each day to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, medication changes, and rebuilding my life after a health storm, this unfinished blog provided comfort knowing that it was a place for me to return.

As the months passed, I was forced into long stretches of bed rest, breaking from work, my passions, the world, and my voice. This is the cycle, after all, of the chronically ill. It is a sequence of retreat and victory, of silence and stories, and of mining the telos of one’s spirit. What incites us to account our narrative to others relegates us to silence in other moments in a life lived with chronic illness. I have to admit that at first my silence was “put upon” me. I was so engulfed in pain, fatigue, and just getting through one hour after another that I had no desire to communicate about the latest health trial. Yet, resignation turned towards choice, as I again reimagined and redesigned a future. It is a truth we face when dealing with an incurable disease that we must rewrite our future story after it is continually malformed by our bodies. The poet Carmen Tafolla wrote: “I was the fourth ship. Behind Niña, Pinta, Santa María, Lost at sea while watching a seagull, Following the wind and sunset skies, While the others set their charts.” This post is dedicated to the future, to the reciting of a livable future, and to exploring the why in a life filled with medical chaos.

Illness is an invasion of identity. Since living through surgeries, a nine medication regimen, and too many medical procedures, I have searched for an explanation, a pathway, and a satisfactory answer to why. Why did this happen? Why me? I have done everything from pretending that the illness part of my life is nonexistent to studying the mechanisms and pathologies of the body; nonetheless, illness continues to lead its assault. To live with a chronic degenerative disease one must constantly engage in meaning-making. Why? It is because illness is unremitting and untrustworthy. A medical crisis can topple all that you have worked towards in a mere blink. Therefore, we are professionals at reconstruction and rebooting our future. Often times, it is a future tinted by professional and personal sadness. Professional goals wane under the weight of the body often causing an individual to lose their job or relinquish ambitions. Illness demands a personal reimagining of what family looks like sometimes forcing an individual to move in with a family member who subsumes a caregiver role or surrendering the dream of having a family and experiencing parenthood. Illness fractures identity and makes us feel less complete because completion is continuously interrupted.

I believe searching for the “why me” is not out of anger, jealousy, or pity but out of the attempt to take all these futures interrupted and find fulfillment in a life that no longer looks like the life originally intended. Chronic illness mandates that the individual who lives with it coat themselves in an extra layer of depth because it is a permanent state and the human mind has forever raised questions about immutability.

I spent the last year in renovation. It’s frightening; isn’t it? There’s a trauma processing that must be completed in order to move forward in life. When I was first diagnosed with endometriosis and a chronic pain condition due to a spinal injury, I had no idea nor was it explained to me that I was going to have to go through a continual cycle of insecurity. I was oblivious to the fact that I was going to have to live my life in a temperamental space. It is of my opinion that chronic illness patients do not fit easily into the usual experience of loss because our loss is not consistent. The future is unpredictable and so our stories are discontinued and resumed and this process repeats infinitely. Thus, we are forced to mourn each time and rebuild our futures anew holding our breath again that the house will not collapse with us inside. Our narratives remain disjointed and so without any desire for it we gain a level of complexity that is difficult to communicate and share with others even those we love the most. I don’t know if there is a way to rid ourselves of this anarchy that illness brings. What I am still learning is that inside this chaos we must pledge to coming out of the other side of it. We must promise to find our voice again. I have been away but now I am returning. Each one of us can say that. Although it may appear like a small triumph, I am proud of my return and I am proud of yours too.



11 Comments Add yours

  1. 1wisewoman1 says:

    This is beautiful. I especially like the sentence, “we are professionals at reconstruction and rebooting our future.” I love that. I’m glad you made a return and that I found you. Looking forward to building connections and support systems with people who have similar circumstances. Thank you!

  2. Just wanted to let you know that I came back to read this again today. It’s really relevant to something I am going through in my life right now, and it’s so good to know I’m not the only one who feels as though she has a different sense of time from other people.

    1. I am so glad that this post has meant so much to you. Starting to feel like I can write again after many health tribulations. Will send you an email, hopefully, later today.

      1. Yes, please do! 🙂

  3. Wow– this post took my breath away. I can relate to everything you said, especially the part about how “chronic illness patients do not fit easily into the usual experience of loss because our loss is not consistent.” I have been feeling the same way, and it sometimes makes it hard to know what to write about. I fear that if I were to chronicle every up and down, I would lose people– it would just be too confusing. So I try to condense it down, and only write about the things I am really sure about. To give shape to the narrative that is, as you put it, disjointed. I have to– if not for other people, for myself. I need to give my story meaning.

    Thank you for writing this. I’m so happy to have found your blog!

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for your comment. I am so happy that my words had meaning for you. I think as chronic pain and/or chronic illness we are forced to constantly reshape. We reshape our days, the structure of our thinking, our career path, our home, how we exercise…In short, there is nothing in our lives that is not rethought or reimagined. I think acknowledging that and once again reforming it into a strength or a place of courage is important. I look forward to reading more from you as well. I enjoyed many of your pieces. Wishing you light and joy.

      1. C., I would love to reblog this post, if it would be okay with you.

      2. You are very welcome to reblog any of my posts. I was actually working on a reblog of your post this weekend. I like to include a brief of a synopsis about the video and also about your blog. To be honest, I’ve been dealing with a terrible endometriosis flare that has been keeping me down both physically and emotionally so your comments and the fact that you find so much meaning in my blog has been a source of light. Thank you for that.

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