Life has been a whirlwind of activity lately, and since May I’ve:
– graduated from college
– ran a half-marathon with MDA Team Momentum
– moved back to my hometown
– spent a week volunteering at MDA Summer Camp
– started two new part-time jobs working with youth summer recreation programs.
EDS has also been along for the ride on this journey, and caused some excitement of its own in my life. Since May I’ve also :
– used a wheelchair for the first time to conserve energy and reduce pain while visiting a museum with a friend
– injured the already worn cartilage in my right knee
– started physical therapy for my knee (again) along with my spine at my favorite clinic
– joined an Adaptive Cycling program, where I am learning to handcycle
– started wearing finger splints to reduce pain in my hands from hyperextension
Both lists are a highlight of what I’ve been up to recently and things I am proud of (minus the new knee injury), yet it’s the first list I find myself sharing with others because it is easier to understand. My second list might seem to describe ways EDS has intruded further into my life, but in reality these are moments I chose to be in control. They are times I accepted that asking for help does not make me weak. They are good moments. Having a chronic illness helps me recognize the importance of finding the good in each day. Not every day is great, but I believe good can be found in each day. Sometimes my highlight is just being able to sit without pain for 15 minutes while other times it’s attending an event with friends without being distracted by symptoms.
Celebrating accomplishments, whatever they look like, can get us through anything. I believe our simple accomplishments should be celebrated the same as our large ones. In the midst of a tough day, where my biggest accomplishment might only be not needing to take extra pain meds, it’s dangerous to think that this isn’t enough. Whatever your accomplishment is in this moment, celebrate it and trust that it is enough.
Another powerful part of staying in the moment is it’s ability to calm our worries about the future. I struggle with this one a lot, but I work hard to calm my mind by staying present in today. I’ve recently started the “trek” of working with my medical team to determine the cause of some symptoms that have plagued me this past year, resulting in unexplained weight loss and prolonged periods of feeling unwell among other things.
As a result, I have been scheduled for a set of outpatient diagnostic procedures next week that require me to be put under general anesthesia. Although I have responded fairly well to anesthesia during prior surgeries, patients with EDS have an increased risk of complications, meaning every procedure carries a slightly higher risk than average. It is this part that scares me, but I trust in the medical team caring for me. I’ve also never had these tests performed, which only adds to the unknown. I don’t usually enjoy the unknown parts of life, and this procedure definitely falls into that category. However, staying grounded in the known facts and gratitude of today helps take the worry away about tomorrow.
As my favorite Harry Potter quote reminds us,
“What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Time passes whether we want it to or not, so it’s best I focus on today and meet the future with a brave smile when it comes.