What it feels like

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I've been trying to stray farther from my health issues around here lately, but this particular monologue has been swirling around in my head today, so I'm just going to go ahead and put it out here.

Lately, people are taking notice of my health.

They are noticing that I am missing work. That I have been to the doctor probably 15 times in the last month and that I'm just not the person I have been or used to be.

It's frustrating because I try, especially at work and in real life, to keep a happy-ish face on and push on regardless of what is going on. I don't talk to most of my co-workers about my health because I usually get the well-intended, but ultimately unkind replies of, "you're always sick!" or "something's always wrong with you." Or my favorite, "what is it this time?"

I wish I could easily explain what it is to not be healthy, but I can't. Every time I write out the words, they just sound so dramatic that I end up holding the "delete" key until I'm staring at a blank screen again.

Being unhealthy is remarkably frustrating. I have to acquire a substitute to come teach/watch my class at least once a week right now. I have to plan significantly ahead and I have to get clearance from my administrators when I know more than a day in advance of an appointment. I have limited paid sick-days and everyone is very understanding, but that doesn't mean that I don't constantly feel like I'm not keeping up my end of my job contract. I feel like I'm that teacher that everyone hopes they don't have to deal with because I'm never there. I also have to face questions from my students and realize that my inability to be at school as often as other teachers is affecting their education. It is my job and I am struggling to do it.

The pain is physically taxing. Being in pain, even in a localized place, is not a local problem. Pain affects your entire body and your entire system is disrupted.

The pain is mentally and emotionally taxing. I want to be normal. I want my life back. My mom and I had a series of conversations last week where we tried to come up with what it was that we did wrong. My mother feels that she's to blame, I feel like I've done something wrong. But what was it? Surely we can trace this back somewhere. I was a normal kid, a normal high schooler, so when did this start? Why can't I regain the life I had?

The pain is limiting. Somedays I want to do things, even when they don't seem like the best idea, because it is difficult to miss out on so much. I want to go to the gym and exercise, but I can not walk normally with this foot pain and even swimming for exercise is out of the question. I want to go shopping or just get out of my house, but the combination of foot and head pain makes it just not realistic.

I hate this. I hate the sympathy that people kindly offer when I do talk about this stuff. I don't want sympathy. Please don't misunderstand me, I appreciate it and I know it's what you're supposed to do, but I want to be normal. I want to fade into the background and not stand out for my freakishness. I want people to come here and read this blog because I'm entertaining, or interesting, not because they're concerned about me. I hope that doesn't sound unkind. I don't want you to stop reading, I just wish you were here on different terms. I wish I was here on different terms.

I guess more than anything else, I just really want to remember what it's like to be me again.


Lipstick Jungle said...

I know how you feel. A year of kidney problems have now pushed me into a great unknown that is miserable. Today add a cold from hell with multiple symptoms all at once, and well, mama is not pleasant today.

Take care lady!

Ness said...

I am going through that "wanting to be normal" hell with my daughter now and because you were gracious enough to share your journey, it makes her feel a little less alone in the 24/7 sickness world, and also it has made me more proactive and opened my eyes even wider to the fact that doctors can be jerks in Illinois as well as in New Orleans and tomorrow when I go up against my daughter's neurologist to push forward with a plan I have I hope to have a tenth of the strength you have shown with your health struggles while being a working woman, a wife and a human being. The way you are handling all the lemons that are being thrown at you is a testimony to others who are walking on a path similar to yours. Thank you Katie for sharing.

Flea said...

If your head weren't killing you. I'd recommend beating it against a wall. I spent a semester doing that in college and it really helped. Otherwise, I commend you on continuing to move forward. Don't give up, Katie.

Leigh C. said...

What Flea said.

Hang in there, do what you can.

And "What is it this time?"????!!!???

What troglodyte says THAT? I'd take out your frustrations on that person first.

Anonymous said...

I can't even begin to understand what you are going through on a day to day basis. I have been ill for the past 2 and half weeks, and it is NO where near the length nor dare I say severity and it has taken so much out of me. I can only imagine what it is like for you. You actually seem to deal with it gracefully all things considered!!

Anonymous said...

If I had half your grace in my everyday, non-sick/pain life that you have while sick and in pain, I'd be elgible for sainthood. You definitely deserve sainthood, but I bet you'd rather just be healed. I'll keep praying for that, though these words seem awfully empty and trite, don't they?

Anonymous said...

I'm sitting here in tears as your latest blog is the story of my life and i can SO relate to you. I even have the same scar on the back of my head/neck as you do. I have lost myself as well. Let's rally and get "us" back! I guess we just keep plugging along.........no more...no less....
Take care Katie xo

Anonymous said...

This must be the best blog I've ever read about pain and being ill. And it helps me, Els (from Amsterdam, Holland), trying to cope with my situation. I hope this comment will help you in a small way.
Take care!