Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sharing The Spotlight

I’ve never been the type to enjoy the spotlight. Growing up, I went to a school that hosted two school wide theatrical performances each year and I loved being involved in the behind the scene productions. Designing and making props, making sure everyone had their costumes and made it out on time, coordinating the sound and timing of the performances, I just loved it all. I usually had a part or two on the stage also, but the bright lights and nervous jitters just weren’t my cup of tea. Yet, here I am in the spotlight again, although this time with the bright lights of one exam table after another and the jitters of waiting for appointments, test results and future procedures.

As frustrating and scary as being chronically ill is, working hard to look for the positives in a trying experience can teach you a lot. Personally I’m learning to ask for help when I need it, and cultivating the humility to accept that help even on the days I feel I don’t need it (because if I'm perfectly honest with myself I can ALWAYS benefit from a little extra help). My faith and endurance have surpassed any level I’ve ever imagined and it gives me the strength to push through the tough times. I’m also working hard to find productive ways to pass time. Sitting around feeling sick sucks, so keeping my mind active helps me not to focus so much on how I’m feeling physically or my fears of the future.

Being chronically ill also puts you in the “spotlight” of other people’s minds, especially your family’s. “How are you feeling?” “Is there anything I can do for you?” “What’s your pain level today?” “When’s your next doctor appointment?” “Is it time to refill your prescriptions?” I am so grateful to have a family that willing and lovingly tends to me making sure I’m as comfortable as possible, but I find myself often wishing there was more I could do for them. I’m not working so I can’t help with the bills, especially my never ending medical bills. I’m not allowed to drive again yet so I can’t run errands, take myself to the doctor, or help pick my little brother up school. I quickly realized focusing on all the things I couldn’t do was only good for making myself feel pretty useless and decided to get off the pity potty and find things I could do.

For example, now that I’m gaining more energy I can help with the chores. Washing towels, making beds, and emptying the dishwasher may seem like little things, but I saw a quote recently on Instagram that said “Little things add up.” When my family is coming home from a long day of work or school, it’s nice that they can relax and have one less thing to worry about. I’ve also been working hard to put the spotlight on them. “How was your day?” “How are you feeling today?” “Is there anything I can help you with?” Family and friends of people who are ill spend so much effort taking care of that person that it’s often a great way to return the favor by simply showing interest in them and working hard to support their goals. That could mean being their sounding board for new ideas, helping manage their to-do list to keep them organized, or making breakfast or lunch so they can get out of the house on time. Again, the little task truly do add up to save time for them and to show how much you care. We Spoonies may not always be able to do much, but using our energy to support those who support us is never a waste of spoons. (See “Hi, My Name’s Simon'e and I’m A Spoonie” to learn about the Spoon Theory.)

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