Remaining Strong in the Face of Chronic Illness

“Just because you carry it well, does not mean it’s not heavy”

I find myself thinking about this quote more and more frequently these days. Not sure if it’s lockdown impacting on my brain or the fact that life has been forever changed by the pandemic , but there is something to be said about kindness here.

Chronic illnesses do not go away just because the country goes into a lockdown. Nor do they go away when you are told to ‘shield’ in order to protect yourself from a very nasty virus. If anything, chronic illnesses have a tendency to flare up during period of isolation and stress; of which both are huge factors in a pandemic.

I found myself having to be stronger than ever before during lockdown. I was in this limbo land of not being ill because of my chronic illness, but experiencing a situation which was emergent – my parastomal hernia regularly obstructing my small bowel.

I have had my chronic illness for almost a decade now; I’ve had many experiences of having to be strong beyond what I would consider ‘normal‘ and I’ve had to push my mind and body through many barriers to get back to my own baseline. But, add a pandemic and a lockdown into the mix, it is certainly another level of emotions.

I managed pretty much all of my six months of symptoms with my hernia at home.

I only attended hospital for scheduled appointments with my surgeron and one afternoon in a SAU – Surgical Assessment Unit – to ensure it was not an emergency (it was not, thank goodness).

But did each day worry me? Yes.

Did I cry with pain on occasion because I wanted this to be over? Yes.

Did I fear my obstructions would become life threatening? Yes.

Was I prepared to go to hospital during the height of lockdown? Yes.

Was I also methodical and logical about my lead up to surgery? Yes.

All of these things made me strong.

And its how life with a chronic illness can be at times. Even during a national crisis. Sometimes we – the chronic illness community – deal with crisis’s without many people beyond our medical team knowing. Because, for some reasons, we don’t speak about them or let them be known to others. I think some of this is down to not wanting to panic others – we have seen what panic does to the general public! – and also a small allowance to be in denial.

It is hella tough being strong when your body is relentless in it’s new mission to hurt you.

So, how do you remain strong?

You learn – through, unfortunately, trial and error – to rest.

You find an outlet to vent your feelings.

You get a medical team that supports you throughout it all; highs and lows, the wins and the losses.

You have people around you to physically and emotionally pick you up. In whatever shape or form that comes in.

You appreciate the struggle for what it is – a struggle. It actually can come to an end, or subsides. Appreciate the glory that can be a moment of peace and tranquility.

A throwback – admission to hospital for my emergency ileostomy surgery (l) and six weeks later (r) – strong doesn’t always seem apparent on the surface.

Do you have any questions or queries? Or just want to share your own experiences?

You can leave me a reply here or leave comments via my social media accounts – on Twitter, find my blog page on Facebook and over on Instagram

If you enjoyed this post check out What Does Chronic Illness Rob You Of?, Fearful and Remaining Positive in the Face of [Chronic] Illness

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