Being Chronically Ill at Christmas

Each year I am so thankful I make it to the festive period and survive it.
Christmas for me is a time to reflect and see what I’ve been through. It gives me strength for the year ahead. We can draw a line under what has happened and focus on continuing my good streak. That’s what it always feels for me; I am in a game with my health, praying nothing goes wrong, praying I don’t catch something, praying I make it through another season without an admission.
This year I look back and despite having had two surgeries and many months of agony, I am not hateful or woeful.
I am extremely thankful.
Isn’t it ironic that to see what you’re most thankful for you have to go through something awful? I know that my surgeries might not be the ‘most awful thing ever’ but to me, in those bleak moment, it was awful. Those days unable to eat, unable to drink, feeling weak and feeble, dependent on everyone else helping me, not knowing if I needed medical attention or just waiting it out. You already know how my summer ended, with my ostomy being created.
But those months in between surgeries and even leading up to the first one, I was in agony and I did wonder what on earth I had been doing before hand to let it get so bad. But I needed to hear it wasn’t my fault and that it was just my disease, it couldn’t be helped but it could be fixed. It would be fixed. It would need fixing twice, but it would be fixed.
I would be fixed.
So who do I thank and how do I thank them?
That’s something for another day, another post. Another train of thought.
Being chronically ill at Christmas is different than any other time of the year because it is hard to shy away from being sociable. It hard to be away from family and loved ones. I am not necessarily forced into be out and about but I do feel that obligation pulling at me to with people who love me, so I can show and tell them that I love them too.
Being ill yesterday – or any day surrounding Christmas – is hard. You have to muster strength and mental ability to get your body through the day. I struggled abit but I slept well for it. Sleep is so important this time of year for me. What else is key is maintaining a regular routine; eating breakfast at the same time, trying to stick to the ‘correct’ foods and not indulging too much. This has been key most years but even so much more now with the new ostomy. I have to keep hydrated. I haven’t restricted myself in food or drink but I’ve been sensible and thoughtful about what I’ve had. The only thing that is some times unavoidable is the time we have been eating, but I respect that aspect and allow it to be more flexible at this time.  I am just happy to be here, in the presence of my family and not in hospital. I am healthy and grateful.
Being ill now has a slightly different meaning, but by no means will it go away. I will always have issues but I am learning to be better informed, take more of an interest in my body and respect that my IBD will always be around, it would be cured. Accepting ‘my fate’ hasn’t been easy but I am not fighting against my body. I am fighting to save it from being or getting worse.
Each day is one more chalked up for a win over my illness. Every. Single. Day.  For both my ostomy and my IBD, each day is a learning experience. There isn’t always something to battle or to win over but it is one more days with my illness than without it.
I am here despite having a chronic illness. I am here because I have an ostomy. I am so relieved that I am.
NB: Originally posted on Safe Space here.

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