Recently, one of my good friends got a tattoo to commemorate running her first marathon.
I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo for awhile, one that symbolically represents lupus and my illness journey. And my friend’s explanation got me to thinking about the fact that having lupus is like running a marathon…every day…for the rest of my life. Or living with any chronic illness really.
Acute illness is a sprint. You run hard and fast for a short period of time. You lose stamina, but you gain it back.
But chronic illness is a marathon. It’s a long haul. You need to learn how to pace yourself so that you’ll survive to the finish line.
Running a marathon takes discipline and training. It takes as much mental, as it does physical, agility.
While I may never actually take part in a “real” marathon – although I would like to try to walk a half-marathon at some point – I think the analogy of chronic illness as a marathon is a fitting one.
And some of the advice for marathon runners is fitting for “sick” people, too: get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water, practice self-care, and always wear comfortable shoes.
It’s hard to imagine that people who want and put their minds to running a marathon get tired of training. But they do. So just imagine how chronically ill people feel. They’re training for something they didn’t ask and weren’t prepared for.
So if we think about the courage and strength it takes runners to undertake such a feat, it should give us hope (and pause) about the courage and strength that we, as chronically ill people, have to get through each and every day.
We don’t always make it through on the top of the leader board. Sometimes our illnesses get the better of us. But ultimately, we push through and move on. And if we think of each day as a leg of the journey, we always have our eye on the prize and are focused on the end goal, whatever that may be.
(And in case you’re wondering, the jury is still out on my tattoo. I know what I want to get, and where on my body I want to get it, but there’s something that’s holding me back. I’m not sure what it is, really. A tattoo is so permanent. But then again, so is lupus. And lupus wasn’t a choice. So stay tuned…)