Thursday, March 17, 2011

For All We Know...

“[…] For all we know
This may only be a dream
We come and we go
Like the ripples of a stream […]”

- “For All We Know,” Donny Hathaway

Illness has changed my life in tangible and intangible ways. For all I know, it may be simultaneously the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. It has given me perspective.

I think it’s easy to think about the things we can’t do because of illness. But it’s harder to think of the things that illness has allowed us to do. This is a much more introspective task.

Illness has shown me that I possess strength within me, but I do get tired of hearing that such and such experiences will make me stronger. Maybe I’m strong enough already, maybe I’m not that strong at all.

Illness has taught me how to fight, not in battling the disease, but in fighting for myself, and the treatment I deserve in all aspects of my life.

In illness, as in life, you have to pick your battles wisely. You have to be willing to fight the good fight, but also know when to step away and let others take the reins.

Illness has taught me, as I have discovered recently, that I’d take physical over emotional pain any day.

Illness has taught me not to hold back, to share my feelings, and love with my whole heart, body, and soul. And that makes me a far different person than I was before I got sick. Sure, I had crushes on guys, but I never really put it out there. Now, I grab the bull by the balls (pun intended). Yes, the bull, and yes, by the balls (my girlfriends will understand this).

The main thing illness has taught me is that we can’t control everything. For all we know, this could be our last day on earth. For all we know, we might live another 80 years. Those of us who are chronically ill feel the ticking of time more acutely, the need to make every day, every minute, every hour count.

I don’t think it was until I got sick that I realized I really wanted to have children. It’s like discovering I didn’t have the body I wanted, made me realize that I may never have the life I wanted. With the reality, at least in the beginning, that I may not live long enough or be healthy enough to have children.

With my ex-boyfriend, I even considered and almost relished the concept of being a stay-at-home-mom, of leaving academia behind for the most important role of my life.

Recently, several people have made the comment to me that you don’t have to have a man to have children. But the problem is, there are going to be real physical challenges. As much as I want a child, there is no way that I would do that as a single parent, knowing that there may be times I won’t physically be able to care for a child.

Illness has made me realize that the little stuff doesn’t matter. It has shown me to take absolutely nothing for granted.

When life gets too hard and I think that I can’t, I just keep telling myself “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, but at least I tell myself I can before telling myself I can’t.

Ultimately, if there is one thing that illness has done for me, as the name of my blog suggests, it has brought me closer to myself.


  1. I love this post! One of the best moments since my diagnosis of RA & Fibro was realizing how much having these illnesses has given me in terms of quality of life and time that prior to this phase I was letting slip away.

    Once you come to terms with the fact that your chronic illness may have taken some of your control and may have made big changes in your life- some of those changes are pretty terrific; you can handle anything it throws you way.

  2. Wow...This is all I can say.

    You're such an inspiring person. Please, never stop writing.

  3. Leslie, you are inspiring.
    I pray that you will find love and happiness. You deserve that much.

  4. Bravo! :) I have to say that though I am a caregiver without RA myself, I still go through quite a bit of the emotions & thoughts that you hit on. I never thought I would be this strong, or have to be. I learned all about perspective because if I didn’t, I’d be so sad for my little one that I don’t think I’d be of any help to anyone. I think about her life span, her future ability (or possibly inability) to have children. RA makes you stop and think about what’s important. I have managed to not only dig my way out of a deep depression, but find my way to fulfillment by helping others through our hardest times. I think that people need to read things like this because it’s easy to get lost in your own world. Many people can't see the blessings because they're so focused on the bad. But sometimes just reading posts like yours can help those people to see things in a different way. :) Please keep blogging, & when you can, keep posting positive posts like this! Thank you!

  5. Not everyone gets closer to themselves. That is an achievement in and of itself.
    People often say "What does not kill us, makes us stronger." For folks with chronic illnesses, we have to be strong because our illness might kill us, or "kill" the life we thought we would have.
    We have to make new choices, choose new futures, new goals and directions. But in the process, we grow, we learn, we connect, we become part of a community of supportive, understanding folks whether in the real or virtual world.

  6. Inspiring post. To your success and happiness, Ms. Leslie - you know yourself and you have found the strength to carry you to these. Best to you.

  7. Hi Leslie,

    Great post! Control--or, lack of it--is one of the hardest things about living with chronic illness. You do all you can and still, so much is out of your hands.

    The little stuff does not matter. I sometimes need to remind myself of that (interesting timing--my most recent post was all about what doesn't matter and, more importantly, what does.)

    Anyway, I agree that yes, you don't need a man to have a kid but with chronic illness, it's much more complicated. You need a support system already built in, and as many have discussed when I've written about it, you need a village. That could take many different shapes, but to be fair to yourself, your body, and your child, it needs to be there somehow. I could go on and on about this so I will stop here...

    Hope you are doing okay these days!

  8. I found your post really touching and I love your attitude! I also feel like having fibromyalgia and other conditions have brought me closer to myself. It has made me focus on all the small things that bring joy to my life, but also I'm much more in-tune with my physical body. I need to consider it when makings plans and keep checking in with it along the way. Not to mention, all the physical attention I give my body, helping it be the best it can.