Monday, October 17, 2011

“I Coulda Been A Contender”

No, this is not some freaky ass rheumatoid arthritis contraption.  It's gloves for kickboxing.
I’ll admit it.  My last post was kind of down in the dumps.  And it was two weeks ago.  But things have changed.  Why?  Because I had to get off the couch.  I go through these phases, especially as the weather changes and my pain increases.  My couch becomes my own private island, with everything I need on it.  TV remote control, reading material, blanket…

But I can’t, and wouldn’t want, to stay on the couch forever.  So…

Coulda.  Woulda.  Shoulda.  But I didn’t.

And that’s not what I’m going to focus on.

If I were my coolest friend, this is what I would say to me right now: “WTF, biatch?  You are a contender.  YOU ARE A CONTENDER.”

And if there’s one thing that you know about me – although there is much to know – it’s that I don’t like feeling sorry for myself.  Because inevitably, in a pity party, it is only ever a party of one.

So often in dealing with chronic illness, it’s so easy to think about and lament our limitations.  We mourn all of the things that we cannot or are no longer able to do.  It is a much more positive, albeit more difficult task, to focus and capitalize on all the things that we can do.

In the last two weeks, two people that I went to high school with have died from drug overdoses.  This profoundly saddens me.  25 and 27 are far too young ages to die at.  But the thing that frustrates me the most is that, on some level, these deaths could have been avoided.  Of course, I don’t know what was really going on the lives of either of these people, and I don’t think we ever fully know what is going on in someone else’s world. 

But here we are.  Legions of chronically ill people, fighting everyday to get the most that we can out of the lives we have left. 

I think sometimes illness takes us out of life a little bit, along with taking the life out of us.  We feel like we are less, will be less, and will achieve less than our healthy counterparts.  But you know what?  I see a lot of healthy people around me doing a lot of stupid shit.  Stuff that certainly doesn’t make them a contender for anything other than the award for being an idiot.

I know, I’m being judgmental here, and not very congenial.  But the one thing I don’t ever want anyone to say about me is that I sat around and wasted my life – not because I was sick, necessarily – but because I was afraid of getting hurt or being let down.

Because the reality is, if you take yourself out of life in a metaphorical sense, you might not get hurt, but you won’t get loved, either.  And that is profoundly sad.

Maybe it’s the kickboxing.

Maybe it’s the hot pink feather in my hair.

The other day in kickboxing I was working with one of those resistance bands and I broke it.  Not sure how I managed that one.  I think my instructor was as surprised as I was. 

I don’t know exactly what it is.  But there’s going to be a sea change.  I can feel it with every fiber of my being.  It’s bubbling, right at the surface, ready to explode. 

Because for the first time since I got sick, and maybe even for the first time in my life, I feel empowered.  I feel like I have the ability to make my life, and the lives of others, better.    

I’m trying to live my life to the fullest, and not get too down on myself about the mistakes that I’ve made.  I’ll admit it.  There have been many in the last few years.  But the biggest mistake, in life and in illness, has been not putting myself first.  It’s been putting everything and everyone higher on the list than me.  And I fear that this may be my ultimate downfall.  It’s a hard habit to break, and it’s not totally an unselfish one.  I want people to like me, dammit.

During my non-college school years, I was never one of the cool kids.  I was dorky and awkward.  But, oddly enough, since I got sick and found the amazing community of chronic illness bloggers, I feel like one of the cool kids.  It’s odd to think that through illness, I found my niche.  My people.  My home.

I am normally a glass half empty kind of girl.  But right now I’m choosing to look at the glass as being half full.  My life is different than I anticipated it would be.  But for right now, I think I’m finally where I want to be.      

There’s no telling what adventure I’ll be going on next.

Writing a memoir…

Making a documentary…

Getting a tattoo…

The “Rocky” Steps…


Mount Everest…

The sky’s the limit.  There’s no stopping me now.

And as always, I hope that you will all be here, and join along with me for the ride.


  1. Empowerment is huge!!! I'm glad you are feeling excited and motivated. Love the pink kickboxing glove too ;-)

  2. You're so awesome, Leslie! It seems like nothing keeps you down for long. I really <3 that about you!

  3. I can utterly relate to: My couch becomes my own private island, with everything I need on it. TV remote control, reading material, blanket… But I can’t, and wouldn’t want, to stay on the couch forever. So…

    I have experienced this so many times along with the struggle to get up off the couch and back to work. I'm just in the process of finally getting a diagnosis (10 years after the serious pain started) and they're thinking SLE/Lupus or RA. Reading your blog made me think they might well be right! Roll on January and my next consultant's appointment!
    Thanks for writing,
    (PS I'm back off the couch, but still looking at it longingly occasionally...)