One of the hardest parts of living with a chronic illness is the long list of life’s missed opportunities and adventures. Regrets over the long list of things you dreamed of doing but knew that you would never be able to do because your health would never allow it. And the frustration over the list of things you tried to do but had to give up because an ill-timed flair of pain left you bed ridden.
More times than I can count or want to remember I tried to reach my goal of becoming a doctor and failed. Several times under the influence of a brief pain free period I registered for class, only to have to drop days before the semester started because the intense aching of my bones had left me bedridden. Even when I managed to make it past the first hurdle and survive the add drop period, major infections, life-threatening allergy attacks, and overwhelming pain forced me to withdraw from one or all of my classes before the term was over.
Despite moving with the speed of a hibernating sloth, I continued on. Saving every ounce of my feeble supply of energy for my determined fight to reach my goal. Twelve years of faithful fighting and at last I had earned my A.A degree. But like a stubborn frog hitting his head against a brick wall, I still refused to give in. I still did not want to admit to myself that my dreams of becoming a doctor would never be reached. Time after time I waited for the wave of misery to pass so I could try again. Confident that I this time I would not make the same mistake that left had left me curled up in a useless ball of living pain. Promising myself that this time the outcome would be different and that at last I would realize my dreams. Trying to convince myself that if only I pushed a little harder, worked a little smarter I would make it. But each time my hopes and dreams for life had to be sidelined, postponed, and eventually abandoned as the list of missed goals, postponed hopes, and forgotten dreams grew longer and longer.
Finally the day came where I had to admit to admit to myself that my hopes of becoming a doctor had long ago crumbled. That no matter how hard I tried, I was not strong enough physically to handle the demands that would be required to make it to and then through medical school. The realization that another dream had bitten the dust and been added to my list of missed goals, opportunities, and life mile markers hit me hard. For several months I mourned the painful lost of that cherished goal upon which many I had hung my hopes of reaching so many other life goals. The sense of lost was so deep that often I felt that on that day an integral part of myself had died and been buried in the grave of lost hopes. Under the influence of that loss my list of missed opportunities, dead end dreams, and fading hopes rose up before me and I saw myself as a miserable failure. One who dreamed of reaching the stars, yet was incapable of lifting their hands above their heads. The chocking realization of my defeat rose before me like a crushing wave seeking to burry me deep in some uncharted ocean canyon.
Fortunately God has blessed me with a very understanding family. Because during that trying time as I struggled to make sense of my life, to find some reason or purpose for my existence, I fear that many times the ache inside left me terse. Each time I sought to give the most meager reason for my existence, the garish face of my list rose up with all the kindness of a haunting specter laughing at the fear of his blood drained prisoners.
And it remained that way until the day that God helped me to realize that I was concentrating on the wrong list. How could I help but feel small and useless if all I looked at was a graveyard of dead dreams and desires? How could do anything but become hopelessly depressed if I spent all of my time concentrating on all the mile markers of life that I failed to reach? I realized that if I continued down this course misery and depression would be the ultimate end. If I wanted to avoid that end I would have to stop looking at my old list and instead create a new list of hopes and dreams built upon the reality of my illness.
But with my uncertain health what could I do? For months my health would remain steady giving me the courage to register for school. But as if some invisible switch had been flipped, without warning it would begin to dissolve causing weeks of intense migraines, infections that dug in and turned into lymphatic infections despite being treated with several doses of antibiotics, months of slowly increasing shortness of breath, or nutrition limiting digestive misery.
What job could I get with my consistent record of health failure? No matter how hard I did work when I was well, it would not make up for the fact that for days and weeks a bout of pure misery would knock me to my knees causing me to miss days, weeks, and at times months of work. And what employer could or would be generous enough to put up with that?
If work was not the answer to my desperate search what was? Thanks to my all to routine misery, I had no social life to speak of. No circle of friends to spend an afternoon chatting over the interesting twist and turns of life. My little list of beloved hobbies such as playing the piano and flute, and learning to knit and sew were nearly forgotten. Like a rare book they sat on the shelf collecting dust, waiting for the spasmodic moment they would briefly be taken off the shelf and admired.
The one and only personal hobby that I semi routinely enjoyed was writing. As my sickness had progressed writing for my own personal amusement had become my release valve, a way to organize my thoughts, and express the ache of my lonely heart. Over the years I had grown to love writing because when I sat down at my desk or lay curled up in bed with my notebook, I did not have to be the chubby sick girl sitting shyly in a corner hoping that the teacher would not call on her for fear that she would be buried to deeply in a fog of pain to comprehend the question or to remember the answer.
But while I loved to write, what good would that love do? My shelf was already full of neatly lined notebooks filled with handfuls of poems that I had typed and printed. Clogging my small corner of life with rows of dear words that no eye but mine would ever peruse. While writing was a dear source of comfort, filling my shelves with poems, short stories, and books that no one but myself would ever read did little to establish a sense of self-worth. To have something to say other than I have been very sick, to the inquiring question of what do you do, or so where do you work?
It was around this time that I do believe that the Lord allowed me to stumble upon a You Tube video talking about how to start a Word Press. I had heard the term blogger before, but until that day I had no clue that such a site as Word Press existed that would allow a humble, nonprofessional as myself the freedom to share their thoughts and visions with the rest of the world.
A thrill of excitement ran through me as I thought of the possibilities. After a bit of thought I decided to give blogging a try by creating a light hearted sight based upon my dog Happy. After a couple of months I realized that I was having fun. That instead of spending my days mourning what I had been unable to do in life I was spending my time thinking of all the things I wanted to write about.
know that blogging will never replace my dream of becoming a doctor and helping people, nor will it completely erase the sting of regret in having such a long list of unachieved goals. I know that it is highly unlikely that any of my sites will become popular enough to earn money like some of the success stories I read about when learning more about Word Press. But that is not important. What is important is that I have found something to keep me busy. That will allow me to focus my mind not on the hurts and disappointments of life, but on the potential joys and mile markers still ahead.