Balancing life and a chronic illness


Imagine this… You are chronically ill, but every time you have a physical setback, your body can heal itself without input from your GP, neurologists, hospitals…

Our mind has the power to heal heartache and/or to show strength in times of need, yet our bodies lack that magnificent paradox. The answer lies in how we look at our emotions; are they your friend, or foe? And how do you view your physical body?

After some feeble attempts trying to write a few paragraphs the past few weeks, I was sent back to the drawing board after each occasion. Not good enough. Already done this. Needs more research. Too tired.

You know moments like these; you sit down, determined to physically squeeze ink out of your pen. Cup of coffee to your right, extra pen to your left in case a writing bug takes over. After four sentences, you grab that coffee as if it’s the last coffee on earth, and wait for its energy to kick you into gear. Instead, you wait and wait, hoping your half-closed eyes will open at some stage.

Sadly, that is my reality.

Seamus Heaney once said, “Writing is a snapshot of consciousness”. Last week, that snapshot felt like a slow-motion film, and I was semi-conscious at best. I could hardly make sense of myself during those few moments I tried to put pen to paper.

I even wondered if writer’s block was the cause.

“It must be,” said that little voice in the back of my mind.

Whatever its identity, writing and life just didn’t feel like hanging around for a while. My usual sheer determination seemed ever so slow. Secretly though, I started to enjoy that silence, and the slow search for words  that accompanied that pace.

Reality… Is there even such a thing?

One of my favourite quotes comes from the Talmud, “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.” We view life through our own preconceived perception, and we each live a different here and now. Our views are built on our own experiences, and we each share common ground as much as we don’t share similarities.

(Note to self: philosophizing while feeling drained is so no-can-do,  babe).

Long-range objectives are not that long-range in my life. They come in bite-size pieces, and usually start with, “Hhmm… I might do this next week…,” with “this” ranging between “sleeping well” and “taking over the world”. I consider my plans as fluid, stretchable, and very independent of what I want, and mostly based on how MS impacts my body at that point in time.

As a result, my reality means I sometimes have to take it as it comes. Last week for example, I had to take it hour by hour. At the same time, long-term I have to convince people of my will and ability to perform certain things.

Oh, you can bet I am willing, I am usually more than willing. When physical restraints curb your potential, you realise that you want so more from your own life, and out of your own reality. Life is moving forward outside your medically induced world, and you feel annoyed when healthy people don’t realise the worth of their bodies, their unused potential.

It simply reminds you that being chronically ill sucks.

It’s energy being depleted in all the wrong places. There is no uptake to being ill. There is no room for maneuvering when you’re faced with an illness that will -quite literally- be there until you draw your last breath. Do take it from someone who’s already stared death in the face because of it; it is so not all it’s cracked up to be, honey.

Balancing life and a chronic illness is not a slight, five-minute task. It’s hard work, and at the same time, it’s sincerely loving life despite all your shortcomings. It often is an act of survival also. Reality is different for us all, but it’s what you do with your perception of yourself and others that will determine how you will manage.

I ask myself one last time, “Is it writer’s block?”


It’s reality.

Reality at its best.

So be thankful for your family, be grateful to your friends.

Be thankful for those living angels that care for you in hospitals, GP surgeries, hospices and at home.

And whatever you do with your own reality, be the best version of yourself you can be.

©WVE and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to WVE and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Pingback: [Throwback Thursday] Balancing life and a chronic illness | Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me

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