To Your Health, Part II (the really rocky road)

??????????????????????????????? While I’ve adjusted to my chronic health condition, an auto-immune disease so rare that only 400 people in the US have been diagnosed with it in the past 20 years, I still struggle with facing death. Eventually it will come, whether with warning or not; and I hope it’s far in the future, after I finish the 20 or so novels I have planned.

But I have a number of friends who are living with much more serious diagnoses. As I’ve watched them move first from verdict to acceptance, I think they become more aware of the “one day at a time” philosophy and value the flow of life and the good things they have. One man, whose relationship with us extends over many years but has been extremely casual, now takes the time to add a word of thanks for a meeting. Several others now meditate regularly and mention the peace and joy they gain.

Perhaps once you’ve faced death, you don’t fear it. I think about other extreme situations that can occur in life—divorce, getting fired, going broke. I know (from some experience as well as observation) before these incidents happen, you can feel terrified, paralyzed. After you get through them, you no longer panic.

So I’m trying to view the cycle of life and death as a propitious* AFGO. That’s the term coined by a former boss for every new challenge—Another Freakin’ Growth Opportunity. Live and learn, right?

* Propitious: favorable, auspicious.


Can poor health be a blessing in disguise?

I’ve begun asking myself this question as I faced some thorny changes in my own wellbeing, caused by nothing I did nor anything a doctor could pinpoint.  I’ve always been disgustingly fit with the exception of a little extra weight.  I gave up smoking years ago, ate well, and maintained a schedule of fairly active exercise.  In spite of doing all the right things, I developed an autoimmune condition (I refuse to call it a “disease”) affecting my legs, which no treatment can cure.

The first thing people usually do immediately after a confronting a negative situation like this—right after denial, of course—is to ask “why me?”  I skipped that stage, believing that most occurrences in life result from random chance rather than a superior being who’s directing the universe and is susceptible to appeals.  Still who can be happy if your body doesn’t respond to commands and discomfort is constant?  Not I.  

I do know that several broken bones and a major root canal convinced me that good health is better than any kind of drugs.  It’s the most important contributor to our quality of life.  So when I fell over cliff of a chronic ailment, I expected my life was pretty much ruined.  

I was wrong.  A chronic malady can bring unexpected benefits.  One is that I’ve learned to push through or over physical discomfort, a kind of personal challenge much like glorying in the labor and delivery of child birth.  Another is valuing the present moment while I still can move with some ease to take walks, ride bikes, and dance, which may be limited in the future.  

The biggest benefit is realizing that I’m experiencing a bit of what many people go through.  No longer do I pooh-pooh the pain of arthritis, question the distress of a bad back or knees, overlook the irritation of sinus problems.  These tribulations are part of the human condition for many, and I’m no longer exempt.  I understand my fellow creatures better.  

So I try to view my troubles as learning disguised as a life event.  And as long as they’re not life-threatening, I can deal with them. Would I react differently if my condition was portentous*? I’ll ponder that question next.  

*Portentous: very serious and significant, especially with regard to future events.