Whenever someone visits or lives in a place where snow has recently fallen, I ask them to “throw a snowball for me.” It was one of my favorite things to do, when I lived in blizzard-prone places, and I still like the vicarious glee of thinking of one of those cold orbs arcing across the sky.
But when it comes to chronic illness, the snowball is less appreciated, but often not understood by people who do not have chronic health conditions. Here’s what I mean: You wake up with the sniffles. Cold? Allergy? Just is? Who knows. But the sniffles become a cough. The cough turns to a hack. Normal temperature climbs up. Energy plummets. Aches set in. Ah, the flu.
So, you call your doctor and deal with the flu.
A few days later, however, the cough has become something like an accordion in your chest. And you’re not a musician. Your temperature climbs some more. You can barely lift your head off the pillow, but…
You drag yourself to the doctor, the imaging center, back to the doctor. Ah, pneumonia.
So, you add that on top of the-end-of-the-flu. You get more meds. You drag yourself home. You take the meds. Your stomach feels funny. Oh, no. Bad reaction to the meds.
You call your doctor. From the hospital.
A few days later, you’re home. You’re better. You’re worse. You’re better. You’re not-so-better.
Your doctor examines you for the umpteenth time. The flu is gone. The pneumonia is under control. BUT, your “underlying” chronic illness is now in a full flare. You consider buying a timeshare in your local hospital or pharmacy parking lot. You opt for asking a friend to do a supermarket run for more tea, toilet paper, tissues, and a fresh toothbrush. Your friend agrees, then visits for hours, catching you up on all the news. Your friend is a saint. An exhausting saint. With a gorgeous halo. That stirs up a migraine. A bad migraine.
You’re back in the hospital again, calling your doctor (you’ve talked with him more in the past four weeks than anyone else in your speed dial directory). The words, “How long, oh, Lord, how long?” figure prominently in the discussion, but you don’t remember much else on account of the migraine meds and brain fog.
Days later, you’re back at home. You’re wiped out. Spent. A shadow of your former self. Your cat doesn’t recognize you. Your children are running amok. Your spouse has tried to learn to cook. Badly. You see all that you have to do to catch up, get back to where you were before six weeks ago, and you’re already overwhelmed. Overwhelmed and ah…ah…ah-choo!
Okay, where are the tissues your good friend brought over the other week?
To mold and throw a good snowball, it takes a bit of engineering, a bit of strength, and a sense of glee. So, too, the chronic illness snowball – we roll with it, navigate through it, and, in the end, are most successful with the experience if we add in a heaping portion of humor to melt away the chill.
Blessings for the day,