I am excited to have a beautiful warrior from the Chronically Hopeful Facebook page guest blogging for us today! “Ellie is a 45 year old woman living in South Carolina. She has battled Malignant Multiple Sclerosis with grace and courage. She works as a cashier, but is always dreaming of more, she’s just not sure of what more is. Her favorite hobbies are reading, writing and yarn crafts. Her biggest hope in blogging is to help no one ever feel alone in their journeys with chronic illness, or anything else.” Please check out her blog here.
She never wants to meet me for lunch. It’s the only time my health will mostly fully allow me to socialize outside the home. My friends know this. She never answers my phone calls. That email has been sitting there unread for days. He won’t answer my texts, but he’s all over social media with all those silly memes. The phone shouldn’t ring off the hook every time I call for an oil change appointment only for me to come home to 3 messages on the answering machine asking why I haven’t scheduled my service appointment.
There’s no reason I can see for me to be number 68 of 123 on hold for a customer service rep when I call to try and straighten out yet another medical bill. Yet I am. It’s only more aggravation added to a life already made extra stressful by multiple serious and chronic illnesses. Can’t people act right if they’re going to be a blip on my radar? Don’t I deal with enough already just fighting to live?
There’s something I’m forgetting in the throes of all these medical appointments, treatments and pain- the world won’t stop spinning because I’m always in pain. It won’t even slow down a little. I have to jump up on the ride while it’s spinning, full turbo blast speed ahead. Sometimes there’s a kind passenger already onboard willing to help out, but not usually. I must adjust and remember that people in my life are more than just blips on my radar, even the people just passing through and the strangers I encounter.
In a life full of illness and pain and the extra stress and hardships they cause, people are everything. My city is in the midst of a big cold snap with high temperatures in the 30s. I was sitting outside the library to cool off because my body doesn’t regulate temperature the same way as “normal” people. There was a shirtless man in shorts walking by on the sidewalk. He was singing loudly until a police officer pulled up beside him in his cruiser. I wondered if there was going to be some kind of huge scene because the lyrics the man was singing were not the nicest ones.
There was no scene. The police officer talked to him quietly and then reached back in his cruiser and put a coat on the man. They then got in the car together like they were friends. I hope they went to a shelter if the man needed it.
Many years ago I was grocery shopping with my mom and saw a woman crying in the store. We asked if she was ok. She said yes and we didn’t press the issue, but it didn’t look like she was ok. We carried on with our shopping and rounded a corner and there was the woman full on sobbing sitting on the floor in the produce section. The store manager was on his knees beside her praying. It seemed to help her.
Many years later, this event is still having a profound impact on my life. I didn’t know religion in any way at the time. I was dead set against it, actually, and quite vocal about my lack of faith. Time has changed that, and recently I went back to this store to see if that manager was still there. He was. He too remembered the crying woman. I told him what an impact it had on me. The conversation I had with this manager will stay with me forever, and well, is too private to share, but it, and the crying lady were a huge stepping stone on my path to a faithful life.
Please remember that as we go through life with disease and pain that everyone is going through something. Illness that doesn’t go away does not make our pain different than anyone else’s. It may mean there’s less of a break, but pain is in the eye of the beholder, everyone feels it differently. Just like beauty, and that is a beautiful thing.