The past several months have been challenging. What started out as a one-time bout of iritis five years ago, returned…and stayed. When the inflammation spread from my eye to my joints, tendons, and muscles, I began various treatments, some with hard side effects. But life goes on in the midst of challenges and difficulties.
So how do I get back up when I’m down? Here’s what I’m learning:
1. Accept the situation: Accepting the fact that I have a debilitating auto-immune condition can be difficult because I have to be honest with myself. Yet, it’s the most important step on my journey to getting back up again. Acceptance doesn’t mean a fatalistic or defeatist attitude. It’s an acknowledgement of the reality of my situation and a determination to live life to the fullest despite it.
2. Set realistic goals: When I accept my situation, I can be realistic about my abilities and limitations. It helps set expectations--mine and those of my family and friends—and better prioritize where to spend my energy.
3. Take small steps: There’s nothing wrong with being unable to complete a task at one stretch--breaking it up into managable pieces is effective in getting the job done. Rather than cleaning the whole house as I used to, tackling a room at a time still gets the job done. It’s amazing how tiny steps help me reach my goal!
4. Accept help: A recent “Super Humans” episode on 20/20, chronicled paraplegic Chris Waddell’s attempt to climb Mt Kilimanjaro with his handtrike. When he reached rocky, slippery terrain, Waddell was disappointed that he needed the help of his porters. In response, his trainer counseled, “No one climbs a mountain alone.” How true! I can’t get back up again without a helping hand. In that process, I’m learning to be a gracious receiver. Others see the needs and are ready to help…I just need to accept.
5. Treasure each moment: Perhaps the best thing to come out of the last few months is realizing that life is a gift, each moment to be embraced. Sometimes I don’t know when a bout of medication-induced nausea will hit, how long it will last or how strong my hands or fingers may be. So I capture the good moments to create memories—whether it’s putting a puzzle together with my toddler, listening to my teen talk about fashion, writing a few paragraphs of an article or going out to feel the sun on my cheeks…I choose to embrace each moment and live because of the One who is Hope and Life!
Photo: graur razvan inonut; freedigitalphotos.net