The Unpredictability of Chronic Illness

By Allison Jonergin

Having fluctuating symptoms means I might work for a few hours but use the drive-thru at the pharmacy on the way home.

It means I may walk into a grocery store feeling okay but walk out feeling desperate for a rest. I sometimes park in the furthest parking space so I can stretch my stiff legs, and I sometimes park in the handicapped spot.

It means I get irritated easily when my pain feels out of control, but may seem fine on the outside.

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Given that, my decision-making is typically geared toward lessening pain and conserving energy.

What does that look like? It looks like going to bed early and sleeping in. It looks like microwaved meals and a messy home. It looks like my dog’s brown eyes staring up at me, hoping today is the day she gets a walk. It looks like turning down an invitation because there isn’t enough time in my schedule to recover from the event afterward. It looks like I live in my bed.

So I’m protective, I’m stubborn, I’m sometimes hostile when faced with doing something I know will pique my pain and take days to recover from. I just want to live in this sacred space where my symptoms are a part of my life but don’t rule it.

There are times when I don’t want to treat my body lovingly. I avoid resting during the day. I eat the foods that trigger aggressive symptoms. I delay doing the exercises that help in the long run. Why? I get tired. I get tired of living a life dictated by health issues. I get tired of being responsible with my body. I lash out in anger at it for trapping me in a cycle of pain and exhaustion. I decide a burst of freedom is worth the onslaught of symptoms I’ll suffer later.

I’m usually wrong.

I’ve learned it’s better to live a life in which I employ my preventative measures steadily and with persistence. The only way to win the battle is to fight in the first place.

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