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Reflections from the Other Side

After just over three years in bed, on March 23 2006 I suddenly made a dramatic improvement. From being able to walk poorly with a walker that morning, in the afternoon I was able to walk confidently around 30m with the walker, to stay up for about four hours and even to do some weeding in the garden! This new state of affairs has lasted a couple of months now, during which time my capacity has increased as my physical strength returns, although my need for several long bed rests per day remains. The change has been dramatic, and I thought others might be interested in my reflections from the other side of this illness divide.

Firstly, it has validated my illness experience. I have constantly struggled with the thought that if I just cared a little more, was a little less lazy and a little less selfish then I wouldn't need so much help and wouldn't waste so much of everyone's time. However, without any noticeable improvement in my caring, laziness or selfishness, I now simply need less help. It wasn't that I was bad, it was that I was sick. Hopefully I will remember this should my condition worsen again!

Secondly, recovery was remarkably scary. I have been ill throughout my engagement and marriage - would my husband love this new wife? (The answer appears to be very much yes!). Could I cope with a world full of people after being isolated and alone so long? Could I give as well as take after so long of mostly taking? After the initial excitement wore off, these questions left me very frightened and tearful. My emotions have taken much longer to adjust to the change than my body has. I need to listen to my body and only do what I think I can cope with. So far I can cope with small gatherings, but larger gatherings, especially those from which I can't readily leave at any time, are off limits. Most significantly this means that I still can't attend church, but many other outings have become possible.

I also have had to get used to a new kind of body. Before, I knew I was too tired and had to lie down when my lips went tingly and then I started to feel nauseous. Now, I can keep going for ages and my lips don't go tingly or anything. This resulted in many days when I seriously overdid things before I learnt again what 'tired' felt like.

It's a new, glorious, and scary world!

June 2006