Staying Resilient While Coping With An Illness

You need to keep moving and never let an illness drag you down and cause your life to sink into the gutter.

People seem to think bad things won’t happen to them. Either they are too smart to avoid a problem or just unbelievably lucky. I was one of those people for a long time. After traveling to hell and back a few times in your life you think: “Hey, I made it this far right?” From guns pointed in your face to getting smashed in car accidents, you go to bed thinking you’re invisible because you’re still here.

Then one morning you wake up and you can’t tie your shoes. You can’t hold a laptop. In fact, you’ve lost most of your dexterity and any strength period.

I went from a bad flu to catching some crazy post virus syndrome that caused a debilitating neurological disorder.

The doctors didn’t know what was wrong. I asked if could it be ALS? I received a blank stare and instantly thought my life was over. However, I received the blank stare because they just didn’t know what it was.

What I learned NOT TO DO

Don’t spend nights obsessing on internet forums, trying to self-diagnose. This only makes things worse. At that point, you start to think you have everything disease under the sun! But let me tell you, when you go from the point where you really think your life is over and the doctor tells you that you haven’t got ALS — and that you should recover in a year or two — you realize that suddenly whatever you had really wasn’t so bad.

Also, don’t cut your friends, family and co-workers out of your life while you’re dealing with your problem.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

What You Can Do Right

This is harder to do than it sounds, but you must keep moving. Letting yourself get down in the dumps and depressed will only make things worse. I could only type for a couple minutes at a time, but I did it as much as I could. I kept reading books. I was digesting whatever content I could, from movies and TV shows to podcasts — partly to keep me distracted, but to also keep me sharp.

Don’t allow yourself to fall off and get rusty. If you have ever been around someone that was really sick, you know how fast they lose their sharpness.

Stay in touch with friends, family and co-workers. Conversation can be healing, don’t allow yourself to sit around in a dark room feeling sorry for yourself. Stay connected to the people in your life, even if it’s just a couple of text messages here and there. Don’t wait for them to reach out, send off some messages and they will return.

Don’t lose sight of your job and career. Yes, you got tripped up for a little while but you may be back to work before you know it. It is also very easy to say: “I don’t want to push it” and I wouldn’t go against doctor’s advice if they advise you not to push it. BUT if they give you the green light, mash your foot on the pedal and go!

For example, I really enjoy tennis \ racquetball and weight lifting, but I kept telling myself I couldn’t revisit those passions yet. That I need to rest, and that I should slow down.

But the doctor said go, so off I went. I changed my outlook at that point. I told myself: “Maybe my hand doesn’t have the strength to hold the racquet but I am doing to duct tape the damn thing to my hand if I have to, and I am going to play today!” And did I go a full hour? No. But did I get in 15–20 minutes? YES! Seeing that I could do it, I realized I was just talking myself out of it. From there I slowly built up my strength again.

It’s just as easy to say you’re not ready to go back to work. Even if you just go for 2 hours a day, you have to go. Once you mix in procrastination with excuses, you can end up doing nothing for a long time if you allow this to happen. Yes you may have to ease back into work, but you have to just take one step and get started.

This is a short story about a much longer journey, but I wanted to share this life experience and simply say: regardless of what happens to you, keep moving, stay sharp and know tomorrow is coming whether you like it or not so be prepared to take your next step.

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