How do you track an invisible illness?
This is a question I’ve failed to answer and a practice I’ve failed to perfect for over seven years. I’ve lost complete track of my illness. All of the symptoms have blurred together in my memory and don’t even ask about my illness timeline. I’ve lost all grip on years, dates and the order of events.
In some respects forgetting is actually a beneficial coping mechanism. If I could remember every step (and misstep) of this journey I would probably become discouraged. In this case, some ignorance is certainly bliss. Forgetting has kept me from being paralyzed by the past and the long road of progressive, chronic illness.
But there is a flip side to the forgetting/losing track coin. Now that I’m on the Lyme healing journey if I forget the severity, complexity and variety of my symptoms I won’t recognize when they start disappearing. When it’s all said and done, I won’t fully appreciate the healing or acknowledge how truly far I’ve traveled on my road to recovery. So in order to make sure I don’t miss a moment of healing I’m renewing my efforts to track my recovery progress.
With a pen and paper I determined to sit down and write any and every sign of improvement that came to mind. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was able to fill the lines. Muscle spasms severity and frequency cut in half… Optic disturbances reduced to an average of once a week instead of daily… Increased heat tolerance… Increased stamina in the evenings.
The simple act of tracking my healing progress opened my eyes to changes great and small, invisible victories and silent wins I nearly missed. By taking an improvement inventory I could see, recognize and rejoice in the exciting steps of healing and recovery underway in my body.
Give it a try, take an improvement inventory and track your invisible progress. I think you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that over the course of your fight you’ve not only been surviving Lyme, you’ve been beating it.
I know what you must be thinking (I used to think it, too). “Oh, how sad to be single while sick!”
Lyme coupled with singleness certainly sounds like a recipe for lonely nights. I used to assume that to be in love while sick would somehow soften the blow of the illness. I reasoned that it would be better to be comforted in the arms of love than to cry alone. I thought the life of Lyme would be better endured in love.
I don’t believe that anymore because I have come to understand that singleness in illness is not a curse. It can actually be a blessing and here’s why…
1. Enduring illness alone creates resilience, perseverance and character. This is Romans 5:3-4 in action. “Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Gathering the spiritual fruits offered on the road marked by suffering is a decision made individually. This is good news for the single! To gain perseverance, character and hope does not require a boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife. It requires walking the road of suffering with Christ!
2. Illness is stressful. Wait, maybe I put that too simply. Illness is gut-wrenching. It is heart-breaking. It will take you to the end of yourself and than take you even further. It will lead you to the edge of self-destruction. Sickness will cause you to think thoughts of death you never imagined your mind could produce. Now, try coupling that with a marriage or a relationship. Is it possible to have a lasting marriage or relationship in spite of chronic illness? Yes. Is it easy? Not a chance. For those of us who enter into illness as singles and find that we are lonely, remember that it would not necessarily be easier to be married. Being married and ill would be its own unique challenge.
3. Finally, being sick and ill is an opportunity to grow closer to God. There is more time to devote to studying His Word and more quiet time for prayer. By diving into God’s truth and His promises instead of pining for human contact and companionship the spirit is actually strengthened by the purest and only eternal love.
For those who find themselves chronically sick and chronically single I encourage you to rethink the state of your relationship status so that you can see the blessings to be had in your single Lyme life.
If you’re in need of some Lyme encouragement this Saturday evening I invite you to jump on over to Pippy Love and give Healing Currents a read.
Healing from Lyme comes in currents that can make you feel like you are pulled into a sea full of unknowns but take heart because God is in control. He directs the direction of your journey and will never abandon you. Trust in the Lord and relax in His arms, knowing that in His time He will carry you all the way back to shore.