Did you ever go to a dance and try to slow dance on a crowded floor with the aim of just getting from one side of the hall to the other? Have you found that each time you moved in one direction, you ended up further back than when you started? You are moving, and think you are going forward, but when you look up from focusing on dancing you see that you have moved in the wrong direction?
This is what it can be like with Chronic Illness.
Derek has been trying to get his fitness up. Each time he tries, he gets sick, either a cold, general fatigue, pneumonia (this last one). It takes a long time to recover from each illness.
The problem is, he takes 1 or 2 steps forward in his fitness, and bam, he is knocked down with something. It then takes him a month to recover enough to try and get fit again. The problem is, that month has not only taken away the fitness he had achieved, but it has also wiped out another part of what little he had started with.
For example, we have recently bought him a Fitbit. It’s a fancy pedometer. We set it so that each day Derek must do 6000 steps.
When he began, he could easily do 5000, and had to make a little effort for the last 1000. He got pneumonia 4 weeks ago. He went from doing 6000 steps daily to nothing for 3 weeks. Now he is struggling to do 4500.
You see, he is swimming against a strong current. He is not only having to start again, but he is starting a little further behind where he was. And the more he tries to get back to his 6000, the harder he has to push himself, and the more chance he has of getting sick again.
This doesn’t mean we are giving up. He is doing other things to try and improve his leg muscle tone even when he can’t get out and walk far.
I read a post by a teenager with 3 Chronic illnesses today who was talking about the fact he may not be able to do his chosen sport of boxing any more. He likened it to Muhammad Ali who, when knocked down in a fight, and everyone thought it was over for him, Ali got back up, took one punch at his opponent, and knocked the guy out. He had decided that being down for the count was not for him. Nor was it for the brave teenager.
And that is what most people with Chronic Illness do every day. Something sucker punches them, they lay there for a minute, take stock, then get back up fighting. They may not have a lot left to fight with, but sometimes it only takes one punch to win the fight.
The battle still goes on, one fight at a time.
As Derek and I dance on this dance floor of life, we dodge some things, we get blocked by others, we get pushed backwards by yet more. But eventually we WILL make it all the way across the dance floor.
We won’t dance around the floor because even moving forward you end up right back where you started from and where’s the challenge in that. It seems a wasted effort to me.