When Feeling Sick Becomes The New Norm

For the last few years it’s been one health challenge after another, from chronic sinus problems and a bevy of flu’s, to finding a large (benign and harmless) arachnoid cyst in my brain at the left frontal lobe. Feeling as if I’m juggling one symptom or another and drenching myself in the latest ‘miracle cures’, I have grown weary from the effort required to feel well, and instead have surrendered to the dictates of the symptom(s) de jour.

My new norm has become feeling ill. Upon wakening I do roll call. Aches? Here. Fatigue? Here. Headache? Here. And on through the list of familiar symptoms I go. They’re like little decayed yard gnomes that are unsightly, just taking up space ruining the landscape. I have given these ill feelings a place in my world and check in with them several times a day just to see how they’re holding up. Taking a constant inventory of symptoms and adjusting my diet, activities, vitamins, herbal remedies and doctor appointments (all helpful and necessary) have become a full time job. And when I go to a job, they accompany me, harassing and barking at me, reminding me of how crappy I feel. And I begin to doubt myself. About everything.

Example. This October I came down with a nasty flu for 10 days that went into an upper respiratory infection, which morphed into pleurisy (during the festivities of my daughter’s wedding), sparking off a lively round of shingles, on to another cold and sinus infection, and topping this all off with a deviated septum turbonate reduction surgery. Three months.

How many times I had shown up on a job with firm resolve I would not discuss my health problems. This would last a firm ten minutes and upon being asked, “How are you today?”, off I go. I pity the poor listener.

Sometimes all it takes is awareness to catapult us toward change. This is the gift I’ve been given. I have made feeling ill larger than my joy for life. I recently turned 60 and a friend talked of his mother at the age of 70 and how she had become “full of life”. Those words stung and challenged me as I realized I had been choosing quite the opposite.

I have made the decision that no matter how I feel, when my feet hit the floor in the morning, even after a bad night of sleep, to choose to be full of life. It’s there for the taking. A free gift, and isn’t it amazing that these days as I have quieted the noise of my physical maladies and turned up the volume at the awe and wonder of my surroundings, I am feeling well. I am feeling full of life. And I am reminded daily, it’s not as much about the health of my body. It’s about the wellness of my soul.

Jan Brehm



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