‘Winning at health’is definitely not a phrase that anyone is likely to ever use to describe me. I’ve come to accept my broken body and its many mysterious problems. It’s basically the same as my first car- a royal blue KA with black bumpers. You know the one? Driven by teenage girls in their thousands circa 2008, mine was let’s say, temperamental. It needed a lot of love and attention, a new clutch and after an unfortunate incident in some snow, a bit of duct tape. Chic it was not, but I loved it anyway.
I don’t love having health problems but you can’t swap your body (yet anyway, I give it 30 years) so it’s better to try and make peace where possible. I’m about six years in to my peace making attempt and although my problems aren’t easy to relate to or common, it’s not just rare diseases that make people feel this way. Anything from irritable bowel syndrome to anxiety- different but debilitating and unpredictable at times, can take years to tame or get on top of or even just accept. You do what you can to combat symptoms but it’s when all hell breaks loose inside and suddenly you’re in the middle of a massive flare up and you may as well set fire to your diary.
Last week I was on holiday, having the best time ever in NYC, but there was this underlying theme of pain and proding and poking from my body, like “hey remember me and how I need attention and can you please just stop it and stay in bed all day?” It was not ideal, but it was expected. I managed to mostly overcome the annoyance at the limping and stumbling I was reduced to for a day, and the pain, swelling, aching and crunching of some joints, but of course it would have been better if none of that happened. It did also mean cancelling plans one evening to lay with my feet in the air for an hour while trying to woo my hips into not dislocating.
Health problems do not care about our plans. They don’t care that we might be on holiday, about to graduate, need to go to work, have responsibilities or people who rely on us being able. They just don’t care. They flare up and they take hold and they can throw a big fat rain shower over your good mood and good times.
I haven’t found some magic way of stopping these issues bringing me down. I haven’t learnt how to mentally block the bad mood and the anxiety that confusing and new symptoms can stir up. I can’t even pretend that mind over matter works, because let’s face it, it doesn’t for everything. Positivity isn’t a pill that’ll make your body chill out and stop trolling you. Although slowly but surely perspective does shine through, I think. Picking out one tiny sparkle of good, or just something to be grateful for, even if it is the comfortable bed you’re stuck in, can make a little difference.
If you know of any other way that helps, I’m keen to know about it.