What Recovery Days Mean in Life With Chronic Illness

I’m a 39-year-old mother to three, and today it will take everything to get me out of bed. Today, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Nearly five years ago, I was diagnosed with Mal de Debarquement Syndrome, a chronic illness that leaves me feeling as if I’m in constant motion. Today, the ocean waves are crashing, my head feels so full it could explode, the chronic headache that sits at the bottom of my skull is throbbing, my vision is blurred, my right ear is full and the pressure is intense, the pain in my lower back is radiating down my hip and the fatigue leaves me feeling as if I haven’t slept in months.

On these days, tears fill my eyes as I try to justify that it’s just one day and tomorrow will be different. On these days, I become fearful that my life will always be like this. On these days, I question how people who have had this illness for 20 plus years continue. On these days, I have difficulty finding hope.

I go through these cycles periodically where the motion is more intense, the pain intensifies and the symptoms become intolerable. I find myself on multiple heating pads along my back and hips and ice packs on my neck and forehead unable to lift myself from the comfort of my bed and fuzzy blanket. I can often predict these difficult days based on weather or extra stress in my life, but knowing one is coming does not make the day easier.

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I am able to “push through” most days and find the strength and energy to roll my butt out of bed and try to accomplish something. I know my children need me. I know my husband needs me. I know my friends need me. I know my work, as an adjunct instructor needs me. But even I can’t “push through” all days.

I wonder if pushing through actually makes my recovery days more difficult. If I had taken that short break from lesson planning or entertaining the kids to rest and recover, would these days be fewer and further between?

While these recovery days take an emotional and physical toll on my body and me, I know they are necessary so I can continue to live my life as best I am able. But today, I am just sick and tired of being sick and tired. And that is going to have to be OK, for today.

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