Life is made up of ebbs and flows. Although at times it can feel more like a clogged up shitty toilet or a tsunami. We can spend an insane amount of time comparing our lives to others. We look at those who appear to have it all together and wonder if they know what it’s like to struggle. We might be envious of their seemingly sweet trouble free life. It can feel like we are banished to a dark abyss while everyone else happily goes about their lives. We may question if we did something wrong to warrant this “punishment.” It’s easy to ask yourself “Why me?”
After my first anaphylactic reaction in July 2018, I believed I was going back to work. But as the weeks turned into months, it became clear that I was not going to be able to return to work. No work place could guarantee an environment free of mercaptobenzothiazole. Because that shit is EVERYWHERE. I can’t be in contact with common things like rubber bands, tape, or adhesive labels because they contain this chemical that I am highly allergic to. In November 2018 I had another anaphylactic reaction after using a pen that used to have a rubber band around it. Not currently on it. USED TO BE ON IT. That’s how sensitive my body is to this chemical. Fucking crazy! I continued to be hospitalized every few months for anaphylactic reactions, severe asthma, and/or hereditary angioedema flares. In 2019 I spent 22 days total in the hospital over 6 admissions. In 2020 I spent 30 days total in the hospital over 6 admissions. So far in 2021 I have spent 10 days in the hospital over 2 admissions. Many of these days were spent on the ventilator in the ICU. It’s a very weird and unsettling feeling to wake up after being sedated on a ventilator not knowing what day it is or how much time has passed.
It was a tough pill to swallow realizing I wouldn’t be able to return to work. I didn’t expect to become disabled at age 37. I had always been this determined, independent, and sassy lady who could multitask like nobody’s business. Now my world was flipped upside down and I struggled at first with how to fill my time and feel productive. To this day I still battle with feeling like I am not as productive as I used to be or even would like to be. I equated productivity with physical activity. But I have learned that productivity can be mental and not solely physical. While most of my time each day revolves around my medical care, I find ways to feel productive by learning French and Russian, growing and maintaining our orchids and house plants, and writing my blog.
My life is truly like a roller coaster ride. One moment things are going well, my health improves a bit, and there’s a glimmer of hope that there will be some normalcy as I coast along the track. The next moment, all hell breaks loose and I’m zooming down the roller coaster track screaming my guts out. I don’t have a clue what will be thrown my way, but I know I will accept life as it comes. I don’t try to understand everything, because sometimes things are not meant to be understood, just accepted.
It’s easy to become so absorbed in our own anguish that we fail to recognize others are also going through hardships. Focusing on our struggles is like a vortex that isolates us and makes us feel awful. We don’t need to offer advice or solutions to those who are struggling. But we can flash them a toothy grin 😁 or simply be there to spread some extra love. I try to be more cognizant of other people’s experiences of trauma and grief. It’s a good reminder that while things in life might have been different, it doesn’t necessarily mean they would have been better. We all experience suffering and heartbreak. No one in the world is immune from getting hit with some kind of pain, despite how happy and chipper they may appear on the outside.
There is another side to everyone’s life that you may never actually see. So if you catch yourself scrolling through social media and wondering why your life isn’t going as smoothly as someone else’s, remember that there are people looking at your life wishing they had something about yours.