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Thursday February 21st 2019


Chronic Snarkopolist: Free Falling and Doing it all Sick

Post Published: 15 June 2011
Category: chronic autoimmune conditions column, Chronic Snarkopolist, Column
This post currently has 9 responses. Leave a comment

Hello my loves!

Life has a funny way challenging us, stripping us to the bare bones, and then asking us for the marrow. Almost everyone can remember the starkness of the room when the day the got their cancer diagnosis.  Many people can describe the frustrating, circuitous routes to finding and treating their autoimmune diseases.  Along the way they bore witness to their routines, marriages, finances, their LIVES changing.

Describing the challenges of going through the loss of her life and being forced to rebuild it, one woman said to me, “I did an open free fall, like jumping from a plane. It went on for a year. And the whole time I did it while protecting my six year old son.” She healed from it and rebuilt a life for herself. Her son is in college and she has a practice now. This is the best case scenario to losing everything and rebuilding.

Some people are so altered they never fully recover from it.  I once spoke to a practitioner during my procedure.  She was very quiet and very calm.  She clearly wasn’t used to having patients see her as a “real person.” She told me of going through cancer treatment. And during that time, her own colleagues and family didn’t know what to say.  Some thought she was seeking attention. Some treated her callously. Others stopped talking to her.

She lost many she felt were friends. She was disappointed.  In reaction she pulled away from people.  Even years later she described herself as less trusting, more of a homebody, and only did things with her husband and the very few people who got her through her illness.  She wasn’t interested in making more friends. And mostly, she told me she felt more betrayed by people than illness. “I keep to myself. I do my work. I don’t go out. When I retire I will stay home.”

Hearing her story hurt my heart. I was so angry on her behalf. We have all been wounded. I hugged her as I left and told her I was so sorry for what she had been through.  She seemed genuinely surprised.  I know she felt a little nervous for telling me so much.  It wasn’t, “professional” to share so much. I LOVE stories and sharing. And as I hugged her, I hoped both of us were a little more healed.  It was the only thing I could give her as I left, a little human compassion on my way out the door.

No matter how hard we try, someone is going to tell us we aren’t good enough. This message will either come in a little envelope with blood results, a thyroid level, or because we simply cannot keep up with everyday life or the demands and expectations we set on ourselves.

We will have to make decisions, hard ones, about what matters more to us.  We will have to things go.  Dreams will shatter. We will constantly have to bite back the urge to remind people, “I really used to be quite something.”

Self-pity and self-anger will wind around inside.  Repeatedly we will face the reality that life, consists of not only celebration, but loss. Loss of identity, independence, ego, financial solvency, friendships.  All life is loss. Just as all life is growth.  And when we are in the loss stage it doesn’t feel good.

Even when we are in the steady healing phase, there is loss. And there are setbacks. And there is self-doubt.  And our slower life, learned by lessons of necessity are often, “tsk tsked” by well meaning friends.  Every day I worry that I’m simply not good enough. And every day I realize that I share this planet with people feeling the same exact thing.  And I just keep going. Sometimes after wallowing a bit or sharing. How else can we do it?

What do you think my loves? Is there any other way? What are your experiences of loss? What are your experiences of rebuilding? How do you tread water? How do you “remember” who you are afterwards? Or do you? After massive life changes and loss do you just start back and go from there? How do you deal with Rage? Anger? Do you go home and live with just you and the dog? Please tell me! I must know!

I will see you same time next week! Kiss kiss!


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9 Responses to “Chronic Snarkopolist: Free Falling and Doing it all Sick”

  1. Hypogirl says:

    i can so relate to this post. I have alienated people who I thought would never understand. This is something that I will continue to struggle with it. I haven’t figured it all out yet.

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Hey gorgeous!! Thank you so so much for writing in and sharing! It is always such a balance isn’t it – trying not to alienate the people we love… trying to keep our loved ones here.

      So much of our live is just trying to figure it all out!

  2. Melissa says:

    Reading this piece brought tears to my eyes. I freely admit that I’m an overachiever and lately feel that I’m not good enough at all. I’ve had so many setbacks over the years dealing with Hashimoto’s. The latest has left me not being able to breathe very well (inhaler at my side at all times) and tons of medical bills piling up for the last few months. I’ve had people think I’m making this up because every other part of me is healthy. I’ve been accused of having panic attacks and having something mentally wrong with me. It’s made me very angry because it’s not the case at all. I’ve had to wait several months just to get an appointment and just now had my Synthroid dosage adjusted again. Hopefully this will remedy the shortness of breath which not even the doctor’s can pinpoint. I have quite the assortment of dosages in my medicine cabinet. Ever since my Endo suggested that perhaps my thyroid be removed I’ve been wanting to go through with it. Now he refuses. I work really hard every day trying to keep up with chores and on running my business. I’m trying to start a new one in fact to help make a dent in those bills. I feel that I survive on sheer will (and coffee) most of the time. My cat keeps me going and my fiance, while he is extremely understanding, sometimes doesn’t understand completely how I feel. I’m torn between the importance for me to keep going and achieve my goals while possibly doing more harm than good by being so stressed and just taking it easy, relaxing and enjoying life. I’m so glad to have found this blog because many times it’s the only voice of reason I come across dealing with this crazy disease.

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Hi Melissa – wow. What a BEAUTIFUL passionate post. Thank you so so much for sharing some of your story here. I’m so moved by your words… and really- it is so so hard when some of our health things keep on biting at our ankles. I’m sorry that you are still having repercussions of long term health issues that – once we KNOW what they are- we just WANT them to be fixed. ugh.

      You are such a beautiful and lovely writer. And your words are so moving. Please keep writing in. We all need to take care of each other while we’re dealing with it!

  3. Derek says:

    Thank you for writing this. Your statement “Almost everyone can remember the starkness of the room when the day the got their cancer diagnosis” particularly resonated with me as I recalled the day my wife was diagnosed with a meningioma…the same day we found out she was pregnant with our first. I remember what the floor looked like, the lights in the ceiling, and the white noise that envelped me after hearing the diagnosis. Seven years later and I can still remember it clear as if it was this morning…

    (I wrote an article about that experience here: cmeconfessions.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/dear-doctor-thank-you/)

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Hi Derek,
      Thank you so so much for sharing your words and your story. Amazing and powerful isn’t it – how much our lives can shift and change with one small event. You are a lovely writer!! Please please keep sharing and writing!!

      Thanks so much!

  4. Heather says:

    The diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis was the beginning of a long journey characterized by answers that lead to more and more questions. My personal appearance has changed for the worse in spite of my best attempts to be/appear healthy, and my personality has changed from being the life of the party, to a homebody/hermit/couch potato/cat lady who copes with low energy by limiting my activities, and interacting with people more by internet and phone than by social outings. I do my best to take part in activities I used to enjoy regularly, knowing full well that I will be completely wiped out the next day, and that if I do not consume caffeinated beverages during my outing, I will not do very well then either! I will soon be attending a family function visiting an amusement park for an entire day. I would not have been able to contemplate this just a few short months ago, but thanks to a higher dose of thyroid meds, caffeine, and sheer will, I am going to push myself very hard to enjoy the water park, rides, walks, and the hot sun. I am doing the best I can to accept my limitations and work around them as much as possible, but only people with thyroid disease truly understand what I am going through. I have found a measure of comfort in the companionship of my cats on those many nights in. My husband’s reaction to my diagnosis was complete insensitivity, followed by a half-hearted attempt at understanding. I now view my marriage more as a stressor than a support. I have accepted the possibility that I may have to divorce him in order to have a peaceful life and to improve my health. Still, it is not the end of the world. I have already faced mounting medical bills and financial ruin. Luckily, I have a few loyal friends and family members that are there for me always, and I have a deep appreciation for the things in life that truly matter.

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Dear Heather – thank you so much for sharing some of your story here. I’m so sorry that it has been a difficult and painful one. It is such a sad thing to have more loss on top of illness. Please keep writing in for support and sharing here – we are all in this together!!

      GIANT HUGS!!

  5. Heather says:

    Thanks, Melissa! I’m sending giant hugs back to you..and just wanted to update everyone and let them know that I thoroughly enjoyed my day out with my granddaughters and family. We played at the water park and rode the rollercoasters, and I also found a spot by the water with plenty of shade when I wanted to relax a bit. I noticed a bit of joint pain and muscle aches upon awakening, but it was well worth it, to get out and feel somewhat like my former self again. Every day I count my blessings, and try not to fall into the pit of self-pity by dwelling on my losses. I have learned that accepting limitations and setbacks is part of the healing process, and that any energy I have has to be put into activities that support physical and emotional well-being. I am hoping I can work things out with my husband through counseling, but am already planning for my future life on my own in case things cannot be worked out. I just want to encourage everyone out there to make the most out of the times when they get a little bit of energy back, and hopefully that will lead to better times!

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