I’ve been under the weather for a little while, and it’s left me with time to reflect on what being sick really means. This is what I came up with.
Being sick means discomfort, the aches and pains that let you know something’s wrong. It means disruption of the routine that you cherish so dearly. It means disability that, though temporary and relatively mild, keeps you from doing what you want to do, maybe even what you need to do.
Being sick means frustration with the circumstances and how slowly they seem to change. It means deprivation of some of your favorite things: running outside, dancing to music, creating beautiful things. Worse, it means separation from those you care about the most.
Being sick means suffering, sometimes so intense that you can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. It means pleading for the pain to end, for the fever to break, for the symptoms to go away. It means waiting, spending countless hours lying awake wondering how much longer you can possibly take this before you finally break once and for all.
Being sick means confusion: “Why is this happening to me?” “Am I feeling better or just numb to the pain?” “When is it safe to start acting normal again?” It means impatience, a desire to get back to life the second you start to feel even the slightest bit better. It means self-sabotage, pushing yourself too hard too quickly and inevitably making yourself feel worse than before.
Being sick means sorrow when the illness breaks your will and you begin to mourn the life you once had. It means appreciation for how good you felt when you were healthy, even though you never realized it at the time. It means sympathy for those who live with illness every day and don’t get the privilege of looking forward to health as you do.
Eventually, being sick means relief when the fever breaks, the pain subsides, and you finally begin to feel alive again. It means return to life as it was, maybe at a slightly faster pace to catch up on all that you missed. And it means remembering, committing to never again take your health for granted.
Though, to be honest, you probably will; that is, until you once again feel a tickle in your throat or a knot in your stomach. And then you’ll restart the process and experience again what it means being sick.