Why I won’t accept my illness, but I’ll accept the battle

I was once asked what I’ve learned from living with an incurable disease. I didn’t really have a determinate answer, but I did say having chronic illness has given me a deeper compassion, one I can’t quite explain. Being a young woman in her mid-20s, most people think I’m in perfect health. However, on the outside, I look nothing like what my body has really felt like for the past three years.  

Swelling, joint pain, raw stiffness, throbbing muscles, needle-burning pain and fatigue were just some of the things my body woke to one September morning in Colorado. My body was not my own; everything from my knees, shoulders, hips and hands were all in pain. I limped to my bathroom to brush my teeth, but my hand couldn’t hold the toothbrush.

I did the best I could that morning despite the overwhelming confusion and drove to work with just the palms of my hands to steer the wheel. After eight months of grueling doctor visits and pain that went unclarified, I was finally diagnosed with systemic lupus after my 23rd birthday. I’ve done everything from changing my diet, exercising, taking medicine — but nothing permanently takes away the flares of pain.

The word “accept” by definition means: 

A) To receive willingly.

B) To endure without protest or reaction.

I don’t accept lupus because that would mean enduring this disease without objection, which means no battle. No battle means I’m not fighting.

But I fight for normalcy despite pain. I fight for staying in a job I love despite the physical exertion it requires working with children on the autism spectrum. I fight telling my body every day that she doesn’t have to accept this disease, because isn’t that what we’re supposed to do when any kind of pain tries to become the boss in our own lives?

In the past three years, I’ve had my fair share taking extra pain pills in the mornings, canceling day plans and praying through sleepless nights. I know the forged feeling of putting a smile on your face in front of people when all you want to do is lie in fetal position in your warm sheets at home with heat pads. I know the feeling of adding layers of clothes to your body during the fall and winter because your body starts to flare — but it’s still your favorite time of year.

Maybe pain happens to people for greater purposes than we think. What if pain doesn’t have anything to do with what we put in our bodies, and it has more to do with something that can’t be seen but felt. Perhaps pain gives us a gift of something greater; a phone call to a family member we haven’t spoken to in a year or the courage to start something we’ve always wanted to. Maybe pain doesn’t leave because it’s supposed to keep teaching us something otherwise lost — something deeper, something that helps others and not ourselves. Pain is a bittersweet blessing in disguise in my life, and it constantly reminds me of others who are facing challenges.

I don’t know when this illness will go away or if a cure will ever be found. I don’t know how my pain will look like tomorrow or in the next week or month, but I do know how I can fight it.

I fight it by doing what I love, even if that’s altered in some way. I’ll keep teaching children and spinning them around in my arms on the days my hands and elbows haven’t given up. I’ll endure jogs on cold mornings when my knees aren’t swollen or my chest doesn’t ache. I’ll drive to a friend’s home to have coffee on the nights I’m not physically drained. And I’ll keep cutting my hair because Lord knows I can’t spend an hour every night brushing a horse’s mane. I’ll still lie on the autumn and winter ground, feeling the crunch of leaves beneath my feet or snow soak in my hair. I’ll keep giving and loving.

I’ll keep doing all these things because if I’m breathing, I’m counting my blessings. I hope you do too, dear friend.

**original article published on The Mighty here**

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49 thoughts on “Why I won’t accept my illness, but I’ll accept the battle

  1. LeahDortch

    Hi Savannah, I have enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you for liking my recent post. I am so sorry you are struggling with such a aggressive illness. I have not been diagnosed with anything but my body feels like it’s attacking itself sometimes. I have thyroid problems and I constantly rely on the Lord to help me through fatigue and harder days. Something that the Lord has opened my eyes to are young living essential oils. Have you ever thought about trying natural remedies for your pain and sleep? Just a thought that it may help to where you won’t have to feel as dependant on the prescription medications.

    Like

  2. Tonya Masoner

    Beautiful post. I can so relate. I was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkins lymphoma in April. Recently going through chemo and soon radiation. I pray your pain is taken away and even better days.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fibronacci

    This was a beautiful read, Savannah! Thank you for writing it. I loved how you walked us through your definition of acceptance, and how you feel about it. I want to write much here, but instead will direct you to two of my posts (below) where I have reflected on similar topics, instead of rewriting it here, haha. I have defined “acceptance” differently, but the sentiments I think are true to your take on the subject. :)
    https://fibronacciblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/what-is-acceptance/
    https://fibronacciblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/how-acceptance-can-lead-to-happiness/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Savannah Hardcastle

      Hi friend! God has assuredly been doing many amidst my health. I’ve recently been eating better and taking vitamins, etc., and it’s done a world of difference for my health. Still in hopes of full healing, but nevertheless, God works wonders through our weakness.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Preston Rentz

    Savannah, I always like your ability to reflect, even in pain, and then somehow let the light of hope shine through. Question; if I sent you a hard copy (or Kindle) of my latest book; The Good Fear-Discovering Your Identity in God, would you read it and review it for me?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Savannah Hardcastle

      THANK YOU SO MUCH for the read and for tying it into your wonderful blog post, dear friend. I am so happy you feel this way about your illness now…and I am sorry still that you deal with this pain, but it is not meaningless.
      -Sav

      Like

  5. diaryofachronicpainwarrior

    You are so courageous and strong. I admire you and look up to you. I find myself most days in bed, unable to move, awaiting surgery to at least make me mobile again. I like how you said you chose not to accept your illness, but to accept the battle.

    You are beautiful inside and out, and your strength makes you a warrior, don’t ever forget it!
    <3

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Raul

    I am currently learning the science of healing, and striving to be medical missionary and I have gotten some materials from this institute of health lifetreewellness.com. Speak to this lady name Swany (208) 245-3297 I know there is always a way into better health and healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Esther

    OMD!!! Savannah this is beautiful! For me going through several losses at the time of year your words are filled with hope and peace. You are amazing!! Thank you for this… I will be praying for you
    Lots of love

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Rachel Allene

    This so beautifully encompasses everything I feel about my chronic illness, but these words especially ring true: “Maybe pain doesn’t leave because it’s supposed to keep teaching us something otherwise lost — something deeper, something that helps others and not ourselves.”

    I’ve had countless many question why my pain lingers, but I know that if it is here, there is still a lesson in it for me to learn. In spite of everything, I am still so thankful that God allowed this cross to be on my shoulders. I hope I use it to bring Him glory.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. AWETHENTIQ

    After about thirty years, I can say that the best soul surgeon is Dr Pain. Yuppie flu, a failed laminectomy, two decades of virtual immobility accompanied by intense pain. I can relate but I can also testify that pain had changed me in many ways, mostly for the better. Except that people blocking the way for so many disabled people feel the fire breathing in their necks when I am about. I am totally intolerant of political and business leaders who disregard people with restricted mobility. I easily deman their resignation and I do not let off. Just yesterday, I started an initiative for a wheelchair march to Parliament scheduled for early 2017. I contacted a top union leader to help mobilise disabled protesters. I want inaccessible buildings condemned. And more. Yes, compassion increased because of pain.

    Like

  10. Dr. Rob Oberto

    Savannah, thank you for liking my blog, The Courageous Faith of Joseph and Mary, because it led me to your blog. I too have a painful chronic illness for which there is no cure, so I can directly relate to your words. I find it is a blessing because it constantly drives me to the heart of God. Blessings!

    Like

  11. ribbonrx

    This is SO true, Savannah! I never really thought about the true definition of “accept”, but you’re right, I don’t want to accept my diseases if it means being defeated by them. I will continue to fight! And that part you wrote about the purpose of pain…spot on. I started my blog because of pain and to raise awareness about it and now it’s a pretty successful little blog. Thank you for these reminders! (And I love autumn and winter, too!)

    Like

    • Savannah Hardcastle

      Continue to write, dear friend and raise awareness. The power of writing is a beautiful thing, and though we may never meet the people of which we feel we’ve connected to through writing, there is still a connection of not being alone– and that is beautiful.
      Merry Christmas!!
      -Sav

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Wendell A. Brown

    One cannot help but love you, Savannah! I feel what you feel each day and more but I also feel the radiance of your heart, spirit and the endless love which you share. God has said he would not give us more than what we can bear. On the outside many, think I look young, vibrant and happy! On the inside there is a battle which goes one each day. But though my body may pain, my spirit is always nourished by his love, and his spirit. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. You my sister, your life, your words always inspire me, its almost like we are siamese twins connected by the Lords love. We are very strong my sister and even though the body may fade away the spirit will always shine radiantly within his eternal blessings! Here is a poem I shared recently…know you will understand;

    “MADE WELL”

    I visited my neurologist the other day
    Her prognosis might make another to faint
    But when she broke the news to my ears
    A lasting smile on my face God did paint

    For she saw a certain peaceful calm about me
    Which she realized could only come from within
    For He who alone sits on my heart’s throne
    Had already made the healing that day begin

    I sought out the Lord a few weeks before
    As the first noticeable symptoms did arise
    And His spirit immediately assured me
    That He would never ever leave my side

    My Lord, he reminded me on that glorious day
    He would never give me more than I could bear
    And just like when dear Daniel began to pray
    His answer that day was already made clear

    And my heart was very confident in his promise
    That I would never have to deal with this alone
    For within the place where others could not see
    My Lord’s spirit has always made it his home

    So even though my flesh fades away each day
    And in the future, destined to turn to dust
    The Lord my God removed away all of my fears
    For in His promised word alone I placed my trust

    That whatever maladies may soon confront me
    His healing powers will sustain me very well
    For in, my lords promise I am an overcomer
    While in his tender embrace I am made well.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I share this poem tonight written November 2012.
    When I was diagnosed with MS, because over
    the last couple of weeks, I have had word
    of some of my blogging family who have
    been diagnosed with certain illnesses. Take
    it to God in prayer believing you will
    overcome the human prognosis. God Bless!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Psalm 107: 19-21
    Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and
    he saved them from their distress. He sent out his
    word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.
    Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing
    love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
    Published November 30, 2016

    Liked by 1 person

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