There are things I would never have known otherwise.
There are things that will always be different now.
There are things I find hard to explain:
All the things I have learned from my sickness.
Like how it tastes to eat soup for every meal every day for eight months straight.
Like the time it takes to read every ingredient on everything ever (that day I spent hours in the hygiene aisle, just wanting to wash my hair).
The way I learned to say “I’m sorry, I can’t” so well that it started to ache in my mouth.
The feeling that washed over me when I left the doctor appointment, clutching close the new list of things that were wrong.
How I became so tired of evaluating each possible treatment, of trying to decide what to do next.
The sinking dread of knowing: I’m just rotting away. The fervent praying- the wild hoping- can I stop it? Is it possible to heal?
The deep weakness that took over my body- as if I am taking each step with weights locked around my ankles (the day in the market I couldn’t lift that jar of coconut oil I wanted and had to ask for help).
There are things I will never take for granted again, like how much energy it actually takes to get up from my bed and walk to the kitchen, or the bathroom, or to press the gas pedal down in my car.
What it feels like to lie face down on my bed, only to feel my heart start pounding my whole body, wondering if it will ever stop?
Like how it is to have my skin burn and ache every time you tried to touch me tenderly.
All the dreams I’ve had of possible futures: all the longings I’ve had for the past (remember when I was cute and light and carefree in my body?).
When I try to explain myself- my every quirk- my every issue. How much is too much? Every question somehow leads back to my illness.
The terror I felt when I looked at the one page single column list of the last foods I could still tolerate.
And my face, my soft skin covered in blisters- in hives- in a swollen red flush. The itching pain. Afraid of your touch.
Resting. Eating. Sleeping. Appointments. Supplements. Nothing else. A never ending cycle.
The deep feeling of exhaustion as it seeps into each corner of me. Like my body is breaking and here I am, stuck inside.
The smell of meat broth boiling. Being told I smell like celery.
The hours spent reading health blogs. Autoimmune instagram inspiration. Nutrition research. Medical journals. Crying in frustration- trying to understand it all. Will this be the thing that saves my life?
Counting calories. Tracking nutrients. Taking foods out. Adding them back in. Taking them out again. Falling asleep at 8:30.
There are so many things I have learned. There are so many things I will never forget.
Like what is the true meaning of patience. Of diligence. Of despair. Of surrender.
Like how to say no. To everything.
Like how to strategize my precious energy: what will I need for the next three hours so I won’t have to get up again?
How it feels to know my body is flooded with invaders. Overrun with them. And in response it’s shutting down.
What it’s like to wake up with my legs hot and weak. Like they are filled with fire and jelly.
Time passes. Months. A whole year of sickness. And another. How many years will I lose?
What it’s like to be afraid of everything: sunshine. Cold. Fragrance. Pollution. Leftovers.
There is a deep ache. There is an unspeakable grief. Why me? Why my life? Trying to make sense of it. Trying to find some meaning in it.
The long game. The waiting. The hoping. The affirmations, repeated endlessly to outweigh my fears: I will heal. I will heal. I will heal.
The things I have lost. People. Places. Pastimes. Familiarity. Wondering if anyone will want me like this?
The things I regain- the indescribable joy at the smallest victories. My body moving strongly again. Climbing a hill. Running a block. Doing one thing, and then another. How much I missed the piney smell of the mountains.
Will I ever see the stars from deep wilderness again?
Time passes. Changes unfold. My life comes back to me- little by little. Sliver by sliver.
But no matter how much I heal, there I things I will never take for granted again.
There are things I will never forget.