Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with one handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. – Henry Ward Beecher
Living with a chronic physical, emotional and/or mental health issue is like perpetually riding a roller coaster for the first time. When we have a flare up of any sort we feel the rapid reversal of direction and that can be scary because of the unknown ahead in our highly dynamic individual health environment.
When the reversal hits, its like the feeling you get in an auto accident. Everything appears in ultra-slow motion as you see the oncoming vehicle. You’re powerless to move. All you can do is get that sick feeling in your stomach when you know the pain is about to strike, and there is nothing you can do about it. Then, the excruciating painful reality hits you hard…full force…WHAM!
On the roller coaster, once we realize the ups are always followed by the downs and visa versa, and we can see the snaking of the track ahead of us, then we can begin to anticipate the next inevitable reversal and brace ourselves for it.
We know we won’t be able to avoid it, but with each reversal we become more accustomed to the sudden changes, pulls, and drops.
When my ostomy (Percy Stoma), was created, it was during emergency lifesaving surgery. When I awakened from the 8 hour surgery I found that I was now an ostomate. I had no idea what an ostomy was. I had no clue about what was required to take care of myself, nor how to care for my ostomy.
At that pivotal point in my life I had been permanently physiologically altered, and so, was inevitably emotionally and mentally altered. I didn’t know what to think, how to behave, nor how I was going to go forward in life. I didn’t even know what the new me was, let alone how to be the new me.
Everyone has their individualized life issue(s), in my case I am an ostomate. It has taken years of research through;
- connecting with fellow ostomates
- joining a local ostomy support group
- a member of ostomy social media groups
- following ostomy websites, newsletters, blogs
- and, meeting with Enterostomal Therapists (ET Nurses).
Through my research and connections, after 4 years I now for the most part feel the confidence in knowing I am no longer blindfolded as I live my ostomy roller coaster ride.
Through knowledge and better understanding of our chronic life/health issue(s), we are able to rip away the blindfold, as we live with the perpetual knowing that as the days, weeks and months go by the next gut-wrenching reversal of direction will occur. That’s the emotional character of the experienced person with chronic life/health issues.
Whatever life/health issue you live, whatever community of humanity you choose, and through whatever medium that works for you, know that; through connecting with like minded people who can relate and live the same issues as you do, (and there are many-you are not alone), you will feel the support. As you give and receive from each other you learn so very much. You will know how to prepare for the worst, and adapt as best you can to the ups and downs.
The key is: adaptation.
We can adapt better when we know what is coming, we learn to know when it might happen, what could possibly bring it on, and we have a plan to adjust to our new normal, our new world.
As every tomorrow unfolds as it will and come what may, we are presented with two handles to choose from, this is the choice for today and for our tomorrow.
Jo-Ann L. Tremblay
“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”