Burnout, Bumps, and Bruises: Learning to Accept My Chronic Illnesses
I’m just going to come right out and say it: I don’t want to write about being chronically ill this week. Specifically, I don’t want to be chronically ill this week.
I know this isn’t revolutionary; what person grappling with cystic fibrosis and related diabetes, and all the symptoms, side effects, and societal barriers that come with unresolvable diagnoses hasn’t had days when they just want to hit pause?
So instead of talking about my illness directly, I want to talk about a perpetual bump I’ve developed on my finger. For starters, I’m not entirely sure what happened or where it came from.
My column is still pretty new, and we don’t yet know each other too well in the grand scheme of things. An important piece of background information about me is that I am very, as my mom phrases it, “accident-prone.”
A quick anecdote to prove it: When I was about 8 years old, I took my dog out with my lifelong best friend who was visiting at the time. Tasha, an overly excitable girl, was a keeshond that weighed about 40 pounds. We used a retractable leash.
Long story short, things got out of control, and before we could react, I was hog-tied by my dog, who had circled me five or six times before taking off straight at something she saw in the yard. Probably a squirrel. I had rope burns on the backs of my knees that took weeks to heal.
Being clumsy, or just physically unlucky, has always been a part of who I am.
Now, back to this finger injury I’ve recently managed to get. It’s on the back of my index finger on my dominant hand, between my fingernail and what is scientifically called the proximal-interphalangeal joint.
All of this is to say that I have managed to scrape my finger where the injury naturally knocks and grazes against almost everything all of the time, which is making the healing process not just slow but eternal.
I want to clarify here that it’s not infected, although it looks like it should be for a wound that’s stuck in a perpetual phase of healing, because it continues to be reinjured on a small scale several times a day.
I’m trying to consciously remind myself to be careful, but here’s the other thing about it: It only hurts when I bump into something. (Don’t worry, Mom, I’m putting Neosporin on it.) Then, when I bump into it, I’m suddenly reminded that it’s there. Like putting on hand sanitizer to be reminded that, oh yeah, paper cut!
Am I telling you all of this just to complain about this now red and perpetually just-swollen-enough-to-rub-against-everything bump that is annoying enough to be on the edge of infuriating? Admittedly, yes, a little bit.
But there’s more to it than just the surface-level annoyance of a scrape on my body that’s doing its best to heal despite pure dumb-placement bad luck. Because I’m diabetic, a voice in the back of my brain reminds me that slow healing is a side effect of diabetes and representative of permanent long-term damage.
The truth is this: Even when it’s not about being chronically ill, I can’t get away from the fact that my body is always sick. Instead of talking about it, I’ve found it sometimes helps to talk around it and accept the parts of the truth I can’t change by just allowing them to exist in the background.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like Sisyphus pushing a boulder up the hill with muscles weakened by quinolones. I’m tired and waiting for a break that never comes, but I can still do what I can to make life in this body easier for myself.
I’ve gone out and bought a new pack of Band-Aids to put on my finger to give it some padding. I can’t help that it’s going to brush against my pants when I pull them up, or that it catches on the edge of a folder when I reach into my backpack for my keys.
But just like it’s my responsibility to still take my medications each morning and evening, it’s equally my responsibility to protect this small part of me that can use my help. We only get one body. So we may as well make the best of it, even on days when we just don’t want to.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.