Being strong is something you do every day.

I guess you really do not know how strong of a person you really are until you do something really brave is the perfect quote that I needed to read today. Not knowing just how strong you are is something that most people with chronic pain and illness think they are. Until we do something that seems worthy of being considered brave, we rate ourselves as weak. I am not sure exactly why we look at ourselves that way, but almost most of all the people who I know that deal with daily health issues, on a chronic basis, never see themselves as strong, brave, or anything positive.

How often do you look at yourself in the mirror and pat yourself on the back?  How often do you fumble for words from embarrassment and disbelief when someone tells you what a strong person you are? Or how often do you twist and turn words when someone expresses words of encouragement and words of praise?  If you are anything like me, its weekly, almost daily.  Is this normal for those of us with chronic illnesses or pain?  Or is it that hard to believe that we are actually, let me say it, brave by just living our life on a daily basis?

What is exactly do we do that makes us superstars? In my eyes, there is nothing special that we do but that is just it, we do nothing special.  So how can we be brave and strong when we do nothing special?  Most normal human beings get out of bed every day, putting one foot forward.  Let me tell you what it is like for me to get out of bed each morning. After I am have woken from my slumber, I am usually on one of my sides.  The first thing that I need to do isn’t something physical but more emotional.  I have to take a scan of my body with my mind and see how every inch of my body feels.  This is very important as to that it will tell me if I can just roll to the correct side and slowly sit up. If I feel any sort of pain, I need to figure out how this is going to effect me from getting out of bed. If there is a small amount of back pain, leg pain, or both, I need to adjust my body enough to let me get to the edge of the bed. Then, using the side of the mattress, I push myself up enough to the point where I can straighten my arms and push myself up to a sitting position. It isn’t too bad of a way to have to sit up but it all needs to be done slowly and careful, not hurting anything else. But if the pain has a huge affect on my body, then getting out of bed is another story.

When pain is higher than a 6 on the pain scale, see here for a pain scale definition, getting out of bed takes a lot longer.  After assessing my body, the first thing I need to do is to figure out if I, plain and simple, need help.  Many a morning have I tried to get my fragile and painful body out of bed when I should had just taken the time to realize that I wouldn’t be able to move limbs, let alone move my whole body. The most important thing that I can do, is, to be honest with myself and know that asking for help is not bad or a burden for my husband.

Now remember, this is all for me to get out of bed, just to get out of bed.  Let me ask you, how long does it take you to wake and pull your body out of bed every day? I would say that most “normal” people, can get out of bed in less than 3 minutes.  I am usually looking at 5-15 minutes on a good day and 20 plus minutes on a bad day.

Saying all this, I am not implying that I am better or special because it takes me more time to get out of bed each day. I am saying that because I have to handle this on an everyday basis. I can not any longer “jump out of bed”.  I can not longer do something that I have always taken for granted and do it like I did less than 8 years ago.  I sometimes, have to take a few minutes to catch my breath just because I sat up in bed.  How many other people can say that the simple, daily chores are difficult to the point of exhaustion? How many people have to put their lives in the hands of doctors, nurses, and many pieces of medical equipment as often as those of us do when suffering from pain and illnesses?

There may be simple things in your life that you can’t do on a daily basis.  Does that make you different, or special?  It makes you who you are, that’s it.  We measure what people can do and how well they can do it as how that person is.  When in reality we shouldn’t be rating people by their limitations. But we should praise people how their willingness to try to accomplish anything any day.

Life is different for everyone.  It may take me awhile to get out of bed when it takes you seconds. But it may take me less time for something else when it takes you awhile.  Don’t judge others by their limitations and the way that they look.  Every person is different one way or another and we need to celebrate the way we are.  We are all special in our own way and special by the battles we fight, daily.  So next time someone praises you for how strong you are, say thank you and pat yourself on the back. Because I think you are special and the battle you fight every day is worth it.

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