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Before It’s Too Late

Reflections on adulthood and chronic illness

I am twenty-three, and it has really hit me lately that my childhood is completely over now. I am in no way, shape, or form a child or even a teenager anymore. I always remember thinking when I was a kid that people in university were really old, and I couldn’t imagine being that old. And well, now I’ve graduated from university, and my friends and I are all past the “normal university age.”

Facing unexpected realities

I saw my rheumatologist today, and he asked me if I was planning to get pregnant in the next year. I was shocked because the first thing that came to mind was that I was way too young for that. Of course, that is not remotely true anymore. Having a kid at 23 would not be strange.

What is my point with this? I don’t really know, except that I’ve always had a great fear of growing old. Kids are usually excited about getting older; it’s all they want, but I remember being upset on my sixth birthday about “getting old.” What I really should have been afraid of, though, is not getting old.

Contemplating life's purpose

We are all given so little time, and the catch with life is you never know when it’s going to be over. What should I be doing with the time that is given to me? What do I want to do? A line from my favorite song goes, “You can’t steal the things that God has given me.” But it’s not really true, is it? It seems like maybe our past and our lived experiences can’t be stolen from us, but even that is stolen from the people who forget who they are and who they were.

The uncertainty of life

These are the questions that have troubled humankind since the beginning of time, and the second catch with life is that if you ever find out the answers, you aren’t around to share them. So, what do we do? Fill our life with things so important to us that most days we don’t consider life’s big question. But for those of us who are chronically ill, whatever that may look like, I think we miss out on a lot of normal life, so it seems it would be even more important for us to fill our days with all the things that matter most to us, and find new things when the old ones get taken away.

Grappling with chronic illness

I know my chronic disease can’t be a cause of death, but many of the experiences I have had because of it have made me reflect a lot more on life than I think I otherwise would. I feel like I was told a lot that it wasn’t supposed to be very bad, you know, with all the advances in medication and all that. But it hasn’t really worked out that way so far, and as the years pass, I worry more and more about how it will affect me in the future. It is the fleeting feeling that I had as a child that keeps coming back. A fear of getting older, and with each day that passes, a fear that my best days trail behind me and are not yet to come.

Finding hope and optimism

Some days, though, I feel really optimistic and change the narrative: I can make my best days be the ones to come. I will leave you all with three lines from the song I mentioned earlier (Love and Hate by M Kiwanuka): “How much are we supposed to tolerate? Can’t you see there’s more to me than my mistakes? Sometimes I get this feeling, makes me hesitate.”

Actually, on a final note, I adopted a cat, and it really makes life so much better, 10 out of 10 highly recommend :)

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