I’m Okay, You’re Okay

People will often ask me, “How are you?” For a spoonie on the kidney transplant list, that’s a loaded question. How do I answer?

I could spew the whole unvarnished truth. “Well, you know, I’m exhausted. I’m short of breath, various parts hurt, I’m worried about how my health is impacting my marriage/kids/finances/career, I have to choose my wardrobe based on what the day’s symptoms are, the meds cause wild weight fluctuations, and sometimes the renal diet is a regular bummer. Potatoes, amirite? How are you?”

Yeah, no one wants to hear that.

The alternative is, “Fine, and you?” That’s not very truthful. I’m not fine.

I’m learning that as I get sicker and navigate what my new normal is, not being everyone else’s version of okay is really okay.

Despite all my issues (and I have medical baggage like you wouldn’t believe) I’ve realized how blessed I really am. Yes, blessed. Sounds crazy, right? Let me explain.

I have the most incredible husband. The man has been by my side through one medical hit after another, and he loves me with a storybook kind of love: passionate, full, true, unwavering. When he said “in sickness and in health” he meant it. Spoonies are used to hearing stories of how lovers grow weary of the maladies of their significant others and hit the road. Deep down it’s one of our biggest fears: to paraphrase the Clash, will he stay or will he go? I don’t worry about that anymore.

I have a tremendous support team. I have family and friends that check in on me, pray for me, and encourage me to be my best. I have my art therapy class, and choir, and a faith community that loves me and nourishes me through everything.

I have people on my side who understand that I’m #sicknotweak and still see that I have great value to add, even when I need to couch my butt with my feet elevated to reduce the cankles. These are people that get it, that know I’m not lazy, that I’m really doing everything I can at that particular moment. And I do have that sweet handicapped parking tag for days when I need a little bit more help.

It’s so easy to count up all the negatives in my life, and for several months, I did just that. Oh, woe is me, I can’t do the things I used to do. I’m so over that way of thinking. It takes too much time and energy. Sure, being sick means there’s a lot I can’t do anymore. One blessing is all the things I’ve tried because I needed to find a new way to function. I learned to bake low sodium bread, and to use Prismacolor pencils, and the joys of Netflix documentaries. I started reading Vincent Van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo.

Every day on this side of the grass is a sweet gift. Yes, life is hard, but it is also beautiful.

What we focus on, grows. The question is, what do you want to fertilize today? The weeds or the roses?

I choose the roses.

J

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