Fear, grief, & chronic illness

I’m scared. I’m really sick, again, or still, depending on where we draw the increasingly fuzzy lines between one sinus infection and the next. The doctor I saw today confirmed I have laryngitis as well, and was worried I will not be well enough for my scheduled surgery this Wednesday. We’ve added steroids to the antibiotics and prescription for rest and fluids. With a present infection I’m also running a much greater chance of post op infection. I’ve experienced that before, severe secondary infection after having my tonsils removed at 10. I’d prefer not to do a repeat!

It’s hard to keep my spirits up. This week was set aside to get everything ready for my recovery period post surgery. I wanted to mop and clean and make sure there was blended food in the fridge and take as much of the load off Rose as I could. I also wanted to get my library books back, and finalise the essay and tutorial due next term in case recovery knocks me off my feet for longer than expected… So much for those plans.

I’m in a vulnerable place with my business. I’ve just emptied out the beautiful studio we had to close. I let a good friend down. I never even put a launch together for it. Everyone was really enthusiastic about it, but not enough to visit. I was sick and busy. Another learning curve, another failure. Something else to keep me up at nights. I’m so sick all the time. How am I ever going to make any business work? I keep trying. I’m working so hard and it’s just not enough. ‘I hate myself’ is a constant quiet drone in my head. There’s always so much fodder for it. There’s too much against me.

I’ve added mental health to all my promotional material but not had a chance to launch that side of the business yet to generate some work. In the meantime, my face painting business which was getting really busy has gone frighteningly quiet. The booked and cancelled surgeries are costing me work with long term clients, my bread and butter relationships. And maybe I’ve made a terrible mistake and people are too frightened by the new marketing to hire me. It’s too early to tell what’s costing me the most, I have to wait for surgery to be done then reassess, because the illness and hospital will keep destroying anything I set up in the meantime. A small business like mine is so vulnerable to any perception of unreliability. I’m so replaceable. My sickness is tearing apart everything I build.

So, hopefully, after I recover, I’ll find that place of hope again and keep building, and something worthwhile will come from all this hard work and heartache. And if I keep being sick, I’ll have to change it all again. Move to product creation instead of service delivery, something I can do even if my health keeps crashing. I’m so tired and so discouraged. 😦 I’m doing everything right and it’s not enough. If I could just disentangle the grief and self hate and overwhelming sense of failure and the gap maybe then I could breathe.

This really hurts. It’s like being down the bottom of a deep pit. It’s so painfully lonely. I know other people handle their pits with positivity, or that other people have deeper pits, but somewhere in claiming the right to my own pain and fear, to name it and call it what it is, to express some of the bitter disappointment at how things work out, I find strength. It’s my story. I don’t need to compare it to anyone else’s, I don’t need to win some ‘tragedy of the year’ competition to feel hurt, I don’t need to handle it in some publicly approved way to have the right to be hurting in public or to reach out.

The funny is, when I let myself own my pain, the loneliness eases a little. The gap becomes a thing I can navigate again. I can find humour, wear the loss a little more lightly, present the face of disability the world tolerates better – articulate, insightful, optimistic, discrete. Carve myself some space to grieve. There’s so much grieving in sickness.

3 thoughts on “Fear, grief, & chronic illness

  1. I understand this fairly well, I can emapthise with you- I keep feeling like my PTSD and back injury derailed my life so far I can’t pick it up. I hope the surgery goes well and I hope that when it’s done, you’ll be fighting fit and healthy. xx


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