Wednesday, January 30, 2008


In 1995, I was struck by an illness that kills 90% of those diagnosed with it within 5 years.

I’m happy to say that, 13 + years later, I’m still here.

I had two choices: claim my victimhood and let the illness have its way with me or fight. I chose to fight.

It would have been much easier to claim victimhood status, file for disability and give in. After all, it’s not my fault. I didn’t do anything wrong. This isn’t a “life-style” disease, like so much cancer is. (You can quite smoking, if you want to.) My heart just got damaged, no one knows exactly how. So, I had the option of giving up and letting life pass me by, ending all too quickly, not with a bang, but a whimper.

I have watched my mother use her (mostly imagined) various illnesses to escape having to live her life. She passed her responsibilities as a mother and housewife on to me when I was only 9 years old. I had adult responsibilities when my greatest worries should have been pop music, school and getting to the mall to be with my friends. She has never recognized what she stole from me nor apologized. I haven’t forgiven her and don’t intend to. Stealing someone’s childhood is an unforgivable crime.

I was diagnosed then my girls were 12 and 8. I could have done the same thing she did and dump my responsibilities onto my eldest daughter. After all, I was far sicker than my mother ever hoped to be. I had the ‘right’ to some rest, right?

Wrong! My kids had a right to a parent who cared about and for them. Not some whiney victim of no use to anybody.

I’m still plugging along. My kids are both grown women now and, hopefully, don’t think too badly of me. I know there were lots of things I didn’t do due to poor health but I tried to keep that to a minimum. No, we never played with that Easy-Bake oven but in later years we baked real cookies together.

I have my regrets, to be sure. I regret ever complaining about having to tuck my younger daughter in for the night upstairs when I was tired. I regret we never got around to making applesauce again before she moved away.

I should have listened to my older daughter sing more before she left home. I gave her lots of space as a teenager. Now, maybe, I think I got too far away.

But, you can’t live your life looking backward, especially when you’re fighting a life-threatening illness. You need to keep that focus forward, to getting better day-by-day, getting stronger.

On that note, I carried in 4 bags of groceries last night, including 5 lbs of potatoes and 3 lbs of onions! Progress!! :-D

Now, if I could only get some of my stamina back, I’d really have something!

And you have to keep remembering that you have no alternative. Victimhood, while it may seem easier in the short term, only causes more problems in the long term. If I don’t get up every morning and go to work, who’s going to make my house and car payments? The government? Hah! Not likely. There’s me and only me to look after me. There’s no giving up and giving in. Hard but true.

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