I’ve been thinking a lot about the future in the past few months. More specifically what mine will entail and what ‘legacy’ I will leave behind me, if any. I may only be 30years old and by all intents and purposes ‘too young’ to worry about all that, but I also have an incurable illness. I struggle day to day with pain and sickness and when these annoyances hit my thoughts tend to drift to the remainder of my life. Flickers of ‘will this always be the case?’ and ‘what if I never get any better?’ start to glimmer then burn away in my mind as quickly as they light.
I know I am incredibly lucky in my life. I have amazing friends and family and a wonderful partner who all love and care for me, I am comfortable(ish) financially, have a full time job and an active social life, and I have two cats who are the absolute BEST a cat-lady can get, but it’s often difficult to focus on any of any of the positive stuff when I feel consistently rotten.
More recently I’ve begun to realise that I spend a huge chunk of my existence worrying about the ‘what if’s’. I know that when I look into my crystal bowel and consider my disease in the future, I see myself getting worse rather than better. I know this is of course not necessarily the case – I may, in time, be lucky enough to find myself in prolonged period of ‘remission’. Or, there may even be a cure found in my lifetime. You never know what the future holds. There are advances in medicine every day and Crohn’s is so changeable it’s nigh on impossible to predict where you will be physically from one day to the next, let alone in 5 or 10 years’ time.
I’ve decided it’s good to have plans; in terms of what I want for the years ahead; but far from healthy to focus all of the little energy I have into worrying about what the future may hold for my ailing bowels. I may get worse, I may spend much more time in hospital and I may end up back on the operating table. But I can’t stop or even control any of those things so why waste time worrying about it? The only things I can be 100% sure of are that I will die, and that I will always have cats. How I die, and if the cats are somehow involved, I’ll never know.
I can’t control everything in my life. I think that’s the main cause of my anxiety – knowing that since the day Crohn’s blundered into my life I’ve had every inch of control (and a few of my intestines) swiped away, never to return. I have to learn to accept that I can’t be held accountable for my loved ones’ feeling sad on my behalf, and I can’t stop them feeling those feelings. They are helpless too, after all. I can’t control what happens to my body today, tomorrow or the next day. All I can do is make the absolute most of everyday in which I’m lucky enough to feel good, and ensure I follow my doctors’ advice to get the best out of my treatment. And I certainly intend to continue in that vein. That I can control.