Good News! “I Can’t” is alive and well!

When I was in elementary school I had a teacher who greeted us at the beginning of the year with a funeral. I cannot remember which grade, but I do remember a large tombstone attached to the chalkboard that looked something like this:

I can't tombstone

I can’t and I won’t were banned vocabulary in the class that year.

It was a simple lesson with good intentions that stuck with me. I’ve even said something similar to my children when they refused to try.

It is common to think I can’t is a way of giving up. Those that dare utter those two words are quitters and failures in life.

Sometimes I can’t is an excuse. Sometimes it is the easy way out.

But I have come to learn that I can’t is alive and well.

I can’t simply got a name change.

For me his name is now undifferentiated connective tissue disease or UCTD.

UCTD is an interesting disease. It is a real disease with a real diagnosis, but at the same time, it is unknown.

Connective tissue diseases are autoimmune diseases that attack your body’s connective tissues. The name makes sense right?

Commonly known ones include Arthritis and Lupus. Other lesser known diseases include Sjorgen’s and Scleroderma.

UCTD is a pretender. It doesn’t present itself as one single disease. It looks like arthritis, brain fog, extreme reactions to temperature, super dry skin, or fatigue and exhaustion after doing the simplest task. Sometimes it is something new.

Most of the time, it’s like a grab bag. UCTD reaches in, grabs a handful of symptoms, and showers them over me like confetti.

The fun part is that it can be active one day, and asleep the next. And when it comes back, it may pick an entirely different set of symptoms and diseases to be for the day.

This has lead to a rich and varied life.

There are many days in which I appear completely normal. I can do almost everything I wish. I still have to limit sun exposure even with sunscreen and I still have to drink 160 oz of water or my mouth goes as dry as cotton. Otherwise, I’m good to go.

There is a day or two a week where I have to take it easy. I can’t play with my children as I’d wish or do as much housework as desired. I can’t be super active, but as long as I pretend it is another lazy Saturday I’m okay.

Then there are days when UCTD reminds me who he really is:

I CAN’T

And when he comes in to boss me around, he likes to stay for several days.

Last week was that week.

No matter how much I desired, no matter how much I wanted to do something, I couldn’t accomplish it.

Standing in the kitchen one afternoon I hit my breaking point.

I thought of my husband who works so hard to be the provider. I thought of how he gets up ever day and walks out the door in yesterday’s physical pain knowing that today will only bring more. I thought of how he’s willing to do whatever it takes to provide.

I want to honor him. I want to do more to help out. Watching his dedication to our family makes me want to do better.

And I couldn’t manage to wash dishes. Simply concentrating on washing a plate was talking everything out of me. Having to overhear a conversation between the girls was too much.

I broke. In frustration I stopped, walked to my room, shut the door, and sealed off life for a couple hours.

It is a good thing the girls are older and can manage on their own because at that moment, my diseases got the best of me. They were literally hitting me with everything they had. Physical pain reminding me of one thing:

I CAN’T

I try to put a positive spin on it. When I talk to others who are just beginning their walk in this awful world of chronic illness I put on a very brave face. I tell them, “There are days when you can’t, and that is okay. Embrace the good days, enjoy the lazy days of relaxation, and know it does get better.”

That isn’t a lie.

It does get better.

I have learned to manage my disease. I Can’t only visits a few times a month. At first, he never left. Now he only stays for a few days.

But there are days when I simply can’t go on.

I fail as a mom on those days. I sit in the corner and watch the day go by. The girls do their own work off the syllabus that the school has put together for them. They ask each other questions and figure things out together.

It would be a beautiful exercise in problem solving and working together if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m ignoring them. I’m incapable of forming the simplest words at times because of brain fog.

Even in my failure, even when I Can’t comes for a visit, I know that I’m going to be okay.

And when he leaves, I’m not better. I’m no different that I am when he is visiting.

Living with chronic illness means doing the best I can every day. Today’s best just simply different than yesterday’s or tomorrow’s.

 

This week’s best looks much better than last week’s. I spent the day yesterday catching up on missed dishes and laundry. I even felt well enough to do some long neglected chores and get ahead on a little house maintenance.

And to those of you who survive with me. You are not alone! Next time you’re at the bottom of your barrel, know that I’ve been there before and will be there again, and so will countless others.

~Crystal

 

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Smiles ~ Denise
    Oct 14, 2014 @ 15:02:51

    ❤ U on the good days and the bad.

    Like

    Reply

  2. Chris
    Nov 09, 2014 @ 19:01:16

    Thanks for sharing at somuchathome.blogspot.com! I hope you will link up each week!

    Like

    Reply

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