Dealing with illness – a sprint or a marathon

“Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.” – George Bernard Shaw

I don’t quite know where I’m going with this one.  I just read one of the serious blogs I follow and it put me in that melancholy state of mind where you start to “think” about things.

And it had me thinking about the difference between a short-term health crisis and a long-term illness.  I always think of it like the difference between a sprint and a marathon.

When someone has a short-term health crisis – I don’t know, say an appendicitis – you can focus all of your energy and attention on “fixing the situation.”  You can drop everything and just focus on the moment.

But when you’re dealing with a long-term illness or a significant injury that requires months or even years of recovery, you can’t sustain that pace.  You can’t keep up a sprinter’s pace when you’re running a marathon.

Suddenly you have to juggle competing priorities.  Yes, that person who is ill still needs care and attention.  But so do you.  And so does your job.  And so do your friends.  And your family.

And sometimes it’s hard to figure out which situation you’re actually in.  You think you’re in a marathon and it turns out you need to sprint.  You think it’s going to be a sprint and it turns into the never-ending run.

And sometimes thinking there’s an end in sight is the hardest part of all.  You think, “All I have to do is keep going for one more week and then we’ll finally be past this.”  But what happens when the finish line moves on you again and again?

Not that anyone is judging this person whose blog I was reading, but I have seen people judge others in similar situations.

A woman with a terminally ill husband goes to the spa and someone who has never had to walk that path thinks, “Well, isn’t she selfish.”  Or a man with a wife in the hospital decides to take a morning and play golf and people think, “Clearly he doesn’t love her.”

If you’ve never had to spend months or years living with someone who is seriously ill, it’s easy to judge.  Without having lived that life day in and day out, I don’t think many people can truly put themselves in that person’s shoes.

Hell, I spent years dealing with my father’s illness and I can’t even begin to imagine the trials this other blogger has survived.  This person dealt with a terminally ill parent who was much less self-sufficient than my dad was and now is dealing with a partner with a life altering injury.

I am in awe of their ability to go through a situation like that again knowing how hard it was the first time around.  And in awe of their ability to stay positive through it all.

(Although I would say to this person that it’s ok to crack every once in a while and let all those pent-up emotions pour out.  I used to lay in bed at night and imagine the worst case scenario I could and just sob and sob until I had no energy left.  Somehow doing that let me get up the next day and deal with everything once more.)

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And now, because this is my blog and I can’t just be serious all the time, a little random Hayibo humor to lighten things up:

19 Brads and rest of South Africa fail to understand concept of vanity plates

(I happen to know a South African named Brad, which is probably one of the reasons I find it funny.  Fortunately, I don’t think he has personalized plates that say Brad35.  If he does, I’d have to seriously reconsider our friendship.)

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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