I think, as humans, we assume that things won’t happen to us and we’re indestructible. How often do you see people speeding or dangerously driving, seemingly not caring that they could crash? Or extreme sports where the slightest wrong move could result in you breaking your neck? Or even something as random and unlikely as getting in an unlicensed black cab or walking down a dark alley and meeting the only murderer for miles.
But things do happen. People do have car accidents or sporting accidents which cripple them. People do get murdered or kidnapped and the unlikely does happen. But until something happens specifically to us, it’s very easy to think ‘it won’t happen to me’ and not appreciate how fragile life actually is.
Having a life threatening, chronic illness kind of makes you face up to that a lot. Sometimes every day. For me, it was twice this week. The first time was when I broke my foot earlier this week, or rather, I found out I’d broken my foot. Let me just say straight out that adrenal insufficiency and Addison’s isn’t a terminal illness nor does it shorten your life in itself. However, side effects from medications you have to take and complications arising from having the illness tend to be the main cause of death. So breaking my foot reminded me of the fact that taking steroids every day has made me have the bones of a 70 year old in terms of brittle ness. And adrenal insufficiency means it takes longer for me to heal.
Having a broken foot isn’t a big deal. It’s the fact that I got a stress fracture without actually noticing and the fact that this is a big indicator of what’s likely going to happen more in the future. I always knew I was going to get a stress fracture at some point because of taking steroids, but like driving too fast and only really thinking about the consequences when you have an accident, I didn’t really think it would happen so soon until it did. So I had to face my lack of invincible-ness.
The second time was this weekend when I went to play with my niece and nephew who are 1 and 3 respectively. I like playing, but I tried to be sensible and avoid overdoing it. I got excited and involved and I still managed to overdo it. I wasn’t anywhere near adrenal crisis stage but I did have to updose a bit. Updosing isn’t a big deal if you’ve been dealing with AI for a while, you kind of just recognise what’s going on and do it. But when it’s for doing something as basic as playing with bricks on the floor or talking, which a 3 year old can literally do quite happily and without any fatigue, it makes you realise how volatile an illness you have or even how little energy you have healthy or otherwise in comparison to a toddler.
However, life is for living. I probably would have still broken my foot because I’m on steroids, regardless of if I’d been more careful (or if I’d known how I did it in the first place!). I don’t play with my niece and nephew every day, so it’s ok to have exceptions and push my limits a bit, as long as it’s safe. It’s finding a balance between feeling invincible and feeling paralysed by fear.
I think I’m finding a pretty good balance most of the time. I’ve faced my invincibility. But I look at some people and wish they were able to acknowledge that life is valuable and we’re not invincible so that they don’t take it so much for granted.