My right leg is extended out in front of me as I sit on the edge of my bed and slip a black Santa Cruz sock on my foot. I groan, pulling the sock up my calf, my back tightening and my hamstring burning with each tug of the cotton fabric.
I take a breath, several actually, before I repeat the maneuver on my left foot. Then I sit there, my body tired, my feet comfy, my face smiling.
This is the first time in years that I’ve put socks on by myself and actually kept them on. Before this moment, it was too painful, took too much energy for my ailing body. The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze, as they say. But now it is. Now putting on socks is sort of enjoyable. And while it still hurts, it doesn’t send my body crashing.
There have been lots of little victories like this during my recovery, lots of triumphs doing ordinary, mundane things that many people take for granted, my former healthy self included.
The other day I used a toilet for the first time since 2015. That’s probably more info than you wanted to know, but it was kind of a big deal. A big little victory, if you will.
I’ve also started wearing hoodies and long sleeve shirts again. I couldn’t for the longest time because the weight of the sleeves exhausted my arms, leaving them tired and throbbing—unable to do essential tasks like brush my teeth.
It feels a little silly to get excited about wearing socks and hoodies, and using a toilet again, but I’d rather get excited about these things than take them for granted. I just hope that these little victories continue. I’ve grown fond of them. Sometimes I fear that I’ll run out of such renewed experiences. They’re sort of addictive. There’s no experience quite like the first—the first time you ride a bike or drive a car, the first time you kiss someone or take a sip of alcohol when your parents aren’t looking.
But these little victories of mine are even better because I’m not learning how to do them for the first time. I already know how to do these things. I know how great they are. All I have to do is enjoy them.
This is all to say that while my illness is an ongoing, chronic thing, I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made. It’s weird how sometimes the victories seem like huge accomplishments—when I walked for the first time in five years—and other times they seem small. But regardless of how they seem, they all add up to something that I’m proud of.
BEFORE YOU GO . . .
1. As you may know, I’ve been looking for a new place to live, a healthier place free of wild fire smoke. So far everything I’ve seen is more expensive than I can afford, so if you would like to help take off some of the financial burden, please consider contributing here. Thank you!
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