My airways flamed up and tightened, and my energy drained away. I was suffocating, so I left to use my nebulizer. It helped some, but I still felt like an elephant sat on my chest. I was exhausted. Bone tired. I couldn’t even think anymore. When I tried to, I cried.
Anytime I get into contact with smoke, even candle smoke, my airways rebel. My sarcoidosis flares up and I get very ill and have to take antibiotic and greater doses of Prednisone.
I had intended to stay for a wedding’s dance, but I had to leave. I felt guilty, but I couldn’t hold myself strong anymore. My husband told me, “I wish you wouldn’t always feel guilty about everything.” But I was, and I often do. I feel like I let people down, like I disappoint them, like I don’t measure up.
I’m not asking for pity, but I empathize with anyone who has a chronic illness, especially those invisible illnesses when people may say, “But you look good.” When your illness doesn’t always show, some people think it must not be so bad, and they don’t offer support like they do with more visible illnesses.
I’m trying to be more honest with how I really feel, but I still easily hide behind a smile. I’m trying to feel less guilty for saying “No,” but it’s not easy. Not everyone understands, and some even think I’m faking it. Some think I should suck it up, that I can do more than I think I can. So I try to convince myself that I’m fine. Then I don’t listen to the warning signals in my body, because I have those voices in my head. And I pay for it again and again.
It tears my heart out to disappoint people, especially loved ones, if I can’t always make it to activities. Sometimes I even reason with myself that if Christ’s grace is sufficient for me, I should be able to do all these things in spite of chronic fatigue and illness. Or I beat myself up – If I had more faith, maybe this affliction would leave me. I even feel guilty to ask for prayers, because maybe then I’m complaining or someone might think I’m feeling sorry for myself. After all, there are people who have it worse than I do.
I don’t know why God allows this thorn in my flesh, but He does teach me deeper lessons through it. When I get so sick, I can’t think, and Satan takes advantage of me. Negative voices flood in and feel like they’re going to drown me. I have no strength to fight them or to focus on God’s promises. But in my weakness, God is strong. My fingers slip as I try to cling to the cross, but an Invisible Hand hangs on to me.
As the clouds of fatigue clear up in my brain, I wonder what we can focus on when troubles overwhelm us:
The mighty deeds of the Lord,
What Jesus has sacrificed for us,
Because only in this,
We gain the victory.