About the Author: Gerry is a Pulmonary Hypertension Advocate that uses her platform to educate about chronic illness. She shares all things about what it's like to have a chronic illness, even as a mom and military wife that always seems to have something going on! Even amidst her busy lifestyle she makes time to educate her followers and keep them up to date on her health journey. To stay up to date with Gerry and learn more about Pulmonary Hypertension (and see some adorable family photos) make sure to check out her Instagram here!
“Hi, yes, I’d like a refund on my body. It’s kinda defective and really expensive.” -said anyone with a chronic illness
I’ve seen this quote a thousand times on Instagram profiles, Facebook memes and anything that has to do with chronic illnesses. Honestly, some days that’s pretty true. This body is definitely defective at best-- and super expensive, and I don’t mean the clothes I put on it. No, it’s the stuff I put into it that’s really expensive.
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. (And FYI - when they rule something idiopathic it basically means they have no idea why you have it.) Pulmonary Hypertension is a rare, chronic illness that affects the arteries in the lungs that carry blood from your heart to your lungs. When the arteries are affected, it creates strain on the heart to pump an adequate amount of blood to your body, therefore oftentimes causing your heart to work so hard that it goes into right-sided heart failure.
Honestly since diagnosis, life has been somewhat of a whirlwind for this little body. It was, in its prime, an awesome, athletic, nothing-is-too-hard type of body. But now it’s a different story.
Now it seems whenever I’m sick, it’s never just a simple cold. If I get a cold, I end up with bronchitis. I get bad allergies and end up with a sinus infection. I eat something somewhat sour, and I have food poisoning for three days.
Once my kids got a cold, and my husband never once even got a cough, whereas I ended up so sick that I got pneumonia in one of my lungs.
There are many days when I look at my young, 30 year old body and I wonder why it’s betraying me. There are times I find myself hugging a toilet, frustrated and wondering why this body just can’t do its job. Loving my body is hard when I feel like it’s letting me down.
I don’t like to live in those bad times though. Those moments, as much as they suck while they’re happening, they’re fleeting and over quicker than I realize. Sometimes I look back and think, “man did that really happen?” The most important thing that chronic illness has taught me is that you choose your attitude towards every situation.
Occasionally now I will stand in the mirror and soak in all the stretch marks, the central line scars, the IV scars, and I see a body that has fought great wars. I look at my body and I think about all the times it has defied odds. The times it has gone through a battle that many people have lost, and come out a victor.
I envy the people that can look at their bodies that haven’t been through the trials of child bearing and child birth. I am self conscious of my scars when I’m in a bathing suit. But those days of insecurity are mostly behind me, I have learned to love my body because it’s strong.
I’ve learned to love my body for its strength not its weaknesses. And I learned to love my body even in moments when I want to curl up in a ball and cry because of the pain. During those times I want to scream at my body for not holding up as well as others would, I remind myself that some people have been through the same struggle and broken under the pressure. I remind myself that this body has been through tough times that people can only dream of, and I realize that I wouldn’t have it any other way.