One of the things you hear a lot about people with chronic diseases is how strong it makes them. That used to drive me nuts. "I'm only strong because I don't have a choice!" I'd think. "I want to be a wimp like everyone else!" But at two years in, I've discovered that there's a different side to all this.
It's not that I'm so strong. It's just that I've faced a lot of things that scare me, and I survived. That makes it easier to face your other fears. I've spent at least 10 hours in the dentist's chair this year. It's something I've needed to do for years, but I just kept avoiding it. On Friday I had a wisdom tooth removed. And you know what? None of it was a big deal. The extraction didn't even hurt. I wish I'd done it years ago.
Strangely, things that never used to bother me are the things that bring me the most anxiety these days. Before I got sick, I never had a problem leaving the house. I was always out somewhere- at the movies, meeting a friend for a meal, at the bookstore or just grocery shopping. Now leaving the house is an event. I plan carefully where I'm going, and half the time I put it off at the last minute.
So I guess I just appear strong because I no longer fear the things that healthy people do. Needles? No big. Medical tests? Bring it. The dentist? Been there, done that. But I still struggle. I still have fears. It's just that the things I fear are things that most healthy people take for granted. I think the lesson for me- for everyone- is to push through those fears and do it anyway. So far, nothing has been as bad as I thought it would be. Lately I've even started appearing in a bathing suit in public. After that, what else is there to be afraid of?