Health is everything

Good health is everything. So some people believe.

 

As humans  we structure our needs in that well-known colloquialism of ‘[insert life changing challenge e.g. having no job or experiencing a divorce] …but hey at least I have my health’.

 

I would argue that having no job or experiencing the break up of a lifelong relationship are often far more significant events than experiencing poor health, but as a society good health is so fundamentally cherished and important that the loss of it trumps most other misfortunes.

 

My issue with that idea is not just because it is totally subjective (someone’s poor health could be frequent headaches vs another’s experience of a life-threatening disease). But I also believe that some degree of poor health can be an enormously influential motivation to improve health. A motivation, that many people without an illness and those who take their good health for granted, do not have.

 

So I do believe that health is everything, but perhaps not in the same way that traditional phrase can imply, and I certainly don’t believe the opposite logic that poor health is worse than everything else life throws at you.

 

I’m aware that some aspects of this belief are controversial. Especially when poor health in its various forms kills people. It will probably kill me one day. But as a person with a chronic illness, I passionately believe I have gained things through having CF that I would unlikely have otherwise had.

 

Hopes, dreams, and a perspective that I fear would have passed me by if CF didn’t force me to slow down at times. A wish to be more grateful for the good happenings in life and a slow-burning determination to achieve what I care about, that personally, I think my CF is partially responsible for.

 

Some of the most inspiring, compassionate and intelligent people I have ever met live with poor health. I do not believe it is a coincidence.

 

Health is not a dichotomy.  Not everything that results from poor health is bad, and not all that comes from good health is instantly positive.

No matter how difficult or uncertain life can sometimes be with a lifelong illness, had I lived a life with perfect health I would simply not be me.

“Illness isn’t inspiring.”

Illness isn’t inspiring.

I’ve often heard lines like “He’s so inspiring, I could never do what he does,” when someone expresses their admiration for a person suffering from a serious illness. It’s a nice sentiment. But I don’t think many people realise what they could do, if faced with an illness and having no choice but to deal with it. Some people become extraordinary in the face of their adversity, but none of us really know what we’re capable of until we have to. Your resilience can’t be tested in theory, only in reality.

But for me, when it happens, there is nothing inspiring about being ill.

The day-to-day of being ill, is very far removed from ‘inspirational’. It’s characterised by all the things you can’t do, the possibilities you can’t realise in that moment.

It’s about the books and articles I can’t quite grasp the meaning of, because my head feels fuzzy.

The blogs I don’t write because I lack the energy or I feel down.

The projects I put off because I stop believing in myself and feel like I don’t have the ability to pull them off.

The exercise I don’t start because I just don’t want to be reminded of the heavy concrete feeling settling in my chest.

The friends I don’t talk to because I don’t have news to share and I don’t want to keep repeating myself.

 

Good health on the other hand, is like an adrenaline shot. It’s a burst of clarity and creative excitement, of possibility. A chance to start afresh.

It’s inspiring.

And for the first time in a while, I’m feeling pretty damn good.