Dancing Through Chronic Life



It’s really frustrating when you go to the doctor with a problem, with the intention of having him tell you something new to help fix that problem, and instead he smiles and says way too nicely,

“Well, you’re doing everything right.”

Don’t get me wrong; I am super glad that I have figured out how to do everything right. I’m a recovering perfectionist; of course I would never do anything wrong. (*SARCASM*)

It’s still kind of annoying though, to have your doctor say it.

Being chronically ill is not linear.

It takes a really long time to realize this.

Then it takes an even longer time to actually internalize it.

No, friends, being chronically ill is a Cha-Cha.

One step forward, one step back.

I happen to love love love Dancing With the Stars, and if given the opportunity, could talk about Derek Hough and his ridiculously watchable choreography forever and ever.


Oh to be you, Shawn Johnson…

I’ll spare you for now (don’t think I won’t come back to this eventually).

But really, how often do we accept the backwards motion?

Um, never. Forwards is better, duh.

Yes, yes, forwards, and onwards, and upwards are all good things. They are what we all strive for, day in, day out.

However, backwards still happens. Backwards cannot be avoided.

Backwards can be okay.

(Insert Shock & Awe HERE)

For instance, I have been dealing with some backwards for a week now. I did something weird to my knee, it swelled, it hurt a LOT, I stopped run/walking, then I stopped exercising altogether, and spent most of my time on the couch. Having spent far too much time in circumstances that are described as “bed-ridden” and “house-bound”, the alarm bells have been going off non-stop in my head.

“This is not the direction we’re supposed to be moving in,” the little voice up there says sternly. “Let’s not get used to this!”

And I won’t. Promise.

I’ve been “doing everything right” according to my rheumatologist. I’ve iced and elevated, I’ve rested and recuperated. Whereas my previous experience had led me to believe that I was simply never ever, ever going to be able to get back up on that treadmill, this has not been the case.

I took my step backwards, and now it’s time to take a step forwards again.

I walked a mile on the treadmill today, and it went just fine. No grapefruit knee!

On Tuesday, I talked about Adjusting my Attitude, and today I’m putting it into practice. I’ve always had difficulty “going with the flow” because I couldn’t clearly see a flow pattern. For me, I could only see abrupt stops with few starts in between. Maybe I’m just older now, or have finally earned my Chronic Illness Doctorate (#DumbledoreoftheChronics) but I’m starting to see it, the flow of steps forward and steps back.

Watch this video, at least the first minute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKeUpU446Xg

See how the lady dancer goes back, then forward? See how sometimes she spins so much she can’t possibly know which way is up? See how sometimes they just sidestep and go a different way altogether?

Chronic Illness does that.

It’s just not nearly as pretty.

I’ve decided that part of my attitude adjustment needs to be accepting the nonlinear motion of my chronic life. It helps to think of it as dancing, because I like dancing, and I could watch that Cha-Cha video over and over again (even though Derek Hough is sadly not in it).

I’m making a positive association here, linking my ups and downs to a well-choreographed piece of art in motion. It makes it easier to keep the cranky out.

“Well of course I took a step back,” I have decided to tell my alarm-bell voice. “It’s part of my choreography. Forward steps are up next.”

Maybe, just maybe, that little voice will quiet down long enough to see that it’s true. 🙂


Short post tonight, Chronic Readers; but something to think about, yes?

What has your Chronic Life Choreography been like, Readers? Are you a Cha-Cha like me? A deliberate, blinders-on Tango to wellness? A Jive of trying every new treatment that comes your way? A carefree Samba of letting it all go? I’d love to hear about it here in the Comments or over on my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/iamchronicallywell


10 thoughts on “Dancing Through Chronic Life

  1. Breanne says:

    I don’t mean this in a negative way, just a goofy way, but I think I would liken mine to my real-life dance skills. Completely uncoordinated, all confused and awkward, random, and uncomfortable. Hmmm, maybe if I improve my dance skills, my chronic illness course will follow along? Hmm, this could be good. lol.

  2. hopefulspoonie says:

    Hey, my name is Victoria. I have Lupus, POTS, & several other chronic illnesses. I adore this creative and relateable post! I am so happy I found it. It’s the perfect length too. Chronic illness is a dance. I personally move backwards all too often. Even though our dance might not be what we plan, it is still beautiful. Sending spoons, hugs, & prayers. Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey! ❤

    • iamchronicallywell says:

      Hi Victoria! Thank you so much for your kind words about my post! I’ve only recently found that I can dance forwards (as opposed to quite a bit of backwards and sideways myself!) and it’s such a pleasant surprise. Too often I forget to acknowledge my own forward path, baby steps as it might be. I hope that you can find your own form of forwards soon! Spoons, hugs and prayers right back to you ❤

      • hopefulspoonie says:

        I am so happy to hear that you are taking steps forward, Even baby steps are a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of your progress. Thank you so much. I look forward
        to reading more of your posts.

  3. annarosemeeds says:

    What a beautiful way to think about life and illness. We might not have the same struggles, but I feel so similar with my own health problems. Thank you so much for such an insightful post!

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