Illness helps you appreciate those around you. It reminds you to rely on God for strength. And it warns you when your bag is too heavy.
My health has been a quirky character in the soap opera that is my life.
He is the emotional best friend who fights with me as soon as I make a decision that he deems silly.
What decision did he deem silly this time? Let me tell you.
I am physically stronger than I look. I don’t have the exact number of pounds I can lift, but carrying a heavy bag with textbooks, graded papers, and folders up and down three flights of stairs all day long hasn’t bothered me. Someone has commented on the heaviness of my bag almost every day in the last three months and I usually shrug it off because “I want to do it on my own!”
How silly that seems now. Health, you have permission to freak out now.
And boy, did he.
I woke up on 5 am Sunday with an intense pain on my left side. I have experienced Pain before, but something about this seemed odd. I woke up Kyla and Camille who then woke up Mr. Varberg. “What do you want me to do?” “Call my mom!”
Now, you may be saying: “Katharyn, your mother is across the ocean, what can she do?” But I know you all know Robyn Stong aka Dr. Mitchell, so you are probably saying “Great call, Katharyn.”
We established that morning through a Doctor Mom to Daughter phone consult that it wasn’t my heart, but probably a strained muscle/cartilage or a rib that popped out of place.
Now three days later, after a student’s mom came and saw me at home, I went to a clinic and had an X-Ray, all is well. I am still in pain, but the diagnosis was confirmed: Carrying a heavy bag all day long for three months caused a rib muscle to tear.
I texted my colleague and friend, Darcy, that day. “Kath, that is why you have to let us carry your bag.” “From now, on. Yes. Yes. Yes.”
My desire to be independent has gotten me in trouble before, and even more so here. My tendency is to view anyone who offers help as them giving me a hidden message: “You are incapable and incompetent.” However, in reality that is not what anyone, American or Filipino, is saying.
I have had so many instances where someone has told me “You can’t” to my face that I assume people are trying to tell me that secretly.
People aren’t telling me I’m incapable. They genuinely want to help. And that is a strange concept to adapt to, not because it is a foreign concept, but because I have had to fight so often that my tendency is to reject help and struggle on my own. I then end up not being as successful as I could have been.
My humility has been tested here. I have had to accept help when I have not wanted to do so; I have had to admit when I am wrong.
Health is a blessing, but illness is not a curse. Illness helps you appreciate those around you. It reminds you to rely on God for strength. And it warns you when your bag is too heavy.