A Change of Perspective

We were a motley crew gathered in the courtyard of that hotel. But one thing we shared in common brought us together: multiple chemical sensitivity.

My husband Michael has MCS, and exposure to chemicals found in common household items, cleaners, pesticides, paints, and fragrance products make people like him very sick. The hotel had one building devoted to accommodating people with this chronic health condition.

Most people booked a room because they were in town for treatment by a renowned MCS doctor. Michael and I booked it because we wanted to take a short vacation and it was the only local place we could think of that could accommodate his complicated allergies.

A few of us gathered outside and struck up a casual conversation that quickly turned to personal stories—how their health broke, how long they had been sick, all the therapies and medications they tried, and what brought them to the hotel.

Surprisingly, one woman was in town for a check-up after significant improvement in her condition. “I’m so exhausted today, but that’s mostly because I was out line dancing until 5 a.m. I used to be sick, but now I’m doing much better. You really can get better. It’s a journey.”

My eyebrows raised. “Line dancing until 5 a.m.?” Everyone else standing there was just trying to survive. While her words were intended to be an encouragement, it was a little irritating to hear them from someone who had enviably left the chronic illness life behind. Others probably felt agitation creeping in, too.

As we parted ways with the dancer and the rest of the patients to unload our luggage from the car, another guest arrived.

I hesitated to exhale for fear she’d flutter away like a dandelion seed. She was extremely thin and frail—just a wisp of her former self, I imagine.  Though the sun beat down with its August glare, clothing covered nearly every inch of her body, and she wore a large, wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect her face. Tubes connected her to an oxygen machine, but someone had to pull the tank for her—she didn’t have the strength.

She looks like she’s allergic to the whole world, I thought.

I looked over at Michael pulling our heavy suitcases out of the trunk. He wiped the sweat off his brow, smiled weakly, and carried them to our hotel room. He’d been ill for four years, and his sickness required these specialized accommodations. Yet here we were kicking off a mini vacation before our new baby arrived. Even with chronic fatigue, the new hotel guest made him seem like a vibrant, healthy man in his prime.

Suddenly, he was an athlete.

Don’t Wait for Perfection

Michael and I haven’t been able to blog for the last couple of months due to a pretty busy season of life. But part of the reason it has taken us so long to come back to it is a mild case of perfectionism.

What can we write about that will encourage our readers? Do we have time to make it truly inspiring? What if it flops? What if no one reads it anyway? So, instead of writing as we could, we published nothing at all.

Finally, this week, I decided to just sit down and start. And you know what? Writing another blog post is not so impossible. In fact, it’s got me thinking, in how many other areas of life do I allow perfectionism to prolong my progress?

When dealing with chronic illness,  many parts of life will never be perfect for reaching our goals. There will ALWAYS be obstacles, so it’s tempting to make excuses.

I’d like to lose 15 pounds and write my own kids book. He wants to start painting and improve his health.  Together, we’d  like to start a side business to supplement our income. And in spite of the complexity of our circumstances, these are things we could actually do if we didn’t allow perfectionism to get in the way.

With this realization, we are making a bucket list of some things  we’d like to accomplish this summer.  And they may not all be grand achievements, but they will represent a git ‘er done attitude instead of waiting forever for the ideal conditions.

What would you like to cross off your list at the end of this summer?   If you were willing to let it be less than perfect, could you start right now? Your goals could be as simple as checking off a summer reading list, getting some regular exercise, cultivating healthier habits, memorizing Scripture, or getting out of the house no matter how poorly you feel.

Instead of waiting until the time is ‘right,’ why don’t you just get started?

Do not despise these small beginnings…. (Zechariah 4:10)
Don’t wait for perfection. Do it, then fix it as you go.“-Paul Arden

 

When Illness Brings Life to a Screeching Halt

Forced rest stinks, especially when it is a long-term part of your life. It’s like telling waves to stop rolling or the wind to stop blowing. And it feels like a big step backwards—especially when everyone else is getting their business done.

road-closed-main

That’s one of the most frustrating parts of illness, isn’t it? You have to stop life and what you’re doing right in the middle of everyone else around you living their lives. False guilt can pile up on your soul for not being productive.