The $10 Gift Card

That’s just what “good days” are – a $10 gift card!

Don’t those gift cards feel great to have? You think you’re gonna save so much money! But we all know, somewhere in the back of our minds, that those gift cards are only designed to get us in the store. Which they do. Then you see a dozen things that you just need to have. I mean, how did you live without them for so long?? So you get them, and keep telling yourself you have ten extra dollars on hand, so it’s all good! Then you get to the check-out counter, and the total is $22.95. That’s your $10 gift card, plus the $10 in your daily checking account, and $0.95 from your savings.

How did that even happen???

Truth is, it happens a lot! Happened to me just yesterday in fact. All the sedatives in my system had put me out and I finally got a good night’s sleep. I woke up feeling great in the morning (as great as it gets these days anyway)! So I decided to put up the laundry before heading for work. It doesn’t sound like much, but it involved carrying/dragging a heavy basket and a lot of bending back and forth – not something I am often in a position to undertake. But yesterday I had the $10 gift card so I could help my husband out with the chores! Then I went to work and did a lot of pipetting (as molecular biologists are wont to do). In all fairness, I get did a lot done and got the data I have been trying to get for a month now. Graded some papers, entered some grades, sent off a few emails, sat through a seminar, all with almost no breaks – oh I felt great! If only for that one day, I was back to my regular level of productivity!

And then it hit me. All of a sudden I got up, felt sick and dizzy, and had to collapse back down to my chair. I became cognizant of a gnawing ache. All that pipetting was making the pseudo-neuropathy in my arms worse for a while but I had been ignoring it. Now my nerves stung and muscles ached with a vengeance. I quickly turned to my heating pad, and eventually towards my painkillers, and had to ask a friend/colleague to carry one of my heavier bags to the car. The rest of the evening was spent largely collapsed in bed under a heating blanket.

On days like that, you wonder if that $10 gift card was worth it. You didn’t save any money at all, and maybe even spent more than you had. But “healing” in the context of a chronic illness is not just a physical process. In fact, you never heal physically (that’s why it’s called chronic) but you can reduce the impact your illness has on you. That impact is in equal parts physical and mental/emotional. I have always been a go-getter about nearly everything and the effect fibromyalgia was having on my productivity always did bother me. So if only for one day, I felt like my old self, and got the work done that I felt I needed to do, I feel like it was probably worth it. When constantly fighting a chronic illness, it becomes easy to think that you have become enslaved by your illness. For one day, I was in charge and not my illness. And that’s a good feeling worth holding on to!




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