On the Frustrations of Illness

Few things are as frustrating as a barely perceptible illness. Because the signs and symptoms are barely discernible, the world expects one to function as if all systems are in optimal condition.  But the taint of ill-health remains, hovering round the edges of one’s consciousness before gliding center stage in the form of a sudden shortness of breath, a tightness in the chest and an explicable loss of stamina. Then off it’ll go again, gone before any serious alarm can be sounded, tricking the afflicted and the unafflicted alike into thinking that the enemy has departed—or has at least begun packing its bags.

This is the part I resent most about being sick—the part where you know you’re not quite well but don’t really have the evidence to support your claims (or at least elicit some compassion). So what if you’ve got weak lungs? In a knowledge-driven global economy, the only debilitating condition is the inability to think. Provided one can draw enough breath to type into a keyboard, then things are perfectly dandy as they are.

Of course, this entire harangue is merely the external projection of an internally-directed resentment. I don’t feel sick enough to deserve resting, but I’m not operating at full capacity either. The sense of limbo annoys me (as all uncertainties invariably do). And it also makes me wonder: if this is what growing old’s going to feel like—this sense of one’s body lagging perennially (fitfully and wistfully) behind one’s soul—then aging gracefully might be a sorely challenging task for me.

The silver lining in this hazy, asthmatic cloud is that I’m at least ahead of my deadlines and don’t have to strain myself (too much) over the next several days. Hopefully, that’s all the time I’ll need to complete the inner recovery that all the outer signs proclaim.


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