Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Blessing in Disguise....NOT!!

I have to be honest.  

If one more person says something to me about my diabetes diagnosis being a "blessing in disguise" for some reason of theirs I fail to understand, I may not hold myself responsible for my response.

There is no blessing in having diabetes.....or cancer....or MS....or in any other life threatening illness.  Nada. Nil. Zip. None.

Are there still many of life's blessings going on in the lives of people learning to accept and cope with whatever disease they are living with? Of course there are. Life goes on and we all deal with our health problems in the best way we can.  As a Christian I get a lot of comfort from discussing my life with Jesus and seeing how things unfold in often amazing ways...but it is usually "in spite" of a health problem and rarely "because" of it.

Apparently now I will have the opportunity to minister to the many others who share my same disease and this is supposed to thrill me to no end.  I hope there will indeed be mutual ministry among my diabetic friends, however it really isn't sufficient reason for me, or likely them either, to get excited about being ill.  I find that kind of thinking to be bizarre in the extreme.

As Christians we sometimes attempt to deal with pain, our own and that of others, by trying to spiritualize each detail, every nuance, of the problem.  I understand that deep need to find something positive in frightening problems to assist us in coping, but I feel it trivializes the impact of the problem on the sufferer and does not allow us to "mourn with those who mourn".  

As a recently diagnosed diabetic I am in mourning...over the loss of freedom in deciding what and when to eat, over the extra work of taking blood samples at the right times throughout the day, over the extra burden it places on my husband, on friends when we are trying to socialize, over the knowledge that I am facing my own earthly mortality in a new and very real way, over the accompanying other possible problems that diabetics have to deal with...kidney and liver problems, blindness, heart attack, stroke, amputations..when you are newly diagnosed you get the whole packet of information to deal with very quickly and have to learn not to be a crepe hanger while learning to manage your disease. For the first few weeks there is a lot to be mourning with this and any chronic disease.

So, please forgive me if my first response is not one of seeing immediately the blessings of my predicament.  There will be many blessings still in life, of course there will be.  However, those blessings come alongside an added daily burden.  It will become easier with time as the diet restrictions, meal timing, blood letting etc. become the way I live my daily life.

I so appreciate how my sister in law felt when she was diagnosed several years ago with breast cancer.  While she appreciated the sentiment behind people shaving their heads to identify with cancer victims and survivors, her response to people wanting to be praised for their attempts to identify with her was that if they went and cut off one boob then they would REALLY understand some of what she was going through.  

I am learning a lot about what NOT to say to people who receive unexpectedly bad news about their health...may I be a wiser and more empathetic person as a result of my own problems. May I learn from my own experience now to be someone who learns well how to mourn with other people over their losses.  Then it will be easier and more appropriate to receive God's "...beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."(Isaiah 61:3)


chris e. said...

This is a good post! Do stock phrases go in and out of style? When my husband was diagnosed with his own 'personal thorn in the pancreas' I don't think one person told him it was a blessing in disguise. What he did hear however--to the point of 'ad nausea'--was that it 'was a lifestyle disease,' always from people with zero knowledge of genetic setup for such a thing and always with such an air of superiority!
I think someone poll people with chronic illness to see if anyone really has experienced a blessing in disguise.
I asked my husband. After almost 20 years of diabetes has he been able to find the blessing in disguise? Well, only one. That he doesn't 'have to eat sh*t he never wanted in the first place.' In other words, now he has a 'legitimate' reason to refuse the desserts he never wanted and never enjoyed--the very things that the 'lifestyle' crowd believed caused his illness!
I am glad he has found one small blessing (or silver lining in the cloud), however I have noticed that the people who try and force sweets on him are no more respectful of his 'legitimate' reasons than they were of his previous 'no thanks.'
So there you have it. Twenty years experience and still no real blessing, in disguise or otherwise.
Happy Blessing Hunting!

Susan said...

Thank you for understanding...sorry for the reason WHY you understand, but it is good to know this is kind of a universal experience in some ways.