Letting Go of the Anger, Many Years After Diagnosis
On the inside of my right arm, just above the bend of my elbow, I have a small, circular scar. It’s a shade lighter than my skin tone and about the size of a peppercorn. It isn’t very noticeable, and I think I’m the only one who can see it. But although it’s small and hard to spot, it holds a deep significance for me.
The scar was caused by a PICC line that had to be inserted when I was in the intensive care unit due to a myasthenia gravis (MG) crisis. It isn’t the most traumatizing memory from that time, but for some reason, it holds power over me. That power used to be negative. What else could the scar remind me of besides fear and anger?
But time has made me look at it differently. My tiny, circular scar reminds me that I was hurt, I was in pain, but I made it. The wound closed, the skin healed. I’m still here.
It has taken me years to accept my myasthenia gravis diagnosis. And when I say years, I mean years. I have never met a problem I couldn’t compartmentalize, but there’s no way I could avoid this.
Previously, I spent too much time being angry at the hand I was dealt. The only point of view I had of MG was negative and pessimistic. Even when I was responding positively to medications and surgery, my anger stayed, settling in my chest like a bomb waiting to explode.
But the anger never made me feel better. The bomb became bigger and bigger, to the point that any little annoyance or inconvenience made me irritable beyond belief. But what was this anger doing for me? How was it helping? The short answer: It wasn’t.
I wish I could say I read some inspirational book or had some epiphany, but my attitude adjustment took a while to happen. I realized I couldn’t change my diagnosis, but I could change my reaction to it. Instead of being angry, I could learn from my experiences.
Myasthenia gravis is a part of me, and it will never go away, but I can still make it mean something. I can’t say I’ve found meaning in every single experience I’ve had in the past 10 years (I’ll never mentally recover from those bed baths), but I now look back on those memories with clearer eyes. I am here now because of those events, so how can I be mad about them? It was hard, it was grueling, but it didn’t break me. Now, I can look at that tiny scar on my arm and feel grateful that I’m still here.
With this column, I hope to help readers find strength in their weaknesses. Whether it’s physical or mental, we all have times when it feels like our helplessness will swallow us whole. But one thing I have learned throughout my MG journey is that times of weakness can only lead to moments of strength. We don’t know how tough we are until we have to be, and myasthenia gravis has taught me this lesson time and time again.
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