Day to day, it’s the little things that bother me the most about my life with chronic illness.
Don’t get me wrong, the big things hurt too; not being able to have kids, not being able to drive, not being able to eat proper food. Those definitely hurt.
But I tend to pack the big things away into a box, squash the lid down as best I can, and tuck it away in a corner of my heart. They hurt too much to let them just roam free.
Not so, with the little things. I don’t think to tuck them away, because they’re so small. So unimportant. Just minor details. Until suddenly, they’ve piled up so high there’s no air left to breathe.
There’s a dead bug on my bedroom floor. I have no idea what kind, it’s some kind of beetle. It’s been there for weeks. I can see it from my bed, and it mocks me, pointing out just how long it has been since I’ve had the strength or energy to vacuum. I even have a robot vacuum cleaner I could use – but I’d need the energy to pick up all the things on the floor first, like the bag from my hospital stay (6 weeks ago) that’s waiting to be unpacked, and the box of clothes that my sister gave me to try on, and the bag from Christmas with presents in it that I haven’t had the energy to put away yet…
And then I’d have to move the furniture that the robot can’t fit under… and oh, yeah… can’t lift things like that for a while yet, because I’m still healing. I’m so ‘unable’ at the moment, I can’t even vacuum WITH A ROBOT VACUUM CLEANER!
Then there’s my shower tiles. Over the past few months, they’ve been showing more signs of life than I have, with mould slowly creeping through the grout. I look at it angrily every time I shower. Showering is already a mammoth effort – my pacemaker records my data and marks it down as me going for a run! I can’t even manage to shower myself every day, let alone be scrubbing the shower walls (and chemical sprays are out of the question – just the lingering smell of them makes me sick for days).
And don’t get me started on the kitchen sink…
The drain has been collecting all the grime and filth from the washing up water for… I don’t even know how long it’s been since it was cleaned. All I know is that it’s slowly been getting more and more disgusting, and every time I get myself a drink of water, I look at that drain and feel beaten.
They’re just little things. A dusty floor. A dirty shower. A grimy drain.
But to me, they’re all signs: banners proclaiming my lack of health, my lack of ability to stay on top of the housework, my lack of say in how I spend my days.
So the other day, when I had a rare ‘spare spoon‘, I cleaned the kitchen drain with an old toothbrush and some abrasive cleaner. It felt good.
Now, I smile every time I go into the kitchen and see that drain.
I want you to know that helping someone with chronic illness, or showing them that you care, doesn’t have to be via showy ‘television worthy’ backyard makeovers, or expensive home renovations (although, those are always welcome!). Offering to pop over and do half an hour of housework for them, organising to pick up some groceries from the store, or even just sending them a text to let them know you are thinking of them… that’s meaningful. Don’t underestimate the importance of little things.
When your whole life seems out of your control, it’s nice to have been able to tug on the leash and brought it to heel, even if only for a moment. Having no say in a lot of aspects of your life makes the things you can control important, even if they are only little things.
Even if it’s just the drain in the kitchen sink.
Is there a ‘little’ thing that’s been bothering you lately? What’s something you’ve accomplished recently (no matter how small) that made you proud ?