The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

“You Must Be Feeling Better” Uh… No…

ill-let-you-know-whe-am-feeling-betterI’m being hard to please. I admit it. I don’t know what I want, but I somehow desire other people to figure it out, when even I can’t.

The truth of the situation is that I have been off of my main medication for rheumatoid arthritis since August 2008. I’ve never been off of this classification of medication since I began it about eight years ago. I had to go off of it due to an infection last fall, and between my high risk for infection and need to have hand surgery I’ve not been able to take it (And I haven’t been able to have surgery due to edema, etc.)

The result is that every day gets worse. Literally. That’s not being pessimistic, it is just my reality right now. My rheumatologist has put me on a medication that people took for RA 60 years ago so I could feel like I was “doing something.” But it’s one of those medications that takes months to kick in, and it’s also raising my danger zone for my liver, so I don’t know how long I can keep taking it. Monthly lab tests will tell.

So I am on about 20 different medications from anti-inflammatories to pain killers, steroids to medications to try to help me sleep, control blood pressure, etc.

If that is the situation, what is my reaction?

Last week was a bad week physically–the worst it had been up until that point. I moaned about it a bit. I’m sick of it!

My Twitters and Facebook postings had people writing me back saying, “Praying for you.” “Hope you feel better soon.” I appreciated it.  I explained to my husband one night I didn’t think he realized just how bad each day had been and he listened patiently with sympathy.

flair-im-chosing-joyBut this week he has had to work 15-hour-days every day on a project that is due. We are so blessed that he has a job (and hence, my health insurance) that I can’t and won’t complain for a moment about that. But has it been harder being on my own each day, all day and evening with just me and Josh? Sure. I’ve gotten Josh to bed an hour earlier each night by 8:15 or so and I’ve quickly followed, asleep by 9 p.m.

I haven’t even wanted to post “updates” this week, because I’m even sick of hearing myself whine. But my knees haven’t been able to unbend for days. I walk hunched over and hold onto walls, furniture and cars. I’ve tried to not give into it and still make it a fun week for Josh. We’ve made cookies, played Play Doh, watched a movie, gone to McDonald’s, karate, and hav had 3 play dates. Tonight is the Variety Show at his school and we’re attending. I’ve pushed through and have made it.

So why do I feel a sting when people write kind comments to me that say, “I see you’re posting on the list so you must be feeling all better! I’m so glad!” or “Are you feeling better this week?”

I want to say “No! I am NOT feeling better! I won’t feel better! Every week is going to get worse until I am healed up from a surgery that isn’t even scheduled yet.”

Yes, I am posting to some lists. I am trying to work to keep my mind off of things and then other times I am too exhausted to think straight and I just walk away from the computer. But I feel awful.

I feel badly I’ve not answered people who have kindly asked if I am better? I don’t want to say, “No, and I won’t, thanks, for awhile.” I don’t feel like being cheerful and saying, “I am hanging in there.” I don’t know how to be honest.

When my friend called and asked how I was I said, “Uh… I’m doing okay.” She said, “Just okay?” and I said, “Well, I know I’m sick of saying I’m not doing great and you’re probably sick of hearing it, so I don’t know… Lately I’ve been stealing my friend Pam Farrell’s saying… ‘I’m choosing joy!'”

Something as simple as “how are you?” shouldn’t caused such mixed emotions, right? After 15 years of chronic illness, I should be past it causing any emotions at all. But even as I write emails to people who I know are chronically ill I hesitate as to what to say. Do I say, “I hope you are feeling better”? Or do I say, “Unless you let me know otherwise, I’ll assume you are still having a lot of pain”?

We have a 50% chance of getting it right. When we are right, the person in pain gets a moment of  “ahhh” –like getting into a hot tub. The sting of pain is taken away for just a few minutes. When we get it wrong, it’s a sting that is more like wading into the cold ocean waters.

What are your feelings? Experiences? While I am waiting I guess I will go update my Twitter. I’m still deciding to be honest (and boring) or “joyful” and upbeat.
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10 Comments»

  deni weber wrote @

The identification with this post, is for me, amazingly accurate. I struggle with how to respond to “You are up and moving so you must feel better!” and “How are you?” My ideal response is “Standing firm” – standing on God’s promises. Yes, sometimes that happens. Other days I say, “Oh, middle of the road” and silently add – and it feels like a car is coming straight at me!.

Thanks for bringing up this topic – some folks don’t want to broach it. It’s a very real one for those of us who struggle with challenges.

  Allison Rhodes wrote @

This post and the comments made me cry because I identify so much. I have a very painful, incurable neurological disease called spasmodic torticollis. Even if I’m not having an “attack” where my muscles try to twist my head around, I still have many bouts of severe pain.

My estranged husband, his family and his friends call me a drug addict. It hurts so much.


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