I promise this won't be a post full of math equations. (Although I've been watching the series Numb3rs on DVD and wishing some of my high school math teachers had let me know all the ultra cool ways you can use math!)
I recently visited a new rheumatologist, and while I did get some good information from her, I was struck more by the paperwork that I had to fill out prior to my appointment.
In particular, in a section titled Activities of Daily Living, there was one of those line drawings, with a scale of one (very poorly) to five (very well), asking me to circle a number that best described my situation: Most of the time, I function ...
My initial impulse was to circle #3: Okay.
Because really, five years into this chronic illness situation, my life has adjusted (i.e. shrunk) to the point that I do feel like I'm managing okay. I get by. I am able to do most of the things I need to do, even if I can't approach doing as much as I want to do.
After that question, there was a long list of activities, like bathing, obtaining restful sleep, working, engaging in leisure activities, that I had to check a box on whether my health problems made them difficult usually, sometimes or not at all.
After I went through that list, I had to re-think my response to the scale on how I function because it became clear to me that I had lost my sense of what normal really is for most people.
Everything is relative.
Compared to how bad things get when I'm very flared, I am functioning okay. Compared to how little I could do after my hospitalization back in July 2007, I'm functioning very well.
But when I stretch my memory back to what life was like before I got sick, when I compare my levels of functionality to what I see my friends and acquaintances managing to do, I'm somewhere between very poorly and poorly. Compared to how some of my friends in the chronic illness community, I'm functioning well.
So there you go -- Sick Momma's Theory of Relativity: At the same time, I'm doing both better than I used to do and worse than I used to do, all at the same time.
5 months ago