Struggling With the Unpredictability of Multi-Symptom Chronic Illness

From Martin Adams on Unsplash

One of the hardest things for me to accept about dealing with chronic illness is the unpredictability of a lot of my symptoms.

I have a handle on a few things that I can expect.

For example: if I decide to head out to grocery shop, clean my apartment, cook, and then go out with friends – I can expect to be hurting the next day.

The same goes for if I choose to eat something that I know is going to be highly disagreeable with my digestive system – as much as I love cobb salad, raw leafy greens are like razor blades in my intestines.

Other symptoms though? I can’t predict when or where they will strike, and I can’t predict what they will be.

This is especially challenging for me to accept as I am a creature who enjoys having the utmost control. I am the definition of a Capricorn woman, who desires nothing but power, control, and success.

Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Chronic illness has forced me to abandon my love of having control.

This morning I woke up, put on a pot of coffee and started making myself some French toast. I ate breakfast and began to clean up the kitchen immediately, and then moved to sorting laundry. My boyfriend, Tim, slept in late.

While I sorted laundry, Tim opened his eyes and started asking me a series of questions:

“How’s your head?”


“How’s your belly?”


“How’s your bladder?”

“Not too bad.”

“How’s everything else?”

“Everything else is okay, thanks for asking.”

I started a load of laundry in the washer, I bagged up trash and recyclables, and I sat down on the couch next to Tim while I waited for the laundry to be done.

One of my cats snuggled up to my chest and fell asleep. I felt tired too – but I hadn’t been awake long enough to warrant a nap.

Oscar Keys on Unsplash

As suddenly as a storm rolls over the sky, I began to feel dizzy and nauseous. These spells absolutely SUCK. Walking becomes difficult because I can’t keep a good balance, and as you can imagine, my entire disposition changes drastically from a lighthearted “get shit done on a Sunday” vibe to a “I can’t turn my head too fast for fear of collapsing into my own vomit” sort of vibe.

This sudden shift in wellness happens often, and it can happen while I’m at work, out to dinner, sleeping, or even driving (yikes).

The severity always varies, as well as the symptoms. Is it going to be body pain and weakness? Is it nausea? Vertigo? Stomach pain? Bladder pain? A combo of these things? Literally anything else?

This leads me to repeat the cry of so many people that have come before me in this struggle – just because I was fine one moment, doesn’t mean I will be fine the next.

This truth is deeply depressing, and causes anxiety to swell in my chest when I think of the reality of having to deal with some sort of flare when really I just want to get through the work day.

elevantarts on Unsplash

I am absolutely floored by the continuous understanding I get from Tim, my best friend Ami, and others that value having me in their lives. Tim and Ami both have an incredible ability to adjust to my ebbs and flows in a way I’m not sure I’d be able to do for someone else. They are compassionate, and willing to meet me where I need to be met, even when whatever torture I’m enduring causes me to be a rude asshole.

I am learning to adjust to the sudden switches in my wellbeing, and I am learning how to cope with them.

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