Monday, July 13, 2015

Re-mind-ers (of Progress)

At first glance, "reminders" and "progress" may seem like linguistic opposites. One means "perceiving" something "again." The other means "moving towards a higher goal." But as I'm typing, trying to ignore the ache haunting my neck for the last week, I can't help but connect the two.

It's hard to believe it's been two years since I was diagnosed with celiac disease. And nearly nine years since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. And over a year since I was hospitalized for celiac complications like malnutrition and extremely low weight. 

casey the college celiac
Side by side comparison...
Now, I wouldn't apply for the job of Super Woman, but it is amazing how far I've come since those additions to my medical chart. I've learned how to cook safe (and purty darn delicious) meals - even well enough to convince family friends that I'm a professional chef. I've survived (and thrived during) my first Mud Run 5k. And I'll be sprinting into my Junior year of college next month. 

But, today, all I can feel is the heavy weight of reminders lying on my aching shoulders. Sometimes, like hinted at in my last post, I forget I have celiac disease. I forget I have fibromyalgia because my gluten free diet has improved my pain so much. I forget I'm not normal

casey the college celiac
Well, as normal as Casey usually is...
Until spending two wonderful weeks in unfamiliar beds, holding strange poses in airplanes, and not following my usual exercise routine has resulted in a muscle strain and migraine that has been keeping me up at night and glued to a heat pack during the day. 

And reminds me that, unlike the majority of the human population, my muscles are often tightened to the point of pain. 

That trying something new - spin class, wink wink - may result in more than just aching legs. 

That, no matter how good I feel at the time, my body is home to two autoimmune diseases that can pop up their heads after months of sleep. 

casey the college celiac
Rockin' the heat pack and beaver PJ's!
And, honestly, it sucks sometimes. I hate hurting. I hate realizing that no matter how hard I train my body and how fit I become, I have limits that the average person may not. 

At the same time, though, it also reminds me of the progress I've made. 

It reminds me that I used to hurt like this every day. When I was 11 and fell hard on my wrist, I didn't go to the ER until the next day. An X-ray of several fractured and dislocated bones later, doctors were shocked that I wasn't screaming in pain. I shrugged, saying it was no worse than I felt on bad days

casey the college celiac
Throwback!
It reminds me that I used to be unable to exercise without fighting extreme soreness the next day, causing every soccer game to be treated with an Epsom salt soak. 

It reminds me how being diagnosed with celiac disease and embarking on a gluten free diet was a blessing in disguise - a blessing that transformed how my stomach and the rest of my body felt. 

Linguistically, "reminders" and "progress" are opposites, one stuck in the past while the other barrels towards the future. The secret of their complementary connection, though, rests in the simple suffix "-ers," used to transform a verb to a noun. 

casey the college celiac
Any evening reminder, actually!
Because, the fact is, the act of being reminded hurts. In my case, physically and mentally. But the reminders of progress don't. They stand, unchanging, as signs of the milestones we've limped past. They are the (linguistic and mental) things that serve to prove how far we've come. How much we've learned. 

And how thankful to be of that progress every day - whether we feel it at the moment or not. 


*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link love!*

What reminders have you encountered with medical issues or other struggles? Do you stay thankful even on bad days? Comment below! 

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