I recently spent a quiet Saturday night in catching up with a friend on Skype who was complaining about how expensive having a social life was in London. I half jokingly said "at least that's not a problem I have to contend with living with my parents in Dorset" (where a rare sheep breed is more common a sighting than a young person!)
"Silver linings!" She said!
You either have to laugh or cry, and I chose the former.
When I lost a job on health grounds over a year ago, I knew that there would be a silver lining somewhere, and I made it my mission to go and hunt it out, to make it as thick and silvery as possible. It took a while, but I found it!
Suffice to say, I believe in silver linings, just like Pat in Matthew Quick's The Silver Linings Playbook (the #spooniebookclub read this month). As a book, it was everything I needed it to be: escapism, a quick and easy read, thought-provoking and heart-warming.
A someone embarking on a physio programme and with a body that feels like it has run a marathon when its just strolled to the post box, I found this particular line very reassuring:
"it hurts to look at the clouds but it also helps, like most things that cause pain"
With pain as one of my symptoms, it is helpful to redefine pain sometimes. Especially as I am trying to exercise, where some pain is normal!
But the biggest impression the book left me with was the impact of illness on parents. I have never really talked about it much, although I am aware that my situation has caused significant stress, worry and changed my parents lifestyle. Reading Silver Linings Playbook, and the anguish of Pat's mother, the effort she goes to support him and the drain he causes her as well as the whole family really caught me. It was not so much a surprise - I was aware of the impact in my own family - but it really brought it home.
This was amplified recently when I was discussing chasing the hospital for the tests and letter from my last appointment. I was reluctant to push for anything more, because I find appointments so stressful (as already discussed on this blog!) and because deep down I kind of know there is little else they can do . . . But having information and appointments to feed their unquenchable thirst for facts and clues is how my parents manage their helplessness. They can't "fix me" in the way they could when I was 4 and grazed my knee. Sometimes, wrapped up in all my symptoms and emotional anguish, I forget their own rollercoasters.
But to keep on the theme of silver linings, I know this whole experience has made me much closer to my parents - out of necessity partly, but the silver lining is that some of it is now out of true friendship.
If you live with chronic illness, and don't believe in silver linings, what else is there to believe in?