ME: The Never Ending Boxing Match
One of my favorite sports, believe it or not, is boxing. I love to watch boxing matches and have for as long as I can remember. It’s not really about the brutality for me, but it is more about the art.
A boxer has to hone his craft in order to become a great boxer. He has to build stamina, learn how to throw a combination of punches, and predict his opponent’s moves; all the while preparing his own counter-moves.
Perhaps what I love most about boxing, however, is what sets one boxer apart from another: a steel-like inner strength and determination.
As spectators of the sport, we understand that a boxer would never enter the ring thinking he was going to lose. He always enters the ring determined to win. Never does a boxer box from an ideology of loss. He always comes from a position of strength – to win.
Boxing is a great analogy to segue into one of the most challenging aspects of ME/CFS – the emotional and physical toll of this devastating illness on the patient that occurs from repeated crashes. In many ways, ME/CFS is a never-ending boxing match for approximately 17 million people worldwide.
Imagine being in a boxing ring, fighting for your life. You jab your opponent and he jabs you back. Then you slam him with a powerful punch to his jaw only to have him surprise you with a right cross. You dance yourself into a better position and throw your best punch connecting above his eye, as you watch it swell shut. Without warning, however, your opponent comes back at you with a counter punch and lands you flat on your backside.
But you’re determined, so you get back up. You keep on fighting. You keep throwing punches and you keep giving it everything you’ve got. Then out of the blue, your opponent surprises you with a combination punch, and again, you find yourself lying on your backside.
Imagine doing that for the rest of your life and never having any prospect of winning.
As an ME/CFS sufferer, eventually those unrelenting punches will change your expectations, your dreams, and your hopes. They will even change your health. You go from being someone who is functioning at 80%; to someone who is now functioning at 60%; to all of sudden discovering you are now functioning at 20-40%.
Or, you go from someone who can venture outside to someone who is now in a wheelchair, house-bound, or even bed-bound.
This illness never stops hitting you. It never stops throwing punches. It never stops knocking you flat on your backside. It never lets up.
For so many years, I have heard researchers, psychiatrists, and those who choose not to believe that those of us who suffer with ME/CFS, say that we are lazy, or are making ourselves sick because we are talking ourselves into being sick.
Well, no one would go into a boxing ring and fight thinking they were never going to win. You don’t go into a fight thinking you’re going to lose – you go into a fight thinking you’re going to win. And you keep fighting until you do.
That is what I see, day after day, week after week, talking to people with ME/CFS. Some of them have had ME/CFS for 6 months, some for a year, some 10 years, some 20 years, and even some … 30 years! Some of these incredible people are now house-bound, wheel-chair dependent, and bed-bound.
Many ME/CFS sufferers, while able to work part-time or leave their homes periodically, do so with severe consequences physically with repeated crashes (punches) in the after math of the event.
In other situations, they are required to do a lot of planning ahead; resting and pacing days and weeks before, in order to accomplish even the simples of events.
Every one of these courageous individuals is in a boxing ring and they’re fighting every single moment of every single day. While the illness continues to throw punches and knock them to the ground, they get back up and fight some more. No matter how many times this illness knocks them to the ground; they find an inner-strength from deep within, pick themselves up, and fight again … and again … and again.
That is not laziness. That is not depression. That is not a mental illness or a case of talking themselves into being sick with ME/CFS.
People with depression don’t fight back, day after day, year after year. They don’t get up over and over and over. Only people who have a tenacious, determined outlook in life, who believe, who have hope, who have vision, and who have dreams do that!
The next time you hear about someone being ill with ME/CFS, remember that they are in the fight for their lives in this never-ending boxing match, and yet, they continue to hope, to fight, and to hang on, believing that a causal link will be found and they will one day be able to finally stop fighting.
Note: “Dominique’s Corner, Dominique’s monthly column printed in Life Skill Magazine, is cross-posted here with permission of LSM. If you would like to receive a free copy of Life Skill Magazine, you can sign up here. Or you can check out Discovering Purposed, a blog about creating a purpose driven life, by going here.
Determined to continue forward,