The Superpowers We (Unintentionally) Gain from Chronic Illness
Just for fun, I thought I’d write about the “superpowers” we (unintentionally) gain when we develop chronic health conditions.
My massage therapist and I joke that I fight crime in my sleep. It’s a much more fun explanation for why my muscles freak out (the real reason: fibromyalgia). We joke that this is also why I have brain fog—I’m so deep undercover that even I don’t know I’m a secret super hero, so I must be getting my memory wiped every morning. Sounds legit.
This got me thinking that, hey, those of us in the spoonie community really do have our own set of superpowers. No radioactive spiders are required! (Thankfully, because I hate spiders … and as for radioactive—been there, done that!)
I hope you enjoy these tongue-in-cheek examples of our superpowers, because in all seriousness, to get through each day with chronic illness and chronic pain makes us all fighters.
Your Superpowers Might Include:
- Chair radar—If you’re like me, you can spot a chair like nobody’s business. When you feel like you’re going to pass out multiple times, every day, you develop a keen sense for places you can sit. I’m always on the lookout for somewhere I can crash.
- Confusing doctors—We baffle even the brightest minds in the medical field. I stump my doctors frequently, getting flummoxed stares, and responses such as “You’re a bit of a puzzle,” “You are a complicated woman,” or “That doesn’t make sense.” Ummm…thank you? If only we could turn this superpower off!
- Confusing myself—This superpower doesn’t end with confusing others. No, with brain fog, we baffle even ourselves. Wait, what was I writing about?
- Masters of disguise—We are skilled at making ourselves look presentable even when we feel terrible. Thank goodness for makeup!
- Knowing weird words—Kids in spelling bees have nothing on us! Dysautonomia? I spell it all the time. Adrenal hypothalamic axis? Can totally define it. I can even pronounce the names of many medications, and we all know how hard that is!
Some Powers Really ARE Super:
I hope the silly superpowers made you laugh. Now lets switch gears and focus on powers that really can make a difference.
- X-ray vision to see others’ pain—When we deal with illness and pain, we become adept at seeing the signs in others. Invisible illnesses aren’t really invisible. We pick up on little things people do when they’re in pain. We notice the telltale signs of fatigue. We hear when someone is having a little trouble finding words. Letting people know they are seen is a real superpower.
- Super-charged empathy—We know what it’s like to struggle. People in the chronic illness community are among the most understanding people you will ever meet. I’ve benefited more often than I can count when others have exhibited this super power. If we let it, chronic illness and chronic pain can help shape us into people who are increasingly compassionate.
A final thought: If you read this and think, I don’t feel very super-powered today, that’s totally understandable, and also totally fine. We all get knocked down from the fight. We all have our kryptonite. If you’re in an especially rough season, know that that doesn’t make you any less super.
What superpowers am I forgetting? Comment below!
I’m off to sleep … I mean, fight crime.