When you can’t read – Chronic Illness

It’s mid-summer and I find myself reading a book at my mum’s backyard. Sun caresses my skin while the wind makes the heat bearable. For most readers and writers this moment may seem ordinary but for me, it’s far from that. When I say “I find myself reading a book” it’s a complete truth.

It’s mid-summer and I’m not 100% sure what has happened during the last few months. My mind is full of short memories but they don’t fit in together. So many days have just disappeared forever. One thing is sure – reading has been impossible without feeling like dying afterward. Doing the one thing I love more than anything has been impossible.

That’s chronic illness for you.

Three years ago I lost my ability to do anything. For weeks I couldn’t even stand on my own. After that my life has been a hell that only I can feel. In theory, living is possible – if you can survive on your own without dying apparently it’s not a real problem. But at the same time for me, everything has been pure darkness.

Like reading.

I have always loved reading. At some point in my life, I read 7 books per week. It was my lifestyle. Books and reading were everything I wanted to do before my chronic illness took over. Of course, I was still able to read. But not like before.

If I decided to read it meant doing nothing else on that day. And when I started reading it would get harder after every page. One chapter. Then I had to stop. One chapter. Break. One chapter. Break. One chapter. What did I read last time? Can’t remember, go back. Is this really worth the pain and suffering?

My chronic illness took away the one thing I love most. Or well, in fact, two of those things. Writing – the other love of my life. For the last three years, I have been stuck with poems. Something short before the headache and fatigue take over. Imagine your life in 10-minute cycles. That has been me for the last 3 years – some months better some a lot worse.

But today I opened a book and read, read and read.

It’s giving me hope. Maybe this time I will truly get better? Maybe this time they have truly found out what’s causing this to happen? I’m hoping so much it’s hurting. Not only because living three years in hell at your early twenties feels such a waste. No, I’m hoping because this year my dreams are finally coming true and being chronically ill stands between me and the world I want to conquer.

I decide to read one more chapter. Just one more because today may be the last time I’m still able to do it. No one knows what happens tomorrow but I have hope. Hope that there are still thousands of books waiting for me to read them.

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”

Laini Taylor