It’s marvelous what you can see when you really open your eyes. Nearly 40 years of suffering with a life-threatening illness has taught me that life is too precious to miss anything.
As much as I despise my daily battle with cystic fibrosis (CF)* and diabetes, it has given me a perspective on life that many people will perhaps never attain or will only arrive at later in life. This rich appreciation of what life has to offer has made me the person I am today.
Each difficult moment surviving this unforgiving illness – and there have been many – has opened my eyes and opened my heart. This ‘awakening of my soul’ has made me more sentimental as I want as much of my life as possible to be punctuated by worthwhile memories rather than mundane events.
“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts” Albert Einstein
I do live for each moment, wanting to make my life count as every day feels special –I’ll wear the new shirt rather than waiting for that ‘rainy day’; I’ll spend quality time playing rough and tumble with my son Felix and I’ll mention our wedding anniversary date every month to my wife Katie.
Living with a chronic condition has opened my eyes to the important things in life that really matter and my level of appreciation for the simpler moments has been enriched. Life is too short to worry for long about minor issues. I have discovered my own version of GRACE – Give readily and cherish everything!
It’s not always easy but I work hard to identify my blessings in life and be thankful for them. I focus on what I can do rather on what CF stops me from doing and on what I do have rather than what I don’t.
My pain and struggle has enhanced my own humility and allows me to see and appreciate others who also suffer mentally and physically.
When I’m having a dark CF moment, I often see someone out and about who is more disadvantaged or disabled than me and I’m almost frozen to the spot and humbled – this keeps my feet on the ground, helping me to rationalise my plight and see how my worries fit in with the bigger scheme of life.
I find tranquility by looking around at beautiful surroundings where ever I am which helps to calm my soul.
‘He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.’ Psalm 23
I find amazing peace in the beauty of nature – rainbows, blood red sunsets, rays of light breaking through clouds, waves crashing against the shore, the roughness of the sea on a winter’s day – these spectacular moments freeze frame my life, allowing me to wonder and stand rapt in awe. I don’t take for granted all the little things that I see around me that I want to remember for the short time I have.
As grim as my illness has been, I do feel blessed and while I’m still on this earth, there’s so much to see and feel that there’s no time to have my blinkers on and block things out. People can go a whole lifetime and not know what I know, see what I see and feel what I feel…
READ ALL ABOUT IT – For those that missed it last week, my story and blog featured in the Guardian G2 Health section on 15 February. Click here to view the article…
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Look out for my next post as I reach my 40 year milestone…
* Cystic Fibrosis is one of the UK’s most common life threatening inherited diseases, affecting over 8,500 people. The condition affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food. Each week, five babies are born with the condition, however, each week, three young lives are also lost to it. There is currently no cure for CF. However, existing gene therapy trials in the UK are bringing people with the illness closer to a form of cure but CF is not that well known and would benefit from more public donations.
For more information and to find out more view the CF Trust Website