Seeing Light in the Dark

I was lying on the examination table — sick, shivering, annoyed and checking my watch.  Idle chit chat was the last thing in which I wanted to engage, after recently spending the night in the emergency room with chest pain and shortness of breath.

But, of course, the echocardiogram tech wanted to talk.

I did my best to smile and respond to her inquiries about my illnesses and symptoms.  As the echocardiogram went on for what Seeing Light in the Darkseemed like an eternity, the tone of our conversation took a different turn.

I was still staring at the ceiling counting the minutes as I shared with her that I’d developed scleroderma as a young teen and now have lupus.  She then quietly began to tell me the story of her niece who is 33 and living with diabetes.  She shared the desperate situation her niece is facing.  Her niece is so depressed that she isn’t leaving the house.  She doesn’t see her friends.  She doesn’t enjoy her favorite activities.  She has given up on her future.

“Sometimes, in the pit of despair and depression, all you need to do is find one thing to live for,” I said.  “Just one thing. And tomorrow, you find one thing more.  And the next day, you do it again.  And that’s how you move forward when it’s impossible.”

I nodded my head in understanding — God knows, I’ve been depressed and my friends have struggled to understand why I’ve isolated myself at times.  She then went on to describe her niece’s physical condition:  she is currently relying on a feeding tube to deliver nutrition because of complications from gastroparesis.  “Oh my God,” I exclaimed.  I suffer from gastroparesis, which is a disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents.  But I still happily consume foods through my mouth.

She continued to share that her niece’s mother is significantly disabled, so much of the care falls on her shoulders and she was so confounded by her niece’s depression.  If only she could get her to see a glimmer of hope.  Without thinking about whether it was appropriate or not, I responded.

“Sometimes, in the pit of despair and depression, all you need to do is find one thing to live for,” I said.  “Just one thing. And tomorrow, you find one thing more.  And the next day, you do it again.  And that’s how you move forward when it’s impossible.”

And, with that, my echocardiogram was complete and the echocardiogram tech left the room.  Somewhere along the way I lost track of my own frustration and stopped counting the minutes.

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