Finding Patience in the Misery
Last updated: November 2022
Good for the future, annoying for the present.
This is the motto I have been repeating in my head as I go through another bout of terrible eye irritation. The good news is that my left eyelid is continuing to drop back into place. The bad news is that with the changes in my eyes comes pain and difficulties at the most random times.
The misery of TED flares
I will be driving down the street, stopped at a light, and everything is fine. By the next light, I am squinting to see due to my left eye being filled with water because it was triggered once again by the sunlight. At work, I will be talking with a customer and I cannot look into their eyes because focusing on anything specific causes pain.
I am easily frustrated and annoyed. I feel helpless by the incapability to control when my eyes will fill up with tears. I text a photo to my mom of my watery red eyes. I wrote to her, “my eyes are revolting against me.”
Meeting misery with patience
The knowledge that these fleeting moments of unbearable uncomfortableness will not last forever is the only thing that gets me through it. These are minutes/hours of my time instead of the days/months I spent in desperation with my irritated eyes at the beginning of my thyroid eye disease (TED) journey. I have come further than I think I have.
I rarely give myself credit for getting through the moments I have no control over. I am too busy trying to survive it to see how strong these moments make me. It is only in writing about the hardships in retrospect that I am reminded of where my resilient nature stems from.
Understanding patience and control
Writing about this painful time as it is happening is hard. I have always tried to push the uncomfortable feelings away, numb them by focusing on hobbies and distractions that have nothing to do with the present.
I get through it. A few days later, the pain lessens, then disappears, out of my conscious worries entirely. The light dims once more. It is no longer painful to drive or walk in a store. I can breathe without hesitancy about what could happen if I am not careful. I have no control over my TED but when it flares up, I am left walking through my days on eggshells for longer than I need to.
The time with irritated eyes becomes shorter and shorter. The longer I have this disease, the less time I spend suffering. My body is trying to find its new relationship with my eyes, my mind is coming to terms with the fact that they will never be the same. They will never look the same or feel the same.
I will eventually come to a place in my life where TED no longer lingers in the background. But these times will forever remain with me. I have gained a newfound understanding of patience and control. There will be moments where I cannot control what is happening in my life. I can only control how I react. Meeting misery with patience is the best gift I can give myself when going through difficult times.
Has TED affected your ability to do your job?