Illness: A lesson in appreciation

David Busch

I just brewed a cup of Echinacea tea in hopes of speeding the recovery. But as I sit here, watching the hot stream slowly drift out of the cup and dissipate into the air, I swallow, feeling that little ball at the bottom of my throat, reminding me that I’m sick. Each swallow is painful. Each swallow keeps me sitting here, waiting in vain as the sunlight sparkles through my window. I look over at my books with the receipt from the bookstore sitting on top laughing at how much I spent and how I must accept that even though I am sick, I must do my homework. I look over at my work schedule – time sold for the American dollar – and must accept that even though I’m sick, I still have to work. This is frustrating. This is stressful.

Life, however, must always have a broad perspective. My sickness, though frustrating and stressful, will pass. I lean back, hands folded behind my head.

I think about my aunt who struggles with Cerebral Palsy. Each step for her is a struggle, a test of concentration. For me, each step I take for granted, without thought and appreciation.

I think about my brother who struggles with a learning disability and a psychological disorder. Each task, whether putting together breakfast or putting on his pants correctly, is a struggle, a test of the human will. For me, the preparation of breakfast is not even a second thought. This ability is something, sadly, that I take for granted.

I think about all the individuals across America, this world, who struggle with a chronic physical or psychological disease. Somehow, through their pains and their racing thoughts, they get up each morning to complete their tasks and live their lives.

My aunt’s illness will not pass, Nor my brother’s, nor the thousands of others that struggle with a chronic disease every day. The stress and frustration caused by a chronic illness are inevitably a part of their lives – a reality that I can’t even imagine.

As the semester rolls on, with the shaking of hands and passing of papers, viruses will pass. Even the infamous swine flu may dance through our campus, playing into the deepest fears that the media has sold us. The headaches, the fevers and colds will question our determination to complete the essay due tomorrow morning. And, then, the frustration and stress will emerge.

A cough from the back of the throat sends me flying forward. My throat has a scratchy feeling to it that lingers until I take a sip of my tea. I find myself in a dilemma. I am sick so I complain. But, really, do I have that right to complain, especially when you think of those who face illness every day of their lives? Think about it.

I have learned to appreciate the healing power and all the functions of my body when I am sick, but will I still have that same appreciation when I return to my healthy self? This, then, is the lesson of illness: Appreciating the gift of a healthy, functioning body. I am still learning this lesson. Are you?

David Busch is a junior history and psychology major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].