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Posted on 7. January 2011

Time Most Valued

By Kris McFalls

Time is a unit of measurement that helps describe an action or event. Everyone has access to it. The rich can have no more of it than the poor. Inflation and recession have no influence on its value. Time cannot be saved, it can only be spent. Like a one-way street, time can only move forward. And no matter how long or short your time is on Earth, your legacy will be determined by the memories you created with it.

People with a chronic illness have a heightened awareness of the importance of time. Like stones in a swiftly flowing river, my family has been shaped and refined by the currents of chronic disease. Our challenges are woven into the very fabric of our being. But like many readers have so eloquently stated, we will not be defined by disease. Rather, our lives will be defined by how we used our time and what we did in spite of disease.

One event in my life affected how I spend my time even more than the challenges of chronic disease. Two days before Christmas in 2008, I was presented with the opportunity to talk with one of my brothers for the first time in nearly two years. I could have spent that time ripping him anew for his choices and the pain he caused himself and our family and, believe me, I wanted to. Instead, I felt prompted to simply tell him, “I love you no matter what.” Those were the last words I spoke to him. Three days later, he died of a drug overdose. I have never been more grateful for that moment in time that I had with him on the phone. Since that day, I evaluate every relationship, and I ask myself if I can live with the way I left things.

Chronic diseases are challenging at best. Many of us have read the stories about people diagnosed with the same disease as us who have a miraculous recovery, and we rightfully want the same thing. Those people go on to run marathons, climb mountains and travel the world. It’s not wrong to want the same thing, but the reality is many of us won’t have the same level of recovery. And to be fair, many of us didn’t climb mountains before disease hit anyway! The real issue has nothing to do with marathons, climbing or travel; it is that we don’t want to be limited by our disease.

There is an old story that talks about planning a trip to Italy. You plan for it, dream of it and save for it. Once you’re finally on the plane, however, it lands in Holland. You know nothing about Holland and don’t want to be in Holland. However, if you spend all the time in disgust and lamenting the fact that you are not in Italy, you cannot appreciate the beauty of Holland.

I did not plan for my kids to be born with a primary immune disease. I planned a healthy and happy life. I saved for vacations, not medications. While it is important to grieve over what is lost, it is far more important to appreciate what we still have; my brother’s death taught me that. I grieved for my children’s suffering. I grieved for my brother. But then I learned to appreciate  the goodness of what I still have. Immune globulin gives me what I cannot have with my brother: more time, especially with my kids. I hope that the legacy I have passed on to my kids is not one in which disease will be remembered, but one in which the time I have spent with them will be most valued.

What kind of legacy will you leave? How will you choose to spend your time?

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Comments (5) -

Megan
8:46 AM on Friday, January 07, 2011

Kris, Thanks for sharing these insightful thoughts. So glad you followed the prompting to tell your brother you love him. What a great reminder for us all.Megan

Penny
11:01 AM on Friday, January 07, 2011

Well done Kris.  I can still remember the wonderment in Keith's voice and face, when he said "she said she loves me".  Thank you for sharing your heart with your readers.  Love you, Mom

tallegro
11:04 AM on Friday, January 07, 2011

Thank you Kris for sharing.

This New years day was the first time in seven years that I didn't spend the day before and the day after and the day of in complete sadness. Seven years ago my mother passed away on New Years Day after a long illness. I was fortunate enough to have given birth just two months before she died. I was able to share my youngest child with her before she left this earth and celebrate the holidays with her. We celebrated our Happy New Year, said we loved each other and then we all went to bed.

After my Mom died my entire family took to never getting off the phone without saying I love you. It sounds simple, but we just weren't the touchy feely type of family. Now we hug everytime we see each other and we hug when we leave. My kids know that they give hugs to everyone and say I love you before we head out. To me that is the legacy my Mom left behind. In so many ways she taught us to love better.

JMS
6:48 PM on Friday, January 07, 2011

What a wonderful story you wrote Kris, thank you. Happy New Year Everyone!

Time is an item we cannot buy, it cannot be controlled, it cannot be bought, it just happens as you point out Kris. I think if we are honest, each one of us has spent time in all the areas of emotions in different times of our lives--some of those times happy about our response and others wishing we could do a do-over! I for one am trying to have more "time" spent in the happy response area! However, it always comes down to "my" choice darn it! Even when my teen age son does not want to do his IgG (weekly occurrence) I have to try to choose to stay in the happy zone and let him do his learning like we all have over the years about time. Unfortunately he has an immune deficiency thrown on top of his “time” learning pile. In his wondrous state of adolescence he is not so eager to learn from his mom and listen to my "time" words of wisdom. So for now it is I who is gaining practice of staying in the happy zone each week during the IgG treatments and he chooses most often to have his time grumble!!

  

Gail
5:46 AM on Saturday, January 08, 2011

Another insightful and beautifully written piece! Happy New Year to All!

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