"Some women are lost in the fire. Some women are built from it."
—Michelle K.
The Fire Within Blog
Now Is All We Have

I’m troubled, but not surprised, to learn that health researchers don’t give me a great shot at surviving the next five years. To add insult to injury, they pegged my “health age” as 79.

Last night when John came home from the gym, he told me he’d taken an on-line risk calculator to discover his chances of surviving the next five years. He glowed over his 99% chance of survival. Also, the results of the questionnaire shared that he had a health age of 44. Not bad, as we’re both  a decade older!

John asked me to take this well-regarded and researched test as he wondered if it would accurately reflect my three+ decades of illness and disability. Per the results above, it was dead-on… no pun intended.

“But you look so good” is something I and most every woman in pain hear on a regular basis. It’s a compliment, but if you’re like me, you can’t celebrate that good vibe – because looks can be oh so deceiving.

Despite the fact I eat a plant-based diet, exercise vigorously six days a week, meditate regularly, work a purpose-driven career, have a super-duper partner and follow my creative passions, I know I’m not well. I always know that. Deep down, I feel my body attacking itself – the nature of auto-immune disease(s).

For the past couple of years, I’ve told John more than a few times that if we want to do something, we should do it soon in case I don’t have many years left. I feel the toll of ever-present pain, fatigue and depression. Also the loss of cognition as I continuously grasp for words as a spokesperson. I’m great at hiding it, but as most of you are aware, studies show significant brain shrinkage for those with long-term chronic pain. Drats!

According to the calculator researchers, I’m just three years younger than my mother. And I’m aging far more quickly. She was wise to teach me that life isn’t fair…

But as my beloved editor (whose wife turns 90 today!) Dick would say, “Hey, darlin’, it is what it is.”

Despite my illness and my odds, I choose to take on each day with a bootie-kicking desire to win. I maintain high goals and never make excuses not to accomplish them. I work and play with integrity and always, always go up against the bad guys. I believe in justice and the right of every person (and animal!) to have a rich, fulfilling life.

For the rest of my days, whether that be a week or 30 years, I’ll fight the good fight for women in pain and for all those who dedicate themselves to the greater good. That fills my heart with joy and life-force.

You know, that damn calculator brought me down. And perhaps that inner voice needs to put a cork in it!

Now is all we have and all that’s real. Let’s make every now count… and the future will work itself out.

XO Cynthia