Being Envious of the Healthy
Everyone experiences jealousy or envy at some point in their lives. It may have been during childhood, envious of a playmate with better toys. Along comes high school, clothes, sports, dating, and the "cool" kids. Then work as we become adults and possibly envy a colleague's promotion or lifestyles that seem more fulfilling.
Most of us find the emotion distasteful nor do we want to acknowledge it. With social media, envy has taken on a life of its own.
The healthy years
I have always led a busy life. Work was always more than forty hours, particularly when I was self-employed. I had a home to take care of, and my husband and I had a child to raise and all the activities that come with that. I had an active social life and pursued several hobbies.
Life eventually catches up with us. Age starts to slow us and the COPD symptoms I had been ignoring for a few years reared their ugly head, sending me to the hospital for a couple of months. This would change my life forever.
The journey forward
Having COPD takes its toll on you not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. We hear it all the time, "when you can't breathe, nothing else matters."
In a couple of weeks, it will be seven years since I smoked my last cigarette. It will also be seven years since a two-month hospital stay that changed my life drastically. I have learned a great deal during this time, about COPD and about myself. I discovered I can be very envious of healthy people. My husband comes and goes like I used to. He can grab his keys and be out the door.
I have a tote bag that comes with me. It carries my travel oxygen tank, rescue inhaler, oximeter, lozenges in case of a coughing fit, tissues, cellphone, and wallet. That is the bare minimum and changes for each outing. Then there is preparing myself mentally to go out. It comes with anxiety, worrying about getting short of breath.
I am very grateful
My family is great about including me in outings, but not all of the activities. I will see pictures on Facebook of different events, a dinner out, or a celebration of some kind. At first, I am hurt when I see them for being left out. Of course, when I stop and think about it, it's laughable because not only would I have not gone now because of COPD, I wouldn't have before. My family includes me in the important events and are very accomodating, for which I am very grateful.
Ease and spontaneity
When I go to places I always enjoyed but can't participate, the envy can be out in full force. A walk on the beach is no longer part of my life, but I can still enjoy seeing the water, smelling the salt air, and hearing the waves. Festivals, farmers' markets, walking through Boston, or the seaside towns here in Massachusetts are just some of the things I can still find ways to enjoy, but still envious of the ease with which a healthier person can.
Ease and spontaneity. That is what I am most envious of that I may never have back in my life. I can still do many of the activities I used to, but always with planning, always with some anxiety attached to it.
How many of you feel the same? Have you found ways to combat being envious of healthier people?
Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.
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