Chronic Illness Is Like Being An Inmate

Disclaimer: I have never actually been an inmate at a correctional facility. I did spend a number of weekends at one as part of a bible-school prison ministry.

Warning: post includes a picture of me in my underwear, don’t click the ‘continue reading’ button if you don’t want to see that.

There is one area where the inmate has an advantage over the chronic sufferer; he knows the length of his sentence. In the last nine months I have been bound captive by a complete lack of energy and a need to use the toilet up to 20+ times a day. And I have no certainty, no promise, of this state ending (except through death). I am confined to precious square meters not by threat of violence, but by my health. I don’t want to go any where and I don’t want to play games, watch movies, or really even sit and chat because of the need to urgently abandon any endeavor frequently. This illness sometimes feels like an interminable solitary confinement.

Also like the inmate, I’ve experienced a certain erosion of personal dignity. Below are two photos of me. In my case, the complete lack of energy for personal care (haircuts, showers, fingernails, etc.), having a complete lack of clothes that fit (well, fortunately my sock size didn’t change), and not being able to contribute anything to society have made it super hard to value myself as a human being. Who am I?

February 2020, weight 82kg/181lbs.
March 2021, weight: 55kg/121lbs.

When seeing the ‘fat’ photo my dad kept point out my belly. I had no desire to lose weight then, and right now I would give anything to have that belly back (and my dad).

This time has been challenging, this has been a time of tough learning, and honestly, I still don’t feel like much growth or change in me has happened.

None-the-less a thought that encourages me at this time is that as the unborn can make no contribution other than being are human and alive, and yet I firmly believe they have value. Can I give myself the grace and merit that I would gladly ascribe to any unborn child? Because that is how my heavenly father sees me. I have personal dignity in His eyes.

By Jaime

Happily married and proud father, most often found in Málaga, Spain.