Chronic illness doesn't allow much room for rebellion. It takes people from all backgrounds and walks of life and forms them into a homogeneous group - patients.
The life of a patient with chronic illness is filled with constant reminders of illness: not just symptoms, but regular (and as required) medications, special diets and regular monitoring, both at home and in hospitals/clinics. There's not much wiggle room in this sort of lifestyle.
I have medications that are taken every 4, every 6, every 8, every 12 and every 72 hours. 21 different ones, in fact. Some of them have to be taken with food; others on an empty stomach. Some medications are fine when taken in combination with other medications; some have to be taken at least a couple of hours apart.
These medications, in addition to their desired effects on my tumbledown body, have so many side effects. I'm sure I'm not alone in having medications to treat the effects of other medications. Less serious considerations include drowsiness (Promethazine works beautifully for me, but knocks me out completely for approximately 12-15 hours), nausea, abdominal pain, dizziness and tachycardia. It's not always possible, but as far as I can, I try to take these medications when I don't need to drive, be alert (and/or awake), or alone. Just for fun, our stairs are entirely open on one side, so tackling the stairs is not something to be done when drowsy or dizzy!
I am supposed to monitor my weight, calorie and fluid intake, blood sugar, peak flow (a measure of how restricted my airways are), oxygen saturations, blood pressure, pulse and temperature every day. I also have a special (and very restrictive) diet that I have to follow.
I have braces for my shoulders (including slings), wrists, elbows, knees, ankles and feet. I have a selection of crutches, sticks and wheelchairs.
This is my reality. Every single day.
There are days when this feels far, far too much, and I get an overwhelming desire to escape from all of it - from the symptoms and from all the medications, the testing, and the medicalness of it all.
I owe my life to many of the medications that I take, and know that not taking these would win me at least a week or so in hospital. I don't want to take medications, but my desire to stay out of hospital is even greater. So I divide my medications into two categories: essential and optional. The latter category is mainly made up of painkillers and supplements. Missing a dose or two of these is bad, but not bad enough to land me up in hospital. So, when I'm feeling rebellious and as though I can't stand to take any more medication, I don't take these meds.
Yes, this causes pain, but I can convince myself that it's worth it just for that moment of freedom from medications. This is what normality feels like, right?