Someone recently put up a rant on the Guillain-Barre Syndrome Facebook page. One of the things he said is that he always thinks, “Why me?”
Here’s my response:
“I’ve asked that. After several non-responses, I took that as an answer (or lack of schizophrenia) and saved my energy for rants and/or pity parties. (I throw some of the best.)
“Unfortunately, as you know, there’s no real reason to these things. You can think of it as a deity testing you, if you go in for that sort of thing, the universe smirking, if you’re as self-centered as I am to believe life stops to consider you (which, obviously, it does!) or you can put it down to bad genetics or luck. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong immune system.
“Frankly, none of it has ever made me feel better. Though it’s nice to be able to snarl at the universe, if that’s the route you take.
“In the end, one of the reasons this sort of thing is so awful is because there’s no significance as to who is struck. Some people get GBS, some get cancer, some remain annoyingly healthy. And none of us deserve it.
“Because life is an utter, sodding bitch, and it’s up to us to find or make meaning out of it. And to call it out on its BS, of course. Or GBS, as the case may be.”
Not bad for something typed an iPad, eh? Also, credit goes to Tim for the last line.
But seriously, this got me to thinking… Why do we think we don’t deserve this? Or rather, why do we think anyone does?
I mean, okay yes, I’d get some popcorn and watch Bill Cosby struggle in the ICU. And there are a few others I wouldn’t shed a tear for.
Most people, though, don’t deserve something as awful as Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Or chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, various cancers, porphyria, multiple sclerosis or any other chronic, debilitating conditions.
And if it’s not us, then it’s someone else. Maybe someone exactly like you, maybe someone nicer, maybe someone who used to tie fireworks to the neighborhood cats.
Probably one of the first two. Or maybe that third guy grew up, saw the error of his ways and now volunteers at an animal shelter.
No matter who it is, I’d be hard-pressed to find someone to point to and say, “You. You deserve to be unable to breathe on your own. To, at one point, have trouble even blinking. To be barely able to communicate and have to hope that people figure out you need something. To have to learn how to walk again. Then get released and lose your mind from PTSD.”
Although, I guess the helplessness and PTSD would be kind of fitting for Cosby. (Can you tell I’ve seen the cover of New York Magazine today?)
But seriously, illness seems to rarely hit bad people. You don’t hear about serial killers being diagnosed with MS. Instead it’s everyday people. It’s you or people you care about.
There’s no rhyme or reason to it, and with something this awful, that’s hard to swallow. There are a few ways to handle that:
- I imagine religion helps quite a bit. Although if I hear that thing about “only gives us what He knows you can handle” again, heads will roll.
- Understanding and accepting the basic entropic nature of the universe is probably the best way. Though if you manage that, you’re a better, saner person than I.
- Or you can choose to wail and gnash your teeth. We meet at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.
No matter what, you eventually realize that the only way to stay sane — or sane-ish, if it’s already too late for the alternative — is to accept that there’s really no sense of fair play in the universe.
No one is off limits. There’s no guarantee you’ll get what you deserve — or deserve what you get.
How do you guys handle the “Why me” or “Why [beloved person]” moments?