Tuesday, September 15, 2015

by Beth K. Vogt 

I’ve always thought of myself as a healthy person. These days, I think of myself as a “trying to get healthy” person. 

In the past year, there have been a few times when I’ve been talking and the words “chronically ill” or “chronic pain” have slipped past my lips. I’ve paused, wanting to correct myself. 

That can’t be me.

But I don’t correct myself. Like it or not – and I do not like it – I have battled illness and pain for the past five years. And, by definition, chronic illness or pain lasts three months or more. 

Okay, then. Who am I to argue with the National Institutes of Health (NIH)?

I’ve tried varied approaches to living 24/7 with this non-healthy version of me. 

• Don’t Talk About It - I mean, what’s the point? I don’t want to be one of those people who talks, talks, talks all the time about their illnesses. There is more to life than my struggle with back pain or my frozen shoulder. 

• Find the Humor in It – I had vertigo for several years, and thought of it as having my own personal roller coaster in my brain. I was diagnosed with a frozen shoulder almost a year ago and named my shoulder “Olaf,” because “some people are worth melting for.” Thank you, Disney. 

• Ignore It – This is similar to the whole “rub some dirt in it” approach to falling down and getting hurt or a coach’s “just walk it off” advice to an athlete. Why not ignore the way the room still tilts sometimes two years after my last “real” bout of vertigo. Ignore the sleepless nights. Ignore the back pain. Ignore the fact that a snarling, barking dog came running out into the street aiming right for me while I was on a walk, and that in my attempt to escape the little brute, I fell hard on my still-recovering frozen shoulder. Yeah, forget that. 

Despite this trio of coping mechanisms, what do you do when you become someone you don’t want to be? 

1. Some nights I crawl into bed and cry. I admit that I’m in pain. I admit I am beyond-tired of waking up in pain and going to bed in pain. Sometimes I cry loud enough for my husband to hear and sometimes I cry into my pillow. I just . . . let myself cry. 

2. I walk for several miles each day with a close friend. A lot of exercise becomes off limits when you have vertigo. Or back problems. Or a frozen shoulder. Or all three issues at the same time. But walking is always an option. Except when you fall, spread eagle, on your hair stylist’s floor and tear a ligament in your ankle. And yes, I did that too, but I got back to walking as soon as I could, because walking is good for me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Howard Books, 2015
3. I maintain as normal a life as possible. To do that, I had to drop my stubborn “I will never have back surgery” stance and accept that surgery was my last and only option for pain-free walking. I had to lower my expectations of what I could do, but still look for good things every day. I joined Instagram and every day I look for “a little bit of pretty” to photograph while I am on my walks.

4. I know God hasn’t lost sight of me. God knows what is happening in my life. All of it. It’s not like He’s turned his back on me for a minute and all of this has happened … and in a moment He’ll turn around and say, “Ooops! Sorry about that. I lost track of you for a minute there, Beth.” No. Sickness cannot separate me from God. And so, I trust Him in all this. I don’t ask Him why. I ask Him how I am to live my life today … and tomorrow … and the next day.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love is the first novel in my destination wedding series. There’s also a fun giveaway celebrating release of Autumn Brides, a trio of novellas by authors Katie Ganshert, Kathryne Springer, and me.

Beth K. Vogt
Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author who said she’d never write fiction, the wife of an Air Force physician who said she’d never marry anyone in the military and a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “never.” A 2015 RITA® Finalist and a 2015 and 2014 Carol Award finalist, her 2014 novel, Somebody Like You, was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. She lives in Colorado with her husband, Rob, and their youngest daughter. 

For more information about Beth, visit her website, become a fan on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


  1. Thank you for your honesty Beth. I recognize those coping mechanisms! Praying with you for pain free days ahead.

    1. Kelly:
      We all have our coping mechanisms. Prayer and humor -- and the support of friends -- help me the most. I'm happy to report the frozen shoulder is thawing.

  2. Thank you for your honesty Beth. I recognize those coping mechanisms! Praying with you for pain free days ahead.

  3. I'm sorry you are going through this. I don't deal with pain well but it sounds like you are finding a way. Will definitely add you to my prayer list. Again, thanks for being open.

    1. Terri: Thank you for your prayers. They do make a difference.


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