A Beautiful And Unexpected Conversation About Health Challenges
"Katerina, are you going to the park with us?"
Looking at the excitement coming from my new friends, I could tell they wanted me to join them. They didn't know how much I struggled to walk. Let alone at a park with uneven ground. Or that I would end up severely fatigued. But, I decided that the pain would be worth it as I am working on trying new things.
Some of the girls and I walked together slowly in a quiet neighborhood and through a beautiful pathway to the park. The weather was in the 70s, perfect for an evening outside. Also, I should have mentioned that this group of friends were Korean students from my college. We talked about our life experiences and our childhoods. Of course, there are differences in culture and language, but it only made me enjoy our time together more.
Also, I am mentoring some of these girls this semester, and that has blessed me. Most weeks, we have enjoyed Tuesday mornings together at an outdoor picnic table. There have been moments of encouragement, laughter, and pure joy. And I have realized that during our time together, I'm not focusing as much on my chronic pain.
While some of these students know about my physical limitations, they are unaware of to what degree my pain levels are really like. When explaining, I usually mentioned something like, "I struggle with chronic pain" or "On the harder days, I use a wheelchair." With the language barriers, I'm not always sure how much they understand. But, that's okay because they have brought so much joy these last few months.
As we headed back to the house for dinner, I was surprised by what one of the girls said to me. She mentioned she felt a little dizzy. I quickly asked questions to ensure no other symptoms and held my arm out for support. She assured me that this was normal for her. We later had a more in-depth conversation about health challenges. I learned that my friend also struggles with some pain and fatigue. No one would ever guess as she enjoys going out and being around people.
That evening has reminded me of how God is using my experiences of health challenges to be able to have these conversations. I could relate to this girl like friends from Diamonds or other chronic illness communities I'm part of. And because of the decision to go to the park, this conversation happened. I will never forget the beautiful and unexpected conversation at a park.