In my Post Graduate studies at the University of Catastrophe I am learning about the interface between myasthenia gravis and diabetes. What one disease needs most exacerbates the other.
- The best thing for diabetes is exercise. Exercise helps move insulin into cells.
- The best thing for MG is rest. Muscle weakness increases with activity and improves with rest.
Do I get on a treadmill and walk to help my diabetes? Or should I hang out on the sofa to help my MG? Answering these two questions is not easy. The right answer changes every few hours. Trying to get the puzzle pieces to fit together will challenge me for the rest of my life.
All University of Catastrophe classes bring up deep questions and the answers don’t come easily. Sometimes they never come at all. Not all of life’s lessons make sense. Life as a University of Catastrophe student does not automatically bring deeper understanding. Unrelenting pain taught me the truth of this statement, “That which does not kill me may make me wish I was dead.” Suffering doesn't always make us stronger. It taught me where I am fragile as well as strong.
It is a myth that suffering is ennobling. The only thing I learned while waiting to be diagnosed with MG was the true meaning of the word weeping. I am not a better person because of MG and cancer and diabetes. These things have changed me profoundly. Who would I be without these problems? I will never know. I wish I could know.
It took a while to understand I will never graduate from The University of Catastrophe. It took even longer to accept it. Raging doesn’t make the situation better. Neither does putting on a happy face and smiling. Pollyanna’s Glad Game doesn’t help when low blood sugar makes me shake inside. It doesn’t help when MG flares.
What does help is remembering that everyone has a major at the University of Catastrophe. We are all born with a full scholarship. Some people discovered their majors the day they were born. Others found their majors as children or teens. I discovered mine as a young adult. Some find their majors when their child has special needs. Many more find them as they age. Everyone we meet are either currently enrolled, about to be enrolled, or an alumnus of The University of Catastrophe. The University of Catastrophe is where we learn life’s tougher lessons.
It is here we learn:
- How to get back up after a fall.
- How strong we are inside.
- How it feels to suffer.
- How to turn around and help another heal.
May the lessons we learn at the University of Catastrophe build our compassion toward one another. We are all in this together. Empathy: You Can Grow It is a Post Graduate Seminar I’m taking right now. It’s why I’m writing this blog. To help point you toward joy. Joy is all around us, even here at The University of Catastrophe.