In the aftermath of a storm, it is difficult to survey the loss and identify the resources available to cope with the damage without an appreciation of the lives and terrain that existed prior to the storm’s arrival. Life with illness bears some resemblance to what was there before, but so much may have changed.
“I don’t feel like myself,” or, “I feel like my life is coming apart,” those of us with illness may say. Among other things, we are speaking of the feared replacement of our familiar thoughts, feelings, sensations, projects, memories, and plans of our former everyday world. What was substantial now seems set upon shifting sands. For the storm is not over.
Illness assaults the world of our everyday life, a world we inhabit without much conscious thought. The largely unexamined presumptions of what our world “is” and how it “works” enable us to get on with our business. Its features, knit together into a routine way of taking action and making meaning, make up much of the fabric of our lives.
If we were to look at our everyday world too closely, its smooth operation would probably fall apart. It is through this world that we initially experiences illness, and it is the coherence of this world that illness most directly threatens.