Throw enough factors into one persons life and body and it can feel like a pinball flying around out-of-control. That ball is flying so fast one way, then the other, that it is hard to follow. To a chronically ill person with pain and trauma, their life and body can feel like it is being thrown through the obstacles with great annoyances of blinding light and defining sound coming from all angles. How odd can one person feel this out-of-control for so long? Make the ball STOP!

Have you ever thought about people who play pinball and their ability to understand where the ball is going? Is it because they have control of the movement that helps them understand the wild movement?

During the heat of the battle with chronic illness we sometimes lose control of the situation. I wonder if that is why it feels like an out-of-control pinball.

There are so many factors to juggle at one time that it makes my head spin. I have yet to find anyone who has been able to maintain clarity during every step of this type of journey. There are times when it not only feels like we are a pinball out-of-control but we have to accept that there will be moments when things actually are that wild.

Chronic illness and past/present trauma create a pinball haven. There are so many factors happening all at once that it literally feels like we are the pinball and there is no one to stop the game.

Abstract pinball background

The obstacles are too loud, they are too bright, they are too colorful. They are all just too much and the pinball just keeps banging around out-of-control. It is truly the most wild, unsettling feeling I have ever experienced. And it goes on for years, and years and years.

For me, it has taken 3 years of intensely treating the specific disease for me to be able to start getting a grip on this. It still feels like I am being flung around, hitting obstacles, blinded by light and defended by noise. But I am finally making my way to seeing where I am going.

Detail of Bumpers vintage pinball table Wizard in action

Instead of a thousand obstacles at one time, it now feels like I can tackle a few at a time to make some progress through the disease. I am moving towards health slowly, very very slowly. I still do not like the out-of-control feelings that I get occasionally. I have learned how to simply look at only the next two or three obstacles coming up instead of getting lost in all of them. I will take it and be glad.

Sometimes we have to get banged around for a while to get to the end of the game so we can unplug the insanity and chose a different game.

I have to remember how many decades I have had this disease and the destruction it has taken on my body and my life. It simply takes time and work to heal from it.

I will accept this disease and the lessons it has brought to my life. But I will not accept that I have to get stuck in this spot forever. I wish I knew the pinball lingo for “games up!!!” Time to move on.

How does chronic illness and trauma feel to you?

Maribeth Baxter, MBEC

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Donations are accepted to serve others on their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, MBEC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.


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