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What Has Chronic Illness Taught You? Here Are a Few Things I’ve Learned

Posted Jun 18 2010 9:38pm

I have learned to be content despite my circumstances. I've also learned it is easier to be content beside a palm tree than many places.

Duncan Cross of the Patients For a Moment Blog Carnival recently asked us to answer this question “What have you learned about yourself, your illness, and other sick people?”

Well… this could be not only an entire book, but a volume of books. So where does one start?

Rather than going deeper with this question I’m going to simply answer it off the top of my head and will see what I come up with.

  • I have learned that people often ask “Is it hereditary?” not out of ignorance but because there is some part of them that wishes to rule out the possibility that they could get the illness themselves.
  • I have learned that people who are ill are just like everyone else. We still have dreams, we still have moments when we are grumpy, and we still desire not necessarily the “Disneylands” in life –but the ability to enjoy the simple moments that “normal people” seem to have.
  • I have learned that people will disappoint us, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care. We need to offer grace and forgiveness and turn to God for our deepest emotional needs.
  • I have learned that it is not fair to the people around me that I will probably always be “worse off” than them. For example, if my husband has the flu, I likely have it too and I also have a chronic illness. If he is not sleeping, I am also not sleeping and my rheumatoid arthritis is likely flaring as well. It really is not fair, but it is what it is. I must make sure I don’t use this to always “one up” everyone.
  • I have learned that prednisone is an evil friend.
  • I have learned that the quickest way to draw attention to yourself is to park in handicapped parking place legally, but then to get out a stroller and your baby instead of a wheelchair.
  • I have learned that there are seasons in both our physical ailments and our emotional experiences in a chronic illness. Sometimes they match and sometimes they do not. Our health can have a great deal of impact on our emotional well-being, and other times we can feel God’s peace despite the absolute worst of circumstances.
  • I have learned that one of the greatest gifts one can give one’s self while living with chronic illness is the ability to laugh and smile when her friends laugh with her.
  • I have learned that one goes through the grief cycle over and over when living with a chronic illness. Just when one learns how to cope with losses or disabilities, new griefs occur and the cycle must be gone through again.
    I have learned that to ask for help is one of the hardest things to do; but to ask for help and then not receive it, is one of the most challenging times when we must learn to offer unconditional grace and not hold resentments.
  • I have learned that it is always wise to drop a few pills “accidentally” in your pill drawer so that when you run out on Friday night you can always dig up a couple if your prescription does not have refills.
  • I have learned that to live with chronic illness must certainly be easier at times then to have a spouse who lives with a chronic illness. I have great admiration and love for my husband who must see me suffer and be unable to control it.
  • I have learned that children can be kind and curious when you are using a wheelchair; it’s their parents you have to worry about. I almost caused a riot trying to get on a Disneyland shuttle because the driver told me to get on first.
  • I have learned that only I know exactly how many “spoons” (energy) I have at any given moment and when people say I am doing too much and should cut back it is often because I am not fulfilling the needs that they have.
  • I have learned to accept my limitations and allow myself the tools, such as Kindle and Touchscreen computer, in order to continue to follow my dreams.
    I have learned that regardless of the plans I may make, God is always in control and that it is up to me to accept the fact that I will do and accomplish only that which He desires– and everything else can fall by the wayside and I need to emotionally let go of it.
  • I have learned the most powerful was to be refreshed is to refresh or encourage someone else.
  • I have learned that a $5 powder bronzer on your face can go a long way toward helping you look sun-kissed and not sick.
  • I have learned that you can live in a state of feeling that God is good and God is in control and also being frustrated with how this life is turning out and longing for heaven.
  • I have learned that allowing your child to watch television or play video games for a little while while you rest on the couch will not cause lightening to strike or children services to show up at your doorstep.
  • I have learned that by having a visible disability (such as when I had my outrigger split during joint replacement recovery on my hand) can be an amazing opportunity to hear the stories of other people who are suffering, because they come up to you, a total stranger, and talk to you about their pain, because they believe you understand.
  • I have learned to walk out of public restrooms without washing my hands and not worry about what people think, because I am going to use hand sanitizer outside.
  • I have learned that computer voice programs have a mind of their own and that when I say something like “I will keep you in prayer” my computer sometimes types “Let’s go have a beer.” I’ve tried to learn to edit and proof, but I still miss too much!
  • I have learned that life is hard, but God is good. I re-learn this every day.

What have you learned?

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