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’13 Tips From 13 Years Sick’

Print Version June 21st, 2014

a pile of pills


Toni Bernhard over at Turning Straw into Gold has some good advice on living with chronic illness. in her post 13 Tips From 13 Years Sick. For example:

11. Prepare yourself for the possibility that you’ll be chronically ill for the rest of your life.

This may not be the right course for everyone, but I’ve included it because of an experience I had a few months ago. One day, I had a “moment of truth” when I realized that I might be chronically ill for the rest of my life. I’ve tried dozens of treatments; none of them has cleared up the flu-like symptoms that I live with day in and day out. In that moment when I thought, “I might feel like this the rest of my life,” surprisingly, instead of feeling sad and depressed, I felt liberated, as if a great burden had lifted: the burden to get better.

Her post, 5 Tough Choices You Face When Chronically Ill or in Pain, is right on the money too. I know the weight of each of them. For example:

1. Do we keep our health problems quiet or do we talk openly about them? 

The issue of privacy is an ongoing tough choice whenever we communicate with friends and family, whether it be in person, by phone, by email or even text. If we talk about our health problems, some of them may respond judgmentally or even turn away from us. And even those who don’t turn away may change the way they relate to us. We want to be treated as whole people and as adults, but if we share our health struggles with others, we risk being treated like a shadow of our former self or, even worse, as dependent children.

On the other hand, if we keep quiet about our health issues—perhaps even acting “fake healthy” as I’ve been known to do — we risk leading others to misunderstand what we can and cannot do. In addition, by keeping quiet, we’re passing up the possibility of receiving much needed support — both emotional and practical.
If you’re like me, it can be exhausting, both physically and mentally, to continually assess and decide what you will and what you will not share with others about your health.
I find the choice remains tough — something to be renegotiated in every new setting.

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