Those with chronic illness know that each day can vary in severity from the previous day and that nothing is guaranteed. This can make scheduling far in advance almost impossible, and without a doubt frightening. Though chronic illness has caused me to fear making plans, have to cancel plans I do make, and so much more, there are also a few things chronic illness has made me grateful for…
1. Grateful for the Good & the Bad:
It might seem ridiculous to be grateful for the bad days that chronic illness causes, but those bad days ultimately make me appreciate the good days even more. If a date gets ruined because of an awful migraine or I can’t go out with friends because my joints are especially achy, I appreciate when I am able to go out next. Even if that rain check takes over a month to happen.
It can become incredibly difficult, sometimes impossible, to see the break in the seemingly endless storm. It can take a few days, a week, a month, sometimes half a year before a flare-up ceases. Sometimes it takes two months just to get one good day and then another two months before another good day rolls around. The struggles of a spoonie are undoubtedly hard, but clinging to the good days can help you get through. And those few days of somewhat peace can cheer up my mood in an instant, even if they don’t last.
2. Grateful for Friendships:
My chronic illness journey has made me incredibly grateful for the friends I have in my life, more specifically the friends who stayed with me when I got sick versus the friendships that ended. Even more specifically, the friendships I have made with others who are also chronically ill are some of my most treasured. These people truly understand my struggles and fears.
But even friends who aren’t chronically ill still hold such a special place in my heart. They have been by my side through the best of times and the worst of times. When you are chronically ill, you don’t necessarily get out of the house everyday. Sometimes you don’t leave the house for weeks. Having friends to talk to, even just to send Snapchats to one another, makes the days better and can ease the loneliness illness can cause.
3. Grateful for (Good) Doctors:
If you only ever see a doctor to get your yearly physical or for a cold here and there, you don’t understand. If the only doctor you have ever seen is your Primary Physician, you don’t understand. That isn’t supposed to come across as rude, it is simply true. When your “normal” doctor can no longer help you and suggests that you see a specialist (or multiple specialists), you never know if the next doctor you see will be a blessing or a curse. Due to the multitude of conditions I have, I see a variety of specialists. This also means I have seen some really bad doctors, too. Though I have really awful memories of horrible doctors, some of those horrible doctors helped me to get to my current doctors.
For an example, when I was still a teen, I could not see the endocrinologist that was recommended to me as they only saw adults. However, if I saw a doctor and already had one opinion, then I was able to see them as a minor. I saw a pediatric endocrinologist that told me all of my problems were due to gaining weight from eating unhealthily and because I was taking birth control. She spent barely any time with me and didn’t care what my mother nor I had to say. News flash! I unexpectedly gained fifty pounds and was eating normal. I was also taking birth control due to uncontrollable, heavy, lengthy menstrual cycles. Those two symptoms were just a snippet of the issues I was dealing with. Ultimately we found out I had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. I finally received my Hashimoto’s diagnosis from the original endocrinologist recommended to me. She ended up reporting the pediatric endocrinologist I saw.
4. Grateful for Ice Packs & Heating Pads:
Okay, so this one is pretty funny. But if you deal with any sort of chronic illness that can cause some type of pain, you will understand. If you read The Migraine Mantras blog because you have chronic migraine, you will definitely relate to this one! It is pretty common knowledge that ice packs are a migraineur’s best friend. If you deal with joint pain then you also probably use ice packs or heating pads on a regular basis. I have woken up several mornings surrounded by a “ice pack and heating pad graveyard” from the night before’s pain.
Note: Falling asleep with ice or heat is not recommended by doctors. However, sometimes it happens even if we try not to!
5. Grateful for Dogs
This one may also be pretty funny. But I mean it wholeheartedly! I loved dogs long before my health got much worse, but I didn’t realize how much they would play into my comfort. Dogs and animals in general give me such happiness and have helped me get through some of the worst times. I have one pet dog, but my friend’s dogs and dogs online give me almost the same amount of joy. They are so stinking cute and they instantly brighten up my mood. Even if my mood isn’t in the dumps, photos, videos, anything dog-related can bring me happiness.
6. Grateful For Support Groups.
I’m grateful for support groups, and blogs just like this one. Seeing how other people cope, and what other people are going through in their life helps me in a way. Getting to know others that know your pains, and know what you deal with on a day-to-day basis help you to feel a little bit more normal.