Having a chronic illness comes with a lot of information you wish you didn’t have to know. I have had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 18 months old, so for me, I have never known life without a chronic illness. There wasn’t much I thought living with a chronic illness could teach me. I knew it meant going to doctor’s appointments and taking medication for the rest of my life and that there were going to be some things I wanted to do but couldn’t. Then, when I was 25 I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. At the time, I had no idea what ulcerative colitis even was. Throughout my journey with ulcerative colitis and the subsequent six surgeries I have had as a result, I have realized that there was a whole lot about living with a chronic illness I didn’t know prior to my diagnosis. Being on death’s door can teach a person a lot. So can having six major surgeries and living with the constant thought in the back of your head that at any moment you could be sick again or back on the operating table. Living with a chronic illness has taught me a lot of life lessons.
1. Don’t ever take anything for granted.
2. Take a moment each day to appreciate the good things.
3. It’s okay to take time for yourself.
4. Just because someone looks fine on the outside doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling on the inside.
5. It’s okay to rest. In fact, it may make you a better mother/father, sister/brother, friend.
6. It’s okay to say “no”.
7. Time is a valuable resource. Use it wisely, especially when you are feeling well enough.
8. A great marriage is one that has been tested by chronic illness and has come out stronger on the other side.
9. Great friends are those who care about how you are doing but do not define you by your illness.
10. Having a chronic illness does not make you a weak person. In fact, it makes you stronger. Not everyone could deal with what you are going through.
What are some of the things living with a chronic illness has taught you?