Take it away, Danea!
Illness comes with many unpleasant gifts: fatigue, pain, appointments, worry, medications and a host of other inconveniences. These are obvious. What is less apparent are the unexpected blessings that can come from dealing with a chronic illness.
Of course, no one would choose to be sick for these gifts. However, if you have to cope with an illness, it’s good to be reminded of the positives that can come from the journey.
I was born with a congenial disorder that set me on a lifelong healing path. I’ve had many of the unpleasant gifts: pain, infertility and I am currently on the national kidney transplant list. I know that illness, in and of itself, is decidedly not a gift.
Yet, if the sky is blue, it is blue. There is no sense in arguing with reality. So, I decided to go on a treasure hunt through my health history to find 5 amazing gifts that have come from my health challenges.
1. A Good Excuse to Rest: Everyone needs to rest sometimes. It is important for our body to recuperate from the rigors of work and family responsibilities. Every few months my back will remind me, through not-so-subtle pain, that it is time to take a break. I respond by putting life on pause and engaging in much needed self-care.
2. Motivation to Eat Healthy: Due to the nature of my kidney disease it became important for me to adopt a vegan diet. I can’t say that I would have made this choice without the doctor’s nudge, but I’ve had more energy and felt better even with limited kidney function. I have also enjoyed inventing vegan versions of my favorite comfort foods. Last night we had biscuits and veggie “sausage” gravy. Yumm!
3. Brings Dreams to Life: Illness is a poignant reminder that we don’t have all the time in the world. If there is something you’ve always wanted to do, now is the time. As the lab measurements of my kidney function declined, I knew I needed to switch gears. I quit my corporate job and began writing. Amazing thing is that my first book is in stores now.
4. Gratitude for the Small Things: I have never been more grateful for buttered crackers than after surgery. Disappearing pain, a call from a concerned doctor, warm hospital blankets, easy needle stick, short wait for an appointment, all of these tiny things become moments to rejoice in.
5. Acceptance: I believe acceptance is one of the more important skills we can learn as humans. We do not get to control all of the circumstances and challenges in our lives. We do get to control our reaction. Accepting what we cannot change frees our energy to focus on how we can adjust and participate in our care. Illness has made me more trusting, more vulnerable, more open and more loving than I would have been without it.
These gifts don’t come wrapped with a bow. They are not always shiny, or even welcome at times. However, gifts are there, we just have to look for them.
Today, I’d love to give away a copy of my new book, Chronic Resilience: 10 Sanity-Saving Strategies for Women Coping with the Stress of Illness. If you’d like to enter for a chance to win, Lene and I would like to know:
What gift have you received from chronic illness or other challenges in your life?
Write your answer in the comment section below before Sunday, August 11, 2013 at 6 PM EST. Winner will be selected at random and announced on Monday, August 12, 2013. NB: Please remember to include your name on your entry!
Danea Horn is the author of Chronic Resilience: 10 Sanity-Saving Strategies for Women Coping with the Stress of Illness. She blogs at www.ChronicResilience.com.