Today for the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge – #HAWMC – the prompt is to write about anything we want. My decision is to focus on the positive things that have come from being diagnosed with multiple chronic illnesses. Don’t believe there can be constructive outcomes from having five medical conditions that I’ll live with for the rest of my life? Think again.
Instead of feeling down about how I feel I’ve learned to be grateful for the small things in life as well as the things I’ve taken for granted. Sure, I have bad days: days when I spend the day in bed, crying over nothing or something specific, being hateful to others, etc.
Knowing that my health can be so much worse helps me keep me be thankful for the treatments that I receive that allow me to walk, breath without a trach, travel, maintain my eyesight and giggle with my daughters.
After I was treated successfully for depression (still on medication), I learned to enjoy the small things around me: the birds in my backyard that I watched through the window, the taste of a good meal, the hug from a friend.
Having a medical team that works with me and understands that I will struggle to get what I want and be compliant helps me overcome obstacles that should be caused by the chronic illnesses. My goal is to live a life as “normal” as possible. I do use a scooter when I have to walk long distances, but I will walk as much as I am able without it. After a doctor put me prescription pain medication because of chronic pain from Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis, I realized that I wasn’t myself. I was sleeping all the time and in a daze. Not the life I want to lead. So I asked to be taken off the pain meds and to find another way to deal with the pain. Thank goodness for trigger point injections, Humira, and relaxation and breathing techniques.
Being My Own Advocate
Before my diagnoses, I would listen to what a doctor told me without question. Now I do my own research, fire doctors, speak up for myself if I feel that I am being treated badly and have informed my family to do the same. Bringing a list of questions to a doctor visit no longer embarrasses me. Requesting information about side effects of medications has become second nature. I know that I have choices and feel more empowered. And because of this, I am an advocate for my daughter who also has medical problems.
Advocating for Others
Besides being an advocate for my daughter, I have made it my goal to be an advocate for others online. This is one of the most cherished outcomes of becoming chronically ill. The friendships I have made are treasured. The information I have shared is fulfilling.
You too can have a positive outcome when you are diagnosed with a chronic illness. It may take time, actually it probably will. Once you can see that the changes your body will go through do not have to change the inner you, you will have the opportunity to be grateful, to overcome obstacles and to be a healthcare activist.