When you have a chronic disease, your version of normal is different from another person’s. It can be frustrating to feel misunderstood. Here are 17 things that are your reality that most people are simply unaware of.
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1. There’s a period of mourning
- Even if your disease isn’t fatal, it’s killing life as you know it. It’s normal for people to go through a period of mourning when they’re diagnosed with a disease that will change their life.
2. You’ve got your medical history elevator pitch down
- It doesn’t take too long to develop the ability to succinctly summarize years of medical history in one brief package.
3. You view your body differently
- It’s common for your body image to shift drastically. Due to disease and surgeries, your body might look different. Furthermore, you may value your body’s functions more than you did before you were diagnosed.
4. Your disease isn’t imaginary
- It’s challenging when people disregard a chronic illness because you look like you’re fine or you’re acting like you’re fine. But you know that things aren’t always as they seem and kind of resent when people act like your disease doesn’t exist.
5. People try to empathize but can’t
- With the best intentions, people explain their ailments to you (even if they only have a cold) but that can be a painful interaction. Your challenges are nothing like their sicknesses especially because their illnesses are temporary.
6. You rock the doctor’s office
- You spend a lot of time getting treatments and checkups so you’ve developed some tricks of the trade. You know which chair is the best and which receptionist is the most helpful.
7. There’s a lot of uncertainty
- No one knows what the future may hold, but for those suffering from chronic disease, there is a constant awareness of its fragility. This can cause stress that other people don’t get.
8. You have to pick between terrible choices
- Treatment options may offer different side effects and you have to pick the lesser of two evils. This can mean making hard decisions with dramatic consequences and then wondering if you made the right choice.
9. You want to hide it
- Some conditions may make other people uncomfortable or cause them to treat you differently so you to try to hide it. Some people go to unhealthy lengths to keep their diseases secret.
10. Unkind words hurt
- People don’t realize how hurtful things like, “You are lucky you don’t have to work” or “I wish I had a disease that made me drop 10 pounds” really are. Even if you’re generally resilient against ignorance and lack of tact, after a while, it can take effort not to let these words wear on you.
11. Support systems go a long way
- More than ever, those struggling with chronic disease need the help of friends and family. Even if your life is altered by your illness, you are the same person and you want a semblance of the life you had. When your friends still come by to watch movies or eat cookie dough with you, life feels good.
12. You celebrate the small victories
- You find joy in things that you once took for granted. Being able to walk around the block or eat an entire sandwich might be challenging feats for you and warrant celebration.
13. You blame yourself
- Sometimes you can’t help but feel that if you had taken better care of your body or been more careful, things would be different. But you can’t blame yourself. You didn’t fail your body.
14. Disease changes your plans
- Things that you were working toward in the future may be altered or impossible under the circumstances of a new diagnosis. This can be extremely frustrating because you have to abandon some of your hopes and discover new dreams.
15. It has a positive effect on who you become
- At the end of the day, the challenges that you face due to your chronic disease make you a better person. You know that you are more resilient, empathetic and grateful. Even though your illness has been terrible, you have a lot of good things to show for it as well.
16. You’re living with it
- Just because you have a chronic disease, doesn’t mean you are suffering from it. You are alive, you are living with it and life is pretty great.
17. You are constantly looking for a cure
- You can’t help but hold on to the hope that you will have a future not defined by your disease. Especially when you suffer from a disease that has limited treatment options, you hope future research will grant you relief from your challenges. This means you are open to treatments you haven’t tried before. For example, Life Health Centers offers treatments for Lyme disease, a disease which often goes undiscovered and has limited treatment options. But due to therapies offered by Life Health Centers such as hyperthermia treatment, catalyzing nutrition and lymphatic irrigation, there is hope of relief from your chronic disease.