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Posted on 31. July 2014

Seeing Yourself as Healthy

By Danea Horn

In the spring of 2011, I was having lunch with a friend and discussing my intention to write Chronic Resilience: 10 Sanity-Saving Strategies for Women Coping with the Stress of Illness. She asked me: “Do you really want to be known as ‘the chronic illness girl’?” At the time, I absolutely did. I had a lot to share about the topic and felt that opening up a conversation about the realities of living with a chronic illness would be beneficial for me and for the women who would read the book. Yet, even in my determination, I knew I was taking a risk.

Writing Chronic Resilience would mean I would need to focus on the parts of myself that were hurting. I would need to explore emotions around pain, diagnosis and a lifetime of medications. I would need to amplify those experiences to look at them from all angles to find out what is true, valuable and empowering. When I looked in these dark, intimidating places, I did see that, smack in the middle of pain, a person can find power. And that acceptance isn’t giving in, but a way to shift the focus away from what one can’t control toward what one can. I learned new ways to manage my symptoms. I also connected with lots of other amazing health warriors committed to working life around their illness instead of letting illness take over. These were the gifts that came from allowing myself to be “the chronic illness girl.”

I have now had a kidney transplant. I let myself need healing, and I provided the time and space for recovery. I have adjusted to living immune-suppressed and to taking my new regimen of medication. I am ready to be something other than “the chronic illness girl.” I am ready to see myself as healthy.

No, I’m not as healthy as most people. But, for me, I’m doing pretty dang good. It is time to amplify the aspects of myself that are not dealing with medication, doctors and side effects. The medical stuff can still be there; it is embraced and accepted as the miracle that saved my life. But, it no longer has to be how I identify myself. It is only one aspect of the tapestry that comprises my whole.

It is time to practice what I’ve preached in Chronic Resilience, chapters 2 and 3. I had to let my illness take over for a bit to write about it and then to heal from it, but now it is time to explore my values and goals that have nothing to do with kidney disease.

What if we committed fully to seeing ourselves as healthy? Even when we have some pain or have to make it to the doctor by 2 pm, we know that we are more than a diagnosis. Could we make space for our health and for everything else that brings us joy? Could we talk about what we cope with and still know that we are so much more?

I know that we can. I know that healthy is a state of mind - one that it is time to choose. Let’s both, me and you, focus on the resilience part of chronic resilience.

Reposted with permission from: www.chronicresilience.com
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Comments (4) -

Sue
3:33 PM on Friday, August 01, 2014

Great article! For me, I feel much better when I focus on how well I am doing on any given day.  
Doing things that I can to improve my health such as eating healthy , and excercising on a regular basis are important.  
Going for infusions has always been difficult due to side effects and fatigue, however I have a regular regime that works to lessen the bad effects and get on my feet as quickly as possible.

Pete
6:52 AM on Saturday, August 02, 2014

I think that we are fortunate to live in a time and place where we have modern medicine like IgG infusions that enable us to enjoy life.

Deb Konrad
8:50 AM on Saturday, August 02, 2014

6 years ago I was diagnosed with an incurable type of Lymphoma...incurable but treatable...you could even say it is a chronic cancer...then 2 years ago,as a result of my 2.5 years of cancer treatment, I was diagnosed with Hypogammaglobulinemia  after experiencing many sinus infections that year.  The IVIG has been a miracle drug, keeping me infection free....I am NOT my disease...Cancer is NOT my career..nor is the Hypogammaglobulinemia . I have a career that I love...although I can not pursue it at the level I once did, it is my salvation, my creative outlet...I own a soft furnishings fabrication company...I decorate people's homes and make the drapes...etc... I prefer to focus on living my life the best I can between infusions..doc visits, the medical stuff. For me, that means focusing on family, friends and the hobbies that made me, ME, before the health issues cropped up. I do not actively participate in disease centered groups of any kind..I tried it and it wasn't for me...everyone is dealing with something in their lives...someone will always have it better or worse than I....

swarovski
7:16 PM on Monday, August 18, 2014

This post is worthy of appreciation, looking forward to more exciting!

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