To Each Illness I've Had to Fight, This Is What You've Taught Me


Dear Illnesses,

Enthesitis– You are my oldest constant companion. For years no doctor could find you and yet I was well aware of your presence. At age 10 you started to attack me, stripping me of my active lifestyle. But, for all you took away from me you have given me just as much if not more.

You taught me how to fight and that doctors do not always know best. You taught me perseverance from a young age. Without you I don’t think I would be able to handle my other health issues. Thank you for preparing me for the world. I wish you waited a little longer to show up but I am glad you came.

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Uveitis– You took me by surprise, possibly the only condition to accomplish that. I will never forget the day you were found in my left eye. I was scared and not sure what lie ahead. I still have a fear of eye drops and all things near my eye thanks to you. You taught me sometimes I have to do things I hate but that’s just the way it is.

AMPS/RSD– You were the first to affect my nervous system– foreshadowing my future. You taught me to work hard even when the goal seemed unachievable. I learned about persistence the hard way thanks to you. The lesson, slow and steady wins the race, became my motto to defeat you.

Celiac– Your timing was just about as bad as it could have been. The week before finals my first semester of college. You taught me how to make my voice heard, how to stand up for myself. You made me outspoken and helped me to let people know what I need. You taught me to be creative and how to make a gourmet meal in a microwave.

Gastroparesis– I do not even know what to say to you. You have taken away one of the most basic joys in my life. I have had to adjust myself to you and your needs. Controlling does not even begin to describe you. Yet you have taught me to enjoy the little things in life. I no longer take being able to enjoy a small piece of chocolate for granted.

POTS/Dysautonomia– We are still getting to know each other. At least you had the decency to first show your affects on me in front of every single doctor on the GI wing– a double edge sword. You are a tricky one, most doctors do not know what to make of you. You have taught me how integral planning is, how the smallest mistake can take a week to fix. On the bright side you have given me an hour of relaxation once a week during my infusions.

As a group you guys have tested me and put me through the ringer. Yet the struggle has made me stronger. I am now equipped with confidence and integrity. When I look back on all I have faced and the battles I have fought I know I can push forward. For that I thank you.

Sincerely,

Joan

A version of this post originally appeared on Life with a Flare.

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