On the Days When Living With Chronic Illness Just Stinks, Remember This


I’m sitting at the doctor’s office, the place I’m more familiar with than anyone should be. All week I’ve been fighting an infection, and I kept telling myself this was normal. Just a normal part of my life with two forms of chemotherapy. But on the way here it hit me that this just really stinks. And, no, it’s not normal.

When your dog has an accident all over your floor and you’re almost too exhausted and dizzy to clean it up, but you do it anyway. When you can’t make it through yoga without leaving because your joints are just too immobile that day. When you spend all your energy on work and then are unable to sleep from all the coughing. These things are inconveniences, but they are also losses.

There is a slow current of loss in my life. My soul feels stronger than ever — alive, bright and luminous. But my body… it’s a whole different matter. Yesterday after a fantastic consulting meeting with my pastor I asked my husband what he thought I’d be doing now if I had never gotten sick. That’s a dangerous question…

chronic illness meme

The truth is that without sickness I honestly would have achieved so much more by now. It’s either sad or amusing that I’m a high-capacity woman in a low-capacity body, so I choose to be amused most the time. But you know what’s even more true? While sickness has made the quantity of my achievements lower, it has made the quality of my voice stronger. 

The current of loss in my life leads me to places I would have never gone without getting sick. My life has immeasurable impact in the little things, and bearing the losses of convenience, opportunity, and physical freedom drive that impact.

Today, when life is hard, frustrating and literally messy, when everyone else is at work and I’m in bed, I tell myself the ugliness of today is creating a strength and beauty that won’t come from any other stream.

Dear friends, who with me are so desperately sick of being sick, take heart — our stinky, infection-ridden days are making us women and men of unconquerable courage. The chronic illness life is a life of holding the tension between acknowledging pain and finding meaning. Some days we can hold that rope better than others. Today, when being sick just stinks, I can remember I am loved for who I am at my core, not for what I can do, and living in that love lies my greatest accomplishment and biggest impact. 

Today, when it just stinks, remember, you really are loved.

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