To the Girl I Used to Be Before Chronic Illness: Thank You

Gosh, you were wonderful. You were vibrant, spontaneous and so full of adventure. You could stay out at karaoke until 2:00 in the morning on a Sunday night, drink who knows how many beers and still be good to go to work at 9:00 in the morning. You could take unexpected road trips, driving six hours straight just because. You could go walk around a theme park for hours and be perfectly OK doing it again the next day.

You didn’t have to take a dozen pills a day. You maybe had to take some Aleve or potassium sometimes because of work, but otherwise you were good to go. You didn’t have to check then double check your calendar to make sure you don’t miss a doctor’s appointment. You weren’t worried about side effects and drug interactions. You never even had your blood drawn.

I miss you sometimes. Well, maybe not miss. I envy you sometimes. Yes, envy. I envy the energy you had. I envy the drive you had. I envy the carefree life you led.


Then things changed. Once the pain started, you slowly changed.

That’s OK, though. You had to change. You had to adapt. Changing comes with all the hurdles. Waves of depression, the fluctuations in weight and the constant need to remind yourself you are worth fighting for.

You should see how you’ve turned out. Yeah, you have to take like 12 pills a day, some days you can only eat toast and pretzels and sometimes you really do beat yourself up when the depression or anxiety hits. You also know so much about chronic pain and all the medications used to treat arthritis. You researched everything about it. You’ve helped at least half a dozen friends get through the first stages of being sick without a diagnosis. You’ve survived three surgeries, a dozen minor procedures, and who knows how many different specialists. You are so much stronger now. And every day you get stronger.

So to the girl I used to be, thank you for being so bright and happy and optimistic. Without you, I don’t think I would’ve stood a chance of turning into the woman I am now.

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Thinkstock photo via evasilieva.

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