doctor holding a patient's hand

That Grief That Comes With Losing a Doctor


When I was a junior in college, I shared a fifth-floor studio apartment in a pre-war, walk-up Manhattan building with a dear friend. For many New Yorkers, it was customary to take one’s laundry to a dry cleaner to be washed and folded if you didn’t have access to machines in your building. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones, so every couple of weeks, I’d lug my gray, jersey laundry bag down five flights of narrow stairs and drop it off with the sweet couple who owned the cleaners attached to my building. They were such an endearing duo – always greeting me with a smile, holding onto our odd-shaped packages until we returned home at night and folding all of my clothes with enviably crisp corners. When my roommate and I decided to make the move to Brooklyn, one of the things I would miss most was this couple. They had become a part of my daily routine – a comfort to see and a reminder that to a certain point, I was universally cared for.

I tell you this story to illustrate the importance that people can have on your life. Perhaps you’d like to substitute my dry cleaners for your local grocery store clerk, or the wide-smiling FedEx delivery guy who always tosses your pup a treat. Now, take that emotional response and double it for the people, aside from family and friends, who have a tremendous impact on your day-to-day: an especially caring pharmacist, your energizing mentor, your watchdog of a next-door neighbor. To move away or to lose one of these individuals guts you a little bit more than most. You can feel the absence in your every day and notice the spaces they once filled.

Now, for a person that struggles with chronic/mental illness, try tripling that response. Does it hurt in the parts of you that you didn’t even know you could feel pain in? That is what it is like to lose a doctor, nurse, surgeon or therapist on your medical team.

For those of us who have been living in the chronically ill community for quite a while, we can attest to how important and rare it is to find members of your medical team who are indispensable. I have gone through a significant number of neurologists and ear-nose-throat specialists in my day. My short lifetime has seen them all – from misguided surgeons who make horrific judgment calls to inexperienced surgeons who only prescribe standard procedures without the slightest consideration for treatments on the fringe. But I like to think that all of the bitterness prepared me for my current surgeon, whom I will refer to as Dr. X. Though he has only treated me since 2015, he has completely regalvanized my trust in doctors. He has been the bright light in the black licorice sea of my medical journey.

I like to say that I got sick enough to be lucky enough to meet Dr. X. Aside from performing two very complicated and side effect-rich procedures on me in the span of nine months, he most recently took my brain MRI to be reviewed by top radiologists across the country in order to determine the necessity of my upcoming operation (news flash: it’s necessary). Imagine that: a doctor that pursues a second and third opinion for the patient! He is equally personable and knowledgable, and never has to recap my medical history at the beginning of each appointment. He’s also been a tried-and-true advocate for my prickly pain management before and after each surgery.

At my most recent appointment, in which we were to discuss my treatment plan and course of action for an upcoming surgery, Dr. X delivered the news that he was retiring from surgical cases such as mine. My stomach sank and I could feel my belly button all the way in my toes.

It has taken me weeks to sit down and write about this loss in my life. Surgeons like Dr. X are so incredibly rare to patients like me. He has dedicated his 30+ year career to the very small part of the body which I just happen to get recurring infections in (go me!), and has succeeded in creating a speciality practice performing at the top of his craft (go him!).

I have yet to fully process this change. It may take me a while. And to be honest, I may never get over it. But I am incredibly grateful to have had a doctor like him in my corner. He was a constant reminder that puzzling patients like myself are worth saving, are worth waking up in the middle of the night for and are usually the reason most people get into medicine in the first place.

Cheers to all you tricky patients. May you find your Dr. X one day, too.

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Thinkstock photo via Ridofranz.

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selfie of a woman in the hospital

How My #ChronicallyStrong Selfies Help Me Through Tough Mental Health Days


Sometimes it’s easier to put a filter on the smile, add a relevant quote and a few hashtags for attention than to really tell them how you feel. Filters allow me to have color in my face, pink on my lips and even a crown of flowers on my head, but it still doesn’t get rid of the exhausted person behind that smile. That person just picked lying on the couch over getting up and cooking something to eat, she chose to let people see the her who is smiling, the her who really wants to believe what she writes… the girl who believes one day she will be #beautiful.

Having spouts of depression this year has made me rely on these selfies of #strength, #chdwarrior, #bekind, #chronicallystrong… the physical, the tangible part of my struggles. What if I started posting #depressionhurts, #anxietysucks, #dontwanttomove, #nocontrol, #nolove…? Those hashtags scare people. Those are the hashtags that make that “friend” you haven’t talked to in two years text you “are you OK?” Those hashtags make people afraid to hurt you, like you’re made of glass.

The truth is I don’t want others to be affected. I’d rather deal with it myself and figure it out on my own. In one of my favorite books, “The Fault in Our Stars,” Hazel tries to explain why she can’t let someone love her, be her friend or even care for her: “’I’m a grenade and at some point, I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?” and that’s what it feels like. Having a chronic disease makes you realize people will come and go – even before my depression and anxiety I felt like this. I’ve never been fully invested in a relationship because I don’t want that person to have to “deal” with me.

This is me. The scars, the pain, the pale skin, being afraid of pain – yet embracing it at the same time. The selfies I share make others think I’m OK, they won’t worry about me and I don’t have to keep track of who I’ve told what to. Selfies are never taken at 2 a.m. when you lie awake or 4 a.m. after you wake up from having a panic attack in your sleep. Who wants to see those? Who wants to imagine that you’re not the #chdwarrior #chronicallystrong person you have deceived everyone with?

It’s not a facade, it’s how I choose to show myself. I do believe I am #chronicallystrong, a #chdwarrior and I have #strength; those are the days I need to post those selfies. Those are the pictures I look at when I’m having a bad day, they remind me I am stronger than the thoughts that live in my head, the depression that leaves me in bed and the anxiety that cancels all my plans.

Through the past year I have learned new ways to love myself on days I want to scream, to let it out on days I want to keep it in and to remember that I’ve survived 100 percent of my worst days. Learning to love my #selfie one day at a time.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

jessica stipe arguing with a doctor

This Viral Video Shows What Doctors Need to Understand About Long Wait Times


Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Paige Wyant, The Mighty’s associate chronic illness editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.

A woman from Florida named Jessica Stipe posted a video on Monday of the treatment she received from a doctor after calmly expressing her frustration at having to wait over an hour while sick and throwing up in pain. Though she made the appointment for 6:30, by 7:45 all the staff had done was take a urine sample. The video has been viewed more than 400,000 times.

I'm severely sick and came to Gainesville after hours with a 6:30 appointment . By 7:45 was not seen still in severe pain and throwing up in the trash can . All they had me do was pee in a cup to see if I'm pregnant …. ummm I know I'm not … I asked for my co pay back so I could leave and go back home to bed and try to be seen elsewhere tomorrow because I'm just that miserable that all I want is my bed . The Dr was mad I wanted my co pay back and was unhappy with having to wait so long and proceeded to cuss me out . My daughter recorded it because they were so rude . When he saw it was being recorded he snatched my baby's phone and shoved her when she tried to get it back . Gpd is here now but says we can't press assault charges even though it's all on tape because she has no injury .. wtf .. he took her phone and shoved her she is a minor …. never go there for medical care .* for licensing and usage please contact: licensing@viralhog.com

تم نشره بواسطة ‏‎Jessica Stipe‎‏ في 9 أكتوبر، 2017

 

Stipe’s Facebook post read:

“I’m severely sick and came to Gainesville after hours with a 6:30 appointment . By 7:45 was not seen still in severe pain and throwing up in the trash can . All they had me do was pee in a cup to see if I’m pregnant …. ummm I know I’m not … I asked for my co pay back so I could leave and go back home to bed and try to be seen elsewhere tomorrow because I’m just that miserable that all I want is my bed . The Dr was mad I wanted my co pay back and was unhappy with having to wait so long and proceeded to cuss me out . My daughter recorded it because they were so rude . When he saw it was being recorded he snatched my baby’s phone and shoved her when she tried to get it back . Gpd is here now but says we can’t press assault charges even though it’s all on tape because she has no injury .. wtf .. he took her phone and shoved her she is a minor …. never go there for medical care.”

The doctor, Peter Gallogly, has since written a statement defending himself, claiming he makes no excuses for his behavior, but that Stipes had been “increasingly belligerent and abusive” towards his staff.

We can’t see what happened before the camera started rolling, but regardless, I was shocked and saddened by Gallogly’s behavior in the video. Stipe’s frustration with the wait time is a feeling I – and I’m sure many others with chronic illness – can relate to all too well. And it’s something I wish more doctors understood.

When I make an appointment at an after-hours clinic (like Stipe did) or go to a 24-hour emergency room as a chronic illness patient, it’s because I feel like absolute hell and cannot bear another second of whatever agony my body has decided to gift me with at that moment. I feel pretty awful most days in general, so my friends and family know that when I say I need to get to Urgent Care stat, something must be seriously wrong.

Sitting in an uncomfortable chair under the harsh lights of a bland waiting room is not fun for anyone – but when all hell seems to have broken loose in your body, every ounce of that discomfort is amplified and a single second can feel like an eternity. If I am willing to leave the dark, cool comfort of my bed where I have all my supplies at hand and endure the process of getting dressed, driving to the doctor’s office, sitting in the waiting room, speaking with people, etc., I must really be in a bad place.

So I can empathize with how miserable Stipe must have felt after sitting around for over an hour. I totally understand the feeling of just wanting to go home, even if you’re not leaving with any answers, just so you don’t have to sit around in an uncomfortable environment a minute longer. I get it. But clearly this doctor did not.

Doctors (and other medical professionals) are supposed to help their patients. In an ideal world, they would all be compassionate, listen to us, believe us, do whatever it takes to help us feel even marginally better.

That’s not what this doctor did.

In the video, Stipe tries to calmly and politely explain her situation – only to be met with rage from the doctor as he yells at her to “get the f*** out of my office.” Then, when he sees that Stipe’s daughter is recording, he lunges at her, grabs her phone out of her hands, and walks away with it.

I understand if there are long wait times at an office – especially if it’s a clinic that accepts walk-ins and emergencies. I understand if the staff is spread thin and managing more patients than they should. I’m certainly not happy about it (you better believe I was fuming after waiting nearly three hours to simply get my blood drawn yesterday), but I understand. It’s indicative of the larger, complex issues with our overburdened healthcare system that probably won’t be solved anytime soon.

In the meantime, what both patients and medical professionals can do is simply be respectful and do our best understand the other’s situation.

For us patients, I don’t want to suggest that we should be accepting of ridiculous wait times while we sit around in agony. We just need to channel our frustration into something constructive that will result in positive change.

On the flip side, doctors need to realize that the people sitting in waiting rooms aren’t just names on a list for them to check off. They are real people, and they wouldn’t have come to the doctor if they weren’t struggling with a serious issue. When they express frustration with the wait time, like Stipe did, it doesn’t mean they’re “impatient” – it just means they’re tired, sick, and want relief, even if that means going home.

The doctor in the video may be stressed and overwhelmed with the number of patients he is trying to serve, but that doesn’t make it OK for him to react the way he did. He doesn’t attempt to sympathize or try to understand where this woman is coming from. He is angry and defensive – everything a doctor shouldn’t be.

Although I am outraged by this doctor’s actions, as I’m sure others are as well, I hope this video can ultimately serve as a reminder of how important it for medical professionals and patients to treat each other with kindness and respect. Everyone deserves that. As those of us with chronic illness know, a little understanding and empathy can go a long way.

woman sitting on the toilet feeling sick

The Truth About Sick


Unfiltered, 7:00-ish a.m.

This is the part of being sick nobody sees. It’s also the part of me I never show.

While sitting on my toilet, covered by a blanket with the heater on me in the middle of a Florida summer throwing up into a trash can, expelling undigested food from yesterday through cold sweats and fierce pain, I hear the voice of my cousin David telling me recently the bravest thing I could do is show what being sick is really like, because maybe then other people who are sick wouldn’t feel alone. Maybe people who have never experienced “sick” could understand it, and maybe then we could work towards a better future.

So here it is. This is the me behind “I’m fine.” This is what living with a disease (or multiple diseases in my case) that are trying to kill you is really like. This is why I try to never make plans before 2:00 p.m. This is why I missed all the LBL breakfast meetings this year. This is why I missed your show, or rescheduled, or cancelled at the last minute. This is my reality. This is what happens behind closed doors. This is what it’s like to be sick.

A side note – “I’m fine” doesn’t mean I (or any chronically ill person) is suddenly not sick. If we say I’m fine it means “I am fine enough to be where I am doing what I am and I don’t want to talk about my sick parts. It’s an invitation to be present in the now and not dwell in the before.

Today, at least right now, I’m not fine.

The funny thing about chronic illness is that while we are always sick, what we consider the sick part can happen suddenly. It can end suddenly too, or it can linger for weeks on ends. My baseline is the flu of a well person, my sick is their Ebola. Most of us chronically ill folk get warning signs when we are about to get sick. Warnings which range from extreme hunger and pizza cravings to smelling gas. Sometimes though, like an unexpected guest, Sick just shows up with no warning at all.

Today I woke up with intense pain in my left leg, hip and foot. When I say intense pain, I mean the kind of pain that feels like the insides of your bones are being chewed on by little monsters with sharp teeth. Having pain is not really in itself something I consider as a sick thing anymore. I’ve been friends with pain so long that for me, it’s just a side effect of living. I wake up with pain of some degree every day. Today the pain actually woke me up. That also isn’t that unusual. In fact, this kind of pain is so usual that despite it, I woke up feeling OK. I hugged my dogs and human. My lovely fiancé made me coffee as he does every morning. I skimmed through Patreon and read Amanda Palmer’s latest blog. I thought about my day ahead and at that moment felt like I would be able to get through most of my original plans.

And then, Sick came calling.

Out of nowhere and yet back from somewhere because she is always lingering, Sick arrived. Because I am used to Sick showing up without an invite, I am always prepared for her visit. I sleep with a bag of medicine to offer Sick like a refreshment when she shows up. She is always hungry. I feed her pain pills, steroids, zofran, seizure meds, ice chips and all sorts of other goodies like a create your own tapas tray customized to whatever her delight is today. I try to bargain with her. I offer Sprite and soft pillows. Sick is often cold, so I keep a sweater with me at all times and dress in layers. I keep a heater and blanket in my bathroom to keep her warm. I bargain again, “You’re warm now Sick, and you’ve been fed all my best pills. I’ve given you my best pillows and cancelled my morning. I know you are tired, so can we call truce if I let you sleep?” Sick will never respond right away.

When Sick is present, my entire existence becomes about the comfort of Sick. I stand a passenger in myself, hoping she doesn’t destroy too much and watching helplessly while she invades my home, my body, my life. Everything I do is a bribe to encourage her to go away. Sometimes Sick stays for days. Sometimes for weeks, and sometimes months or years. Often Sick stops by for a few hours to feast on organs and steal some strength, leaving just as suddenly as she came. I know she is never far away though.

One of the hardest things about being chronically ill is introducing Sick to people around you without pushing them away. Sick is very private and possessive, and honestly, I don’t really want to tell you about how I sat on my toilet covered in a blanket vomiting and expelling food after waking up with crushing pain, but I don’t want you to be mad at me for cancelling plans again either. I don’t ever want to sleep for 16 hours in a row and miss your baby shower or birthday party, but it isn’t something I get to decide; and so, I would like for you to understand.

Being chronically ill and living with incurable disease strips you bare. I am so much more than my illness, but living through today takes priority over everything and sometimes just today takes all the energy I have and then some I borrow from tomorrow. Sometimes it takes that much to live through this hour.

When I see people out, I often hear some version of “Well, you look good.” Yeah, well, you didn’t see me throw up on my shirt and change my clothes twice because I had expelled my body onto myself uncontrollably from both sides earlier. You didn’t see me shivering in a hot shower with purple toes and fingers trying to get the blood to flow to my appendages. You didn’t see me wake up disoriented in a cold sweat when my sugar and blood pressure dropped at the same time. You didn’t see me last night when in the middle of walking my legs stopped receiving messages from my brain and I stood in one place willing myself to move. You didn’t see me when my lungs filled with fluid and I sat down where I was and my fiancé came running with the medicine. You didn’t see him carry me to the couch and work me through an Addison’s episode waiting patiently for me to come around again. You don’t know that I woke up four hours early to put preparation H on my swollen eyelids, clear my stomach of vomit, take extra lasix to pee out the fluid trapped in my swollen feet, peroxide brush the thrush from my mouth, oil my dislocated joints with medicine and heat, take a basket full of pills to make my body work enough to get by and cover all that up with carefully layered makeup and specific layered clothing that seems eclectic and fun to you, but really is just a colorful way to keep myself warm just to make it here to spend this hour with you. And how could you know? I’ve never told you. I’ve only said I’m fine or not said anything. The silence is deafening to me.

I don’t want you to see any of that, so I accept your compliment as a compliment and disregard the question mark. I talk animatedly about things and listen with true interest. When we part and I awkwardly fumble over saying goodbye, I try not to listen to Sick telling me not to love you too much because I belong to her. Loving people when Sick is around can crush you both.

What you also don’t see is how after that hour or two with you when I looked well, I am completely drained. I go home with the kind of fatigue that only someone with chronic illness could understand. I don’t just need sleep or a better diet. I need a new body because mine is giving out. Over time I have traded broken parts for new ones and gotten adjustments to this or that. I’m a like an antique car that is really beautiful when it’s working and really expensive and irritating when it’s not. And like that car, I am always needing or about to need a repair that isn’t in the budget.

Today, well, right now really, because I’m still hoping to get an afternoon out of today, I am not fine. Today I woke up in bone crushing pain and ran to the bathroom suddenly to vomit in a trash can while expelling yesterday’s undigested food from my other end and shivering under a blanket in a cold sweat in front of a heater in the middle of July in Florida.

Today I am unfiltered. This is my life. I’m not even going to edit this post and try to make it wittier or look for grammatical errors because I’m too fucking tired and this is my reality. I’m not going to try to take a more pleasant picture of me sick either, because Sick isn’t pleasant.

woman sitting on the toilet feeling sick

My love just pulled in with my new heating pad, my birthday present of choice, and I’m going to try to bribe Sick to hit the road. Sick was kind enough to leave my hands unfurled today so that through my stomach pain while lying under blankets on the couch I could write my truth. So that maybe my silence wouldn’t keep feeding Sick.

I hope you hear me.

Sick keeps me in fear of talking about her. I am afraid that by sharing my truth about my relationship with Sick, you will love me less because fear of losing me will encourage that. I am afraid by sharing my truth you’ll be disgusted that I keep a blanket in the bathroom. I am afraid by sharing my truth you will stop inviting me out because now you know that underneath Fine I am not fine, and Sick is always going to trump your invite if she so desires. I am afraid that if I keep sharing my truth I will disappear and all you will see is Sick in my place. I am afraid if I share my truth, you will also see that Sick is friends with Dying and both of them are in my life whispering to me taking my attention and time from you. I am afraid if I share my truth you will see that I feed Sick because when she leaves for good it’s because her friend Dying took over and their friend Death will be near. I am afraid sharing my truth will be too much and you will go silent because Hallmark didn’t make a greeting card for this.

I am afraid if I don’t share my truth though, “I’m fine” will be swallowed by Sick far sooner. Mostly, I am afraid if I don’t introduce you to Sick that time will run out, and space between us will grow until Dying takes over and Death is down the road.

So here is my truth, gross and bare. My truth is my weapon against Sick. The more I speak my truth, the more space opens for Love and the less room Sick has to inhabit. Love is the fuel my body depends on to fight her. Love has pieced me back together more than once. Love is friends with Hope, and Hope reminds me of his friend Miracle who has come around before and maybe will again. Love and Hope are also friends with Joy and when Hope and Joy accompany Love, Sick takes smaller bites and I feel less Pain and Fear. Love is warmer than Sick, Hope is bigger than Fear, and Joy is stronger than Pain.

This is my truth about Sick, but I want the rest of my story to be about Love, and Hope, and Joy, and you and me and us. And maybe with that kind of story, Miracle might just stop by.

This post originally appeared on Upcycled Jane.

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trump signing aca executive order

President Trump Signs Executive Order Weakening the Affordable Care Act


President Trump signed an executive order Thursday morning that seeks to weaken aspects of the Affordable Care Act, a move critics say could drive up costs for people with serious health needs.

The executive order asks for federal agencies to expand small businesses’ ability to band together and form associations to negotiate and buy cheaper, less-regulated health insurance. These associations and healthcare options would be expanded across state lines and wouldn’t be subjected to many ACA rules, including requirements for mental health coverage, maternity care, and regulations against charging more or denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

It also seeks to expand short-term limited duration insurance, which provide a limited amount of benefits and aren’t subject to ACA mandates and rules for those with pre-existing conditions. Under the ACA, these plans are limited to three months, intended for people between jobs or moving off their parents’ health plans. The executive order seeks to extend these plans to a year.

The order also seeks to expand businesses’ ability to use health reimbursement arrangements, which allow employers to pay for employees’ medical expenses, outside the regulations of the ACA.

Proponents of the order claim the changes will create more competition among insurance companies and create more insurance options at lower prices. Critics say Trump’s changes will allow healthy individuals to leave the ACA marketplace to buy cheaper insurance elsewhere, leading to increased healthcare costs for those with serious health needs who are on ACA-regulated plans.

“It would essentially create a parallel regulatory structure within the individual and small group markets that is freed from the various consumer protections established,” Spencer Perlman, a policy analyst with Veda Partners, told Bloomberg. “The end result could be a death spiral for ACA-compliant plans.”

Trump said the order was just “the beginning” of his ACA changes and that he will still pressure Congress to repeal and replace the ACA.

“I’ve been hearing about the disaster of Obamacare for so long, in my case many years. Most of it outside in civilian life, and for a long period of time since I started running and since I became president of the United States I just keep hearing repeal replace, repeal replace,” the president said at the executive order signing at the White House. “Well, we’re starting that process and we’re starting it in a very positive manner.”

The executive order will not go into effect immediately. Federal agencies will need to allow public comment before rewriting regulations, which could take months and won’t happen in time for the ACA’s next open enrollment period between November 1 and December 15.

Update Oct 13 2:00 a.m. PST: Late Thursday night, the Trump administration announced it would stop supporting cost-sharing subsidies that reimburse insurers for reducing the deductibles and co-pays of lower-income Obamacare enrollees — despite the fact that insurers must continue providing these cost-sharing discounts. The American Psychological Association said in a statement, “This decision will be particularly harmful to working families and individuals who will no longer be able to afford their premiums.” For more information, click here.

illustration of a woman's face by the author

When People Say Your Health Trials Will Be Valuable 'Someday'


As people with chronic illness, we are so often reminded of something that I believe is of great detriment to our well-being: when well people tell us our health struggles, our personal challenges, the great storms of our lives “will someday be useful.”

I’ve grown to loathe this idea. I realize it is meant to be an encouragement; however, it causes myself and my brothers and sisters in pain deeper despair.

“Someday?” It’s as though they are reminding us that we don’t have as much to give until we are restored to health like them. I completely reject anything of the sort! It’s not only ableism, it’s spiritual degradation.

I believe you and I are worthy and valuable just as we are. Yes, right now. You were no more “special” when your nervous system was functioning properly, but I can attest that the memory of wellness certainly has a shining halo around it.

We feel so small and insignificant after illness devours our lives, and those we love in its wake. There is no “after the tsunami lifts” with chronic illness, as we are always seeking out cover, our safe places are constantly being destroyed, and the physical and emotional turmoil can feel endless. My personal peace rests in my faith, a relationship which has grown inside of my own tsunami.

This message of purpose is one I write on frequently, because I struggle so deeply with the whispers that my life isn’t enough, I should be doing more, and I wonder if I would be more valuable as a person if only my body worked again.

I realize this is my pride speaking, however.

In those moments when the whispers win, I have forgotten how many opportunities I’m supplied with to have an impact, even in the very midst of my personal and physical battles. Maybe, and probably because of my struggles, I’ve been allowed these chances.

What seemingly small opportunities and connections might you be taking for granted in your own life?

The next time someone reminds you that all the pain and difficulty you’re battling will be worth “something” someday, please remind them that pain doesn’t have to stay hidden, and that your time traveling the path of illness is not a waste.

I don’t believe we have to wait until we’re perfect for our lives to have value. If that’s true, then I guess we will all be waiting forever!

Are we supposed to see the silver lining in every storm before we can learn from it? Even in the very middle of the battle, your experiences and your willingness to relate to and comfort others is so rare and valuable that it stands out among the noise and busy crowded world we live in.
It’s so easy to withdraw when the going gets tough. In time, however, we feel so marginalized and isolated. You do have a voice. Your story, your purpose, your personal gifts matter – and you are needed in this world. We greatly undervalue the quiet connections, asking others how they are and actually listening in return, sending a note by mail to a struggling friend or letting someone know they’ve been in your prayers.

Society does not measure these acts as successes, but what if you redefine what success means in your life? You may have very little energy to spare, but what you have to share is precious!

We become so focused on perfection, staying hidden until the right moment to present ourselves shiny and clean, having overcome our difficult and uncomfortable circumstances. This is what society applauds. But don’t we each have unique and valuable wisdom to share that comes with the daily perseverance of ongoing trials?

It’s one thing to be debilitated by a body that relentlessly fights against you, but please don’t believe the lie that you are less-than or it will hurt your spirit.

This post originally appeared on A Body of Hope.

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