When Illness Moves in Like an Uninvited Houseguest


The uninvited houseguest. For anyone dealing with chronic pain and/or chronic illness, you know about this.

My houseguest has been around since September 2007. The houseguest decided to pounce into my home (my body) after I had my gallbladder removed.

The houseguest was not friendly. Never really has been. And it has shown up in a variety of ways.

Fatigue, malaise, chronic pain all became commonplace. Medical professionals not knowing what was going on with me. Or implying in subtle ways that “something is wrong with me upstairs.”

The houseguest became more and more unbearable as the months and years passed.

Loss of vision in my right eye at times. Loss of balance and strength at times. Neuropathic and joint pain, depression and anxiety kicking in harder and harder with no relief from injections and medications. Body image issues because my body was changing. Not because I wanted to change in this way. Quite frankly, I did not have a say in the matter.
The uninvited houseguest did.

More medications prescribed and recommended, only few hardly working. Meanwhile, the houseguest continuing to stomp its way around. Acting like it owned the joint.

Days passed.

Months and years passed.

Many with either no answers or a barrage of misdiagnoses. The houseguest would continue to hoard.

More depression. More anxiety. More fatigue. More chronic pain.
Gradually losing my health and livelihood.

More and more until I would question if life was worth living anymore.

Up until almost a year ago, there were no answers as to why the houseguest was still in the house. As to how the houseguest got into the house. In my body and affecting my mind.

two canes leaning against the wall

Luckily, there are people who genuinely care. Friends, family and medical professionals who are there for support. Near and far. Supportive people who would continue to be there when everyone else had left.

I am lucky to have this type of support.

I am lucky I am able to openly talk with them without being slighted in any way. Finally receiving an answer to what has been going on. And even though I have names for what has been happening, the fact of the matter is… the uninvited houseguest will never be moving out of the house fully. However, the hoarding in the house is slowing down.

By me taking action and focusing on what I can do each day versus what I cannot do. Realizing I only have enough “spoons” to manage the day and I have to use them accordingly. The number of spoons depends on the day really. And that is nothing to be ashamed of.

However, the uninvited houseguest will make a hell of a tear through my body, leaving me incapacitated for days and weeks on end.

The houseguest has forced me to change many aspects of my life. Therefore, I have to offer some gratitude towards it.

I do not think I would be as assertive about my care and needs as I am now. I think I would have tolerated criticism, judgment and being complacent more. I do not think telling people “no” would be a large part of my vocabulary – especially to those who think I can still do things with the energy and health I had before.

The houseguest has taught me a lot about myself. I can be resilient, even during those times where there are so many unknowns to so many questions. To listen to myself and my body. To be more inquisitive about people, things and situations. Never just taking anything at face value. Learning how to pace myself and truly care for myself in a compassionate way. Something I have had trouble with for most of my life.

There are many other lessons that the uninvited houseguest has helped me to understand. However, yes, it is still a pain in the ass to deal with.

In all honesty, the houseguest will always be around. Maybe it will hanging out in the yard, looking through the window. Other days, it will be barging into the wall like the Kool-aid man.

The “visit” may be short or an extended stay, when that occurs. I just have to remind myself to take small, slow steps. All the time.

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


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Ankylosing Spondylitis

disability parking space

Struggling to Decide Whether or Not I Should Park in a Disability Space

This has often been a great debate of mine since I got the thing years ago. To use or not to use… That is the question… I often find myself staring at this ominous piece of blue plastic in my purse like a curse. Once upon a time, I would have given anything to have [...]
bridget jones curled up in bed eating snacks

The Anatomy of a Pain Flare-Up

I wake up on Monday morning knowing something isn’t right. You see, after living with chronic illness for most of my life, I’ve come to know my body very well. I’ve been feeling a flare-up of my arthritis coming on for weeks, and somehow, until now, it has stayed at bay. I know from experience [...]

What I Have Learned From Ankylosing Spondylitis and Tai Chi

​Sometimes, someone comes into your life, so unexpectedly, takes your heart by surprise, and changes your life forever. (Journal prompt) For myself, it’s two entities. Ankylosing spondylitis and tai chi. Getting diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis earlier this year has turned my life and view 180°. Things I used to be able to do and maintain [...]
A decretive illustration of a woman and her black hair.

Why I Am Thankful for My Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosis

Intrinsically I think I’ve always felt that I was heading towards some type of calamity. Perhaps it was my difficult childhood, incorrectly diagnosed scoliosis, undiagnosed attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression or possibly, and most likely the most accurate, my deeply pessimistic nature. The emotional and mental scars from childhood carried through to adulthood, with me fighting [...]