This Thanksgiving, I Am Grateful for My Journey With Chronic Illness

I had lofty ideas of what I wanted to write about today. I suppose I still like to think of myself as Sam on the West Wing, with a sharp wit and a powerful tongue that can whip up the best verbiage in a moment’s notice! Afterall, I was a professional writer before the traumatic brain injury that changed my life in 2011. I still have the talent in there somewhere, but accessing it isn’t always easy…especially on a day I am not feeling well.

I don’t know why I am not as sharp as I would like to be today – it could be the weather, over-exertion, a migraine or even medication changes (there have been a lot of adjustments as a result of my most recent flare). The truth is that I have no idea why I have brain fog today. I am simply aware that this is the contraction that accompanies expansion. Yesterday was a great day. I felt normal for the first time in a while, as I prepared mashed potatoes with my daughter for the very first time in anticipation of our Thanksgiving Feast! By bedtime, however, I felt a crawling in my skin and tingling in my legs. Did I overdo it? I don’t know. The only certainty at this moment is that rest is required. And although I have so much I want to express in writing, that’s not going to happen today. Perhaps I will paint my thoughts instead, as the language of color allows me to communicate when I am at a loss for words.

As I sit here, though, I am aware of a simple feeling that can so easily be expressed on this Thanksgiving… I am climbing back from an acute flare of an undiagnosed chronic illness combined with adrenal insufficiency and hypopituitarism, and I am deeply grateful.  I have come so far since this episode began in August. Even as I feel uncomfortable and fatigued today, I am filled with gratitude that that the acute pain has remained at bay (we weren’t sure it would hold as I peeled back the acute medications), that I was able to drive down to see my horse today (a huge accomplishment), that I felt normal for a little while yesterday (yes! normal!), that I am making huge progress (no matter how slow) and I am home with my loving family (so much laughter in this house).

woman smiling with her horse

Chronic illness brings life into perspective. As I continue to walk this healing journey, the rough patches help me to simplify the list of that which will make me “happy.” The result? I feel an almost continuous happiness and contentment even in the midst of struggle. My root of gratitude runs deep. This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the journey.

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

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

Related to Undiagnosed

ship during a storm at sea

How Being Undiagnosed Is Like Captaining a Ship Lost at Sea

When you are the captain of your own ship… You leave the dock and head into uncharted territory with crewmen and women who are going to help you navigate the rough waters… but slowly, one by one on the journey, they board a lifeboat… and leave you all alone. All alone as you stop in 37 different ports, desperately [...]
Illustration of doctor using stethoscope to listen to heart of young patient sitting on his mother's lap

A Diagnosis for My Son Does Matter

Time and time again, my son’s doctors look at me and say, “It doesn’t change a thing, having a diagnosis.” They mean having a diagnosis doesn’t change our treatment plan: all the therapies, the services, all the things I do with — and for — my son Roland at home. I nod, because they are [...]

How I Manage My Chronic Pain – With and Without Medication

Editor’s note: The following is based on an individual’s experience and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before going on or off medication. I am one of millions of people who have chronic pain. My chronic pain is centralized in my lower back, but is oftentimes widespread. Occasionally, my body locks up and [...]
A shadow of a person.

When Your Condition Continues to Be Undiagnosed

Just to have a diagnosis, you’d accept even the worst titles. You dream there will some day be a label for the madness eating away at your body and your life. You want to scream when test after test returns normal, every appointment ends without answers, and you wonder how much longer your body will [...]