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The Person I'm Most Thankful for in Life With Chronic Illness

Being thankful can be really hard when it’s so easy to wallow in my disappointment.

The many ways my life hasn’t measured up to what I had hoped and planned for myself before chronic illness usually rest close to the surface of my mind. I graduated from college, but it took me twice as long as it should have. I was able to major in my degree field of choice, but I had to leave the university I had been attending to find my program in an online format, because of my health.

Not the biggest deal, I know. But things compound. Now I’ve got my degree, but because of my health I can’t consistently work, so I’m not making any money. Lately, my biological clock has been ticking really loudly, but my health problems and their respective prescribed medications make the prospect of growing a human inside of me sketchy at best.

I also lost many of my friends because my chronic illness changed me and limits what I can do for fun. And I learned that some of my relatives don’t really have my back either.

But, listen. As improbable as it seems sometimes – especially when I’m deep in wallow – none of that stuff matters.

My life doesn’t look like everyone else’s, nor has it panned out the way I had planned. And that’s OK.

There’s always something bright to grasp onto.

The feelings of derailment I’ve experienced through my chronic illness journey have actually led me to see what I have to be thankful for. And it’s big.

When I first began experiencing symptoms of my disease, long before any doctor diagnosed or treated me, I could tell something elemental had shifted within my body – that I would never be the same. As my quest for a diagnosis slowly trickled on, I realized I had to tell my boyfriend what I was feeling.

I decided to give him an “out.” I said that I could tell something was very wrong with my health, and that given how difficult it was already proving for doctors to diagnose, I wasn’t optimistic about my future. I told him that I would totally understand if he was unprepared, or unwilling, to deal with my health situation and wanted to leave.

But he stayed.

Ten years after that, we got married.

Of all of the people in my life who treat me like I’m inadequate because of my health, or who make a big deal about how my health limits certain things I do, my husband is never one of them.

He knows what I can and can’t do, and plans our events and excursions accordingly. He knows what I need to help me throughout the day, and makes sure it’s all taken care of.

But most importantly, every day my husband treats me like nothing is “wrong with me” at all, in the best possible way.

And for that, I will be forever thankful.

Getty image by Ahirao Photo.