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The Constant 'New Normals' of Life With Chronic Illness

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I sat in a running shower fully dressed, gasping for air in desperate need of my supplemental oxygen, rubbing my giant, smelly dog with baby shampoo, praying that this would be enough to get rid of his horrible smell. I couldn’t help but pause, chuckle and say between struggled breaths, “What a glamorous life I lead.”

For a lot of people, 2020 was the first year of adjusting to “new normals.” But when you live with chronic and/or life-threatening illness, new normals — constantly evolving new normals — become part of the routine. Your body — cut, bruised, scarred, starved or swollen — becomes something you don’t recognize. The easiest of activities suddenly become the biggest of struggles.

Masks, medical equipment, sanitation and isolation become part of the ABCs of survival. You adapt. You constantly adapt to an ever-changing body and continually progressing, aggravating, and sometimes honestly soul-destroying disease. Because the world isn’t going to stop — even when it seems like your life is in pause.

Illness is often viewed as weak. I often view myself as weak because of it. But when you see someone with a chronic illness, you should know they have the strength to move forward even when 10,000,000 pound weights are tied to each foot.

So my chronically ill / life-threateningly ill friends, continue to have dance parties while filling your pill calendar or using your nebulizer. And know it’s OK to break down as much as you need from the weight of it all. Your worth is not based on your strength, or your ability to suffer beautifully. You have infinite, irreplaceable, non-interchangeable worth, just by being you.

Getty image by Lightfield Studios.

Originally published: January 27, 2021
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