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The Epiphany I Had About My Life with Chronic Illness

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I had a major epiphany while driving home from work the other day. You see, I have spent so much time, money, and effort into healing my chronic illness. I go to acupuncture and chiropractic therapy. I use my TENS nerve stimulation machine and ice packs daily. I see a therapist and work closely with my doctor. I faithfully take my medications and supplements, exercise as I’m able, and eat a very healthy, balanced diet. I am constantly researching the newest medications, therapies, and lifestyle remedies, looking for the next thing to add to my daily regime. I thought, up until my epiphany the other day, there was literally nothing left in my power to do to work toward autoimmune disease relief or remission.

Then I realized that I have never — no, not once — given myself permission to accept chronic illness as part of my life. In fact, I have done all I can to fight against it. Like a soldier on the front line of battle, I have fought desperately for years to change my situation. I have been hyper-focused on my goal of total health restoration.

But on my drive home the other day, I thought, “Al, what if you stop fighting this? What if you let it go, and let it be?” My initial reaction to these thoughts was fear: “If I stop fighting, doesn’t that mean giving up? Won’t I be undoing all of the progress I have made? Will the 63 pounds I have worked so hard for three years to lose come back? If I don’t fight for myself, who will?”

The anxiety hit at that point, and I started to panic. But the original thought came to me once again, penetrating the panic: What if I gave myself permission to accept chronic illness as part of my life? For years, I have told myself that I’ll accept having spent years with chronic illness when I’m completely healthy again.

Now, I’m realizing, acceptance of my situation doesn’t mean giving up or giving in. Acceptance doesn’t mean that all the trauma my body has experienced over the last decade is OK. Acceptance doesn’t mean that the negligent acts of other people, which greatly contributed to my situation, are all right. In simple terms, acceptance means a greater sense of peace. And I could really use that. I am not giving up. I am not giving in. I am being.

Acceptance is the newest tool in my health toolbox, and I plan to embrace it wholeheartedly.

Originally published: July 27, 2016
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