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What Living With a Chronic Illness Makes Me Appreciate

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Something a lot of my Mighty friends and I often talk about is how the different lives we lead make us savor things more than “normal” people.

A shower, something most people do without thinking each day. It has been years since I was able to take a full shower. A luxury I truly cannot afford, but something I would savor so much. Hot water washing off and away the struggles of life, solving all of life’s problems with the steam making the rest of the world seem far away. Even just washing my face in the warm water is something I would totally consider paying for.

“We always want what we can’t have,” goes the saying, and it is pretty spot-on when it comes to humans. Those who struggle intensely often savor the tiniest of things to keep them looking toward the future. Many things others don’t think twice about, the other side of the population desperately wants. Life is a gift — something I have learned in my tumultuous 25 years.

Living is also a gift. Each second pain-free was a gift, too, and while I thought I savored it, I wish I would have been able to savor it 50,000 times more. I can faintly remember taking showers before school. Running, skipping and even eating without the misery I have to deal with now when I chew and swallow a little bit of a cookie. No longer is a simple treat worth it. Food was the one thing my pain hadn’t touched. I am so glad I savored it when I did.

I daydream about driving just down the block to get the mail or running laps like I did as a teen. The knowledge I have gained over the last eight years since I graduated has almost nothing in common with people my age. So much medical knowledge rattling around in my mind, I half-wish I had a degree to go with it!

We often want what we can’t have, if only we could truly savor what we do have and look inward instead of outward. That is a goal I have had and kept for many years to this day.

Hope for a better future, but no daydreams of a better life to distract from the now as I steer my walker slowly to the kitchen for my one meal of the day. Savoring my ability to choose between breakfast cereal, even as I forget where we keep our bowls that have been in the same cupboard for the past 23 years. Be grateful for each little thing you have. You don’t want to miss it once it is gone.

Unsplash image by Zoe Fernandez

Originally published: April 11, 2021
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