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If Chronic Illness Could Speak, Here's What It Might Say

The most helpful emails in health
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My beautiful chronic apologizer,

I know your symptoms have been wreaking havoc on every aspect of your life, so you’re left drained. Life seems to have lost all of its vibrancy. You feel yourself slipping into the haven of silence as your hip dislocates for the millionth time today. I know you’re not intentionally ignoring everyone in the room. It’s just difficult to think when the pain swoops in and shrouds you in darkness.

I’ve heard you say you’re sorry for all the moments exhaustion dominated in the midst of dressing for a date you’ve looked forward to all week. But then, you find you’re too weak to cover the dark circles under your eyes. You cancel, again, searching for a way to explain the barrage of circumstances your chronic illness throws against you. Another call. Another lie. “Hhhey, I’m sss so sssorry, but something came up. Can wwwe reschedule?” Dammit, there’s the stutter. You knew their thoughts before the words stumbled their way from your lips. You’re not a flake. You weren’t always this way. I can only imagine how much you really wanted to go out. It’s been a while since you embraced life with the vigor as every other 20-something-year-old.


Oops, there goes another shattered dish thanks to the endless tremors rolling from earthquakes that take over your once graceful fingers. Hands which could make us vanish to faraway lands with melodic notes as they aimlessly roamed an ebony and ivory road.

“ Cccaaaannn, you say that again? My hearing aids are on the highest setting and I still can’t hear you.”

“I hate to do this, but can you reach that cup for me? My wheelchair won’t let me get close enough to the counter to grab it myself.”

What I want to say is I’m sorry you have to deal with me. That I’m an inconvenience.

Sound familiar? My friend, I’m sorry you feel you are an inconvenience.
Your existence is not some cosmic happenstance of misery. Refuse to apologize for your illness. Refuse to apologize for your life. But before the world can accept and truly see past your disability, you have to take a closer look at your reflection.

You are a vital thread in the fabric our lives weave. In our most vulnerable moments, you’re a warrior fighting an invisible enemy in a war you were unfairly drafted. You’ve encountered lessons most won’t face in their lifetime. See, my disease has shown me, regardless of what life may conjure, perseverance is within my grasp. The bonds of society’s concept of normal no longer entangle you. You’re blessed with wisdom well beyond your years. You’ve been gifted a compassionate heart capable of reaching into the abyss to stand by our marginalized community unashamed.

You are still every ounce of the person you were before I came into your life.


Chronic Illness

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Thinkstock photo via vladwel.

Originally published: September 27, 2017
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