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How Creating Silver Linings Has Helped Me Cope With Chronic Illness

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The phone rings in my classroom; my fourth grade teacher says it’s the front office asking for me, Tatiana Capote, to come to the front office with my belongings. Do you know what that means? All fourth grade me could focus on was, “I’m leaving school early!” I packed all my baby blue Hello Kitty school supplies into my matching Hello Kitty backpack and scurried down to the office. Some of the other kids wondered why I was so happy and questioned where I was going, but I didn’t have time to stop and explain my afternoon plans to my peers.

On my way to the office it dawned on me that I wasn’t just getting out of school early – I was actually going to the hospital to get an infusion. Even from an early age, I have always hated needles, and at 10 years old I hated them even more. I knew what the infusion consisted of, I knew I would be pricked and obligated to stay in the hospital for a few hours. I thought to myself, “But none of the other kids have to deal with this…” I shook the thought and instead focused on the fun that awaited me instead.

You see, as dreadful as the infusions may have been, my parents successfully turned them into something to look forward to – a silver lining. At the front office, I saw my best friend with my mom waiting for me, and I greeted her with a giant hug. My mom gave me a big smile, and I saw her eyes full of hope. She knew the importance and the benefits of these infusions; she knew it was for my own health and good.

Before I knew it, we were at my favorite place: Target! We made a beeline straight for the craft aisle. At that time, my 10-year-old brain forgot about everything in the world and only saw tea sets to be painted, headbands to be made, totes to be decorated, blank canvases to be painted and so many other crafts that must go home with me! I pointed out a few to my mom, and we finally settled on a choice: a tea party set to be painted! On our way to the register, she let me pick a candy bar and some other snacks. At this point, I was grinning from ear to ear. I am spending the rest of the day crafting and snacking and hanging out with my bestie! How could I not be happy?

We checked into the hospital, and they assigned me to a small room. Once settled in the room, I laid down and waited for the nurse to come with that giant needle I had been dreading all day in the back of my mind. At that point, I just wanted the infusion to start so I could start working on what was going to be my next masterpiece. We said a prayer while that needle was inserted, and soon enough my treatment had begun. You know what that means – time to paint!

I’ll never forget the image I have of myself lying in a hospital bed as a child, hooked up to a machine. It’s an image I’m sure my parents won’t forget either. But we also won’t forget that that same child was laughing, happily painting, snacking and bonding with her bestie and her mom, just having fun. It’s moments like this from my childhood that make me so grateful for the parents I have. I believe those infusion days stand out in my mind because there was a lesson in it all. We couldn’t remove the obstacles in my path, and sometimes it was hard to find a silver living in it all. However, whenever we couldn’t find a silver lining, we created one! Infusion days were sad and scary for me. We created a silver lining and suddenly I looked forward to infusion days. It wasn’t infusion day anymore, it was a fun day spent with my mom that so happened to be at the same time I would get my infusion.

My parents continued creating silver linings throughout my life with visits to the park, getting ice cream or doing something silly, like the whole family having breakfast for dinner (I found that to be hysterical as a kid). I’ve embraced this mentality of creating silver linings, and have carried it with me ever since. I still try to find or create my own silver lining in everything I do to this day. So what silver linings are you going to create next?

Getty Image by Kseniya Guschina

Originally published: September 6, 2018
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