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10 Things I Didn't Appreciate Until I Became Chronically Ill

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There are many things in life we grumble about and consider as chores or annoyances. I would say that the blessing and scourge of the 21st century is convenience — fast food and deliveries, speedy transport, immediate online purchases, etc. I think it has never been easier to obtain our material end goals.

With the increased ease in lifestyle, I feel we often forget that it can also be a blessing to labor. I am sure many people work very hard in their various careers and I am not discounting those efforts one bit, but the kind of work I would like to speak about today is around a manual theme.

Here are some abilities I possess but never stopped to consider or appreciate, until they were taken away from me due to my illnesses.

I am grateful I can…

1. Choose to walk up a flight of stairs, because it means my joints are able to bend and are not aching with too much pain today.

2. Work overtime even if it’s not a happy thing to do, because it means my body is strong enough to handle the extra stress and fatigue levels, and that I am sitting at a work desk instead of lying in a hospital bed.

3. Cry when I’m in pain or filled with sadness, because it means my tear ducts have not dried out from the effects of Sjögren’s syndrome, where I lose my ability to produce any tears. “Dry crying” does not bring me relief, it only doubles the misery.

4. Complain of boredom, because it means I am not in a state of pain or discomfort.

5. Make my own dinner after a long day, because it means I still have a drop of energy left to feed myself something better than a crappy just-fill-me-up bite for dinner, which does even more harm to my body.

6. Eat, because it means I am not feeling nauseous to the point where the sight or thought of food induces vomiting. And also for the fact that I am not being denied food for several days while stuck in a hospital bed.

7. Suffer the pain of regular period cramps, because it means my female body clock is still working despite the interference of medications and surgeries.

8. Do household chores or exercise until it aches, because it means the pain in my joints and muscles are well behaved today and my fatigue levels are at bay. It is a treat to be able to swap a bad ache for a good one!

9. Fall asleep at night without the aid of anti-anxiety tablets or steroids, because it means the psychological or inflammatory pains that rise with nature’s evening schedule have not steered out of control.

10. Smile, not because of anything I have done, but from the acts of kindness and generosity my loved ones have showered me with, and because there is something beautiful left in the world, always.

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Originally published: May 13, 2016
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