Dear Chronic Illness,
It is hard to believe that our journey together began almost ten years ago. In that time, we have gone through six diagnoses, six surgeries, countless treatments, second and third opinions, and trips to both Duke and Atlanta. Countless tears have been cried from pain, frustration, and anguish. I have been depressed, disheartened, and defeated. At times the pain has been too much to bear. At times I have questioned my own sanity and my own reality of my disease. At times I have wondered if I would be able to carry on another day. I have questioned my doctors, my faith, and myself. To say that the last ten years have been difficult would be an understatement.
This past week marked a big change in my life with illness. I began my extended medical leave from work. I can now add my job to the list of things that chronic illness has taken from me. I think the biggest adjustment has been learning to accept this change mentally. I have always considered myself a driven person. Almost Type A. Definitely a people-pleaser. So making the decision to pursue disability was a difficult one. I felt like I was letting others down. I felt like a quitter. I felt like making this decision was a sign of weakness.
But today, I’ve come to realize that it was really a sign of strength.
I have made the decision to put myself and my family first. For the last several months especially, I have had very little existence outside of work. I would get up, go to work, come home, and go to bed. All of my energy was spent at the office leaving little for my family.
Making the decision to purse disability will allow me to spend my energy where it is needed most – with my family. They need this. I need this.
For the first time in quite a while, I was able to spend a Saturday having a picnic at the park with my family instead of in bed trying to both recover from the previous work week and prepare for the following week. It was very healing – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
So, Chronic Illness, while you continue to bring difficulties into my life, you also continue to teach me. Teaching me what is truly important in life. Teaching me how strong I really am. Teaching me that despite hardships, I can continue to have joy and hope because my Creator still has plans for me.
10 comments on “A Letter to Chronic Illness”
Good for you! I know it’s a tough decision to make, but if something has to give (and with chronic illness something often has to give) it’s far better to be work than your family. You can’t get that time with your family back.
I keep telling myself that this decision doesn’t necessarily mean forever either. One day maybe I will feel like I can work again, even part-time or when Abby is in school. I just know in my heart that I need this time with my family. She is definitely become more aware of my illness and I don’t want all of her memories of her childhood including mom being in bed! Thank you for your support and encouragement!
For sure – nothing is forever! I have gone through periods where I have not been able to work, and at the moment I can work part-time from home. If you are in a situation where working is not imperative, then I strongly believe that the quality of time with your family will be greatly improved by taking a break. The working world will always be there later if you are able to do it!
I was where you are now about 12 years ago, Jamee. I used to say that I could juggle 5 balls at the same time and be looking for the 6th, but these days all I can handle is one at a time — and sometimes that one is too much. I like what Jane said above: if something has to give it’s far better to be work than your family. Amen!
Hang in there and enjoy the time with your family, especially that precious little girly girl.
Thank you so much for your words of encouragement! The support I have been given over the last couple days have really made me feel stronger about my decision. Abby has been sick the last two days and I am glad that I have been able to be at home with her!
Nice post. And thank you for posting this. I am struggling with the fact that my own choice about employment will come up sooner rather than later in life. I have found that it is often letting go that takes more courage than holding on to something that God has asked us to let go of. I know I will someday need to go down to part time work, even with no children. I just sense it will be asked of me someday. And it will take a lot of courage to do so.
In the last couple days I have definitely felt more at peace with the decision. The kind words of your comment and others have really given me strength and I feel like a weight has been lifted! I have actually been able to start eating some again! I don’t think I realized just how stressed out I was about it. God is good and grants peace when we have the courage to let Him take control!
This is a great post! I love the pictures, especially the ones with your girl. My favorite part of your letter is your declaration that chronic illness continues to teach you things. I am sure pursuing disability must be a very difficult step and you have my prayers as you face this emotional challenge head on. You are right, though – family is the best medicine.
(My own letter is at http://rollerskatingwithrickets.com/2013/04/06/hawmc-day-6-letters/. I was born with a genetic disease called cystinosis.)
I feel like with chronic illness I have two choices – I can either let it make me bitter and shut down or I can choose to learn from it and find a way to honor God through it!
I LOVE THIS AND AM SERIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT STARTING A BLOG WOULD IT BE OKAY IF I BORROWED THIS–I WOULD GIVE YOU CREDIT AND I WOULD TWEAH IT A LITTLE TO FIT MY SITUATION?