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.