Y’all know by now that I am always searching for the silver lining of living with a chronic illness. I know that it’s easy to focus on the negative… because they are a TON of negatives. But, if you take a minute and really look at your experiences you will see that you may be missing out on some of the unintended beautiful moments. Here are the top five of the
10 BEST THINGS ABOUT LIVING WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS
- Handicap Parking – I mean, this should speak for itself. I get to park for FREE in metered spots with NO time limits. It’s by far the best perk of this wretched disease. While I feel ‘normal’ some days, I have plenty of hard days when I am beyond exhausted and it’s a life saver. Not going to lie, I’ve utilized the free parking one or two (thousand) times. The only downside is the judgements of people who can’t ‘see’ my disease and assume I am abusing the privilege. But, as my therapist said, “What others think of me is none of my business”.
- Healthy Diet – In order to keep myself ‘healthy’ I’m required to monitor my diet closely and eat well, or at least the dialysis version of that. By following the strict dialysis diet rules- LOW Potassium, LOW Sodium, LOW phosphorus, LOTS of protein, LIMIT fluid intake (FYI- diet recommendations vary from patient to patient, these happen to be best for ME! If you are on dialysis or have CKD you should talk to your dietician and follow guidelines that fit YOUR own body)- it allows me to avoid trips to the hospital and keeps my dialysis regimen steady. This may be an overshare, but when my second transplanted kidney called it quits in 2006 I stopped producing urine, so I have to be very careful with how much liquid I consume because the only way to get it off fluid is through dialysis and taking too much fluid off at once can cause it’s own set of issues (Low blood pressure, fatigue, tachycardia- resting heart rate over 100 beats per minute, etc…). If I want to stay feeling healthy I have to eat right, and I have said the best/worst part of the diet is not being able to eat potatoes. NO french fries for me, but you know what helps keep weight off… NO FRENCH FRIES!
- Limited Hair Growth – A short term benefit of the disease during college was that I stopped growing hair. Not a great example since I was really very sick at the time. But let me tell you what, not needing to shave my armpits because the hair just STOPPED growing was a pretty awesome benefit.
- Strong friendships – I have grown my friendships and reached a deeper level with those I am close to because being sick, in the hospital, and not always able to ‘hang’ I am able to easily weed out the surface level friendships while strengthening the deeper ones. What I have ended up with is a tight crew who I know love me, support me and will always be by my side when I need them.
- Family – One thing that will always stand out as the VERY best thing to come from this disease has been the close relationship I’ve developed with my mom. We’ve been afforded time together that most people never get. Normally as an adult you leave home. Go off and do your own thing. For me though, as an adult I have had to stay close to home and live with my mom and step-dad for years in order to get the support I need and have someone nearby in case I fell ill at anytime. My mom has also ALWAYS been by my side in the hospital. When you have spent as many hours in hospitals as we have you learn to entertain each other and just enjoy each others company (when I’m not starving and a total nag). I can’t talk about family without mentioning my Dad. Once your parent has literally given you their kidney to try and save your life it creates a unique bond between you that can never be broken or duplicated.
Check back next week for the remainder of the list!