The Blessings of Chronic Illness?


At the time of this writing, it is a few weeks before Thanksgiving in the US. Each day, I must fight an overwhelming array of symptoms caused by Sjogren’s syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic myofascial pain, hypothyroidism, diabetes, celiac disease, gastroparesis and periodic limb movement disorder. I am learning to cope with new medication that is fraught with unpleasant side effects. I am in the midst of the disability application process and have no income. And yet, I know that I am blessed, without question. How can this be?

First of all, I have acquired a perspective about myself that not many healthy people have. Many people are so caught up in the comings and goings of the day that they don’t realize just how wonderful it is that they are able to get out of bed, complete their tasks without pain, remain focused and alert as necessary, eat what they want- when they want, and sleep deeply when their day is complete. But most chronically ill people no longer take these things for granted. And we may in fact through our social interactions know people who are even sicker than we are. So while it is unfortunate that there are limits to my functioning, I know it could be much worse and I am grateful that it is not. I can fully appreciate my good fortune at being able to get out of bed most days. I can celebrate that while my digestive system is in a shambles, my heart, kidneys and liver are all just fine and are serving me well. I choose to be happy about what works and do the best I can with what doesn’t.
There are times that chronic illness forces an independent person to ask for and accept assistance. I was one of those independent people. At first, I was ashamed that I couldn’t open a door, carry heavy bags or open a package. But then I realized that some people enjoyed helping me out and feeling useful. So now I graciously accept help with a smile.
A few weeks ago, I was stranded on the curbside of an unfamiliar airport when my ride left before I discovered that there was no curbside service for my airline. The agent for a competing airline was unwilling to help me, and I was stuck in a wheelchair trying to figure out how to drag my suitcase and propel my chair indoors at the same time. Luckily, a fellow traveller saw my predicament and graciously offered to pull my suitcase alongside hers to the ticket window. And after I headed to security screening, another traveller noticed how slowly I was moving my wheelchair and offered to push me. He stayed with me through the whole screening process and got me to my gate. Neither of these people had to help me, and I was amazed that they were so willing to go out of their way for a complete stranger when they had places to be. These are just two examples of how blessed I am.
I am also blessed with people who are not strangers who make my life easier. A few days ago, a friend came to my house with a couple of movies on DVD because she knew I was too sick to go to the theatre. And even though I’m not a good cook, she didn’t mind eating at my house because I didn’t have the energy to go out to eat. We watched Harry Potter to our hearts’ content and had as good a time as if we had gone out. I know a lot of people with chronic illness lose friends because they can no longer do social things outside the home. But the best friends find other ways to be entertained.
Not all of our friends have to be human. One of my best buddies is Chip, the world’s most spoiled English springer spaniel. He’s actually delighted that I can no longer work because that means I can spend more time with him. He’s unusually empathetic even for a dog. He knows when I’m in pain, and he’ll come over wearing his best “I’m sorry” face and give me a kiss. He seems to have forgiven me for no longer being able to walk him. Sometimes when I’m having a hard time, Chip will come up to me and lean on me gently, his way of giving me a hug.
I am blessed to have found a place of worship where I am comfortable and where I am accepted. The temptation can be great for those with chronic illness to believe that they have been cursed with their particular ailment or ailments, that their creator is punishing them, that they must have done something to deserve being sick. But my place of worship encourages me to find my place in the world, no matter what my circumstances are, and that is important to me.
It has taken me years, but I have managed to find a team of good doctors to treat my ailments. It helps that I live in a major metropolitan area with lots of choices in medical care. I’ve been able to get second opinions on the diagnoses/treatments, appropriate testing, and most importantly, doctors who believed the extent of my invisible ailments. Probably everyone reading this knows the frustration of going to a doctor who tells you that you aren’t really in pain or that you must be exaggerating the fatigue you feel. I had that experience several times too, but I had the opportunity to find competent doctors to replace the ineffectual ones.
Probably the biggest blessing in my life is my husband. Truly supportive spouses are probably not in the majority. But my husband, in addition to working full time, willingly does all the housecleaning, laundry and yard work and walking Chip because he knows if I tried it, I’d be in tears from pain. He pushes me in my wheelchair so I can go places that usually require a lot of walking. A couple of months ago, he took me to the zoo and pushed my chair for three hours while I took photos of the animals. He drives me to appointments and shops for me. He spoils me. All I can offer him is my eternal gratitude, which, fortunately, seems to be enough.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of online support. Thanks to the wonders available via computer, I can still be useful and productive. I can teach others about chronic illness, console someone recently diagnosed, commiserate with someone about the daily aggravations of fibromyalgia and occasionally even cheer someone up. If that isn’t a blessing, I don’t know what is.
Written by Karen Brauer

  • I really loved this article. I needed it. It really touched my heart. I hope everyone out there that has some one in their family with a chronic illness or knows some one with one, will read this article and also, read between the lines. 🙂

  • Jennifer

    My daughter is only 23 months old and like yourself, has also been battling Gastroparesis. Some days are better than others, but as a mommy watching your baby suffer in the way she does it is just torturous to my soul. I have been going out of my way trying to get my daughter the best care possible as she is really sick right now, cant keep anything down, losing weight, in pain on a daily basis and this has been going on since August… a so-called friend of mine was asking me about my baby’s condition yesterday and when I explained that there is no cure for GP her response was “this day in age? are you sure? that doesn’t sound right.” I just broke down and cried. People do not realize how hurtful those comments are. I would love more than anything for there to be a cure all for this… but there is not. And if one more person says “but she is so beautiful and perfect and she doesn’t look sick at all”… since when does being sick have a look attached to it? I am so glad I have found this site. I hate the fact that all of you are dealing with these situations, but it does make me feel a little better that we are not alone in this. It is a bit scary though, as I am yet to find someone else with a baby dealing with this terrible condition so I am worried about the quality of life my daughters future holds. My prayers are with you all! Hopefully through this site we can be the support system we all need!

  • This has really made me stop and think, stop and count my blessings. I have been dx with FMS/CFS, and some days I feel so sorry for myself, but you have made me relize I am not that bad off, there are others who are worse than I am, and some days I don’t feel too bad. I do wish more people in my life could/would understand and want to help. This has made me think about the blessings in all this…Thank you for writing this.

  • Although I am not in a wheelchair, I totally relate and could have written the rest myself. Well done. Thank you for sharing and many blessings to you. Sharing the journey helps and unites us. I too am blessed <3

  • You are so blessed. When I became disabled from systemic lupus plus all the other illnesses spawned from this horrible disease, my friends left. All of my family, including parents, only sibling, grandparents, uncles, aunts, are dead. I have one friend…and she’s the only person who helps me. When I am in the hospital, she’s the only one who visits me. When I need to go to the hospital, ER, doctor or grocery, she takes me. She works full time and comes by only a couple of days a week so I’m alone 90% of the time. Believe me, lupus has been harsh.

    I’m 49, alone, and find it hard to fight some days. Be thankful for those friends. Yours is an uncommon story.

  • While I have to deal with Type 1 diabetes, gastroparesis and esophageal motility issues which have left me on only able to eat liquid/puree/soft foods I am thankful for everyday that I get to watch my son grow up. Do I feel mad/sad/resentful/lonely most days…yes but I try to think of the alternative of not being alive. I wish I could be “normal” eventhough to most I don’t look sick. I wish I had more energy and could eat like a normal person and did not have to take 6 shot per day. However, a friend of mine lost their son last year to cancer and he was my age 42 with two young kids, this gets me through each day.
    Wishing everyone good health!!!

  • Kim

    Your story is truly beautiful and inspiring. I have had lupus since the second grade and was luckily able to avoid organ involvement up until last year. Of course I had to develop it right in the middle of college, just another challenge on my plate to deal with, but I know I’ll get through it. At least now that they found that my years of eating problems was coming from my colon (had to get really bad though for them to find it) I am on medication for it and I can eat again without constant nausea and stomach cramps as soon as I start eating.

    I think that the blessing I received from being diagnosed so young is that I am kinder, caring, giving, responsible, and I suppose a little more brave when it comes to doctors and tests. I also had the chance to go to Camp JRA, a camp for kids with rheumatic diseases, where I met many wonderful people that I would not have met otherwise. I don’t know where I’d be without that camp.

    I learned at a young age to look at the bright side of things and can only remember one time of really feeling depressed after one of my friends was killed in a car accident between semesters of my freshman year at college, my aunt developed cancer and died during the spring semester, my roommate did anything she could to make me miserable that I finally moved out, I overloaded my schedule, and had a teacher that played favorites and I had made the mistake of arguing with him. My memory is really giving me trouble now, but I can remember clearly how I felt during that time. Since then things have gotten much better including getting a wonderful roommate completely by chance and I just won a scholarship for people with lupus.

    I have had many ups and downs this semester and it seems that whenever I really need a boost I get at least a little one to cheer me up again. Between my friends and my dreams, I will never give up and I love reading inspirational stories such as yours.

    Thank you

  • heather morgan

    your post and website are great, i discovered them a few weeks ago and so glad i did. i was thinking the same thing a few months ago when i turned 40, trying to think of 40 reasons to love sarcoidosis. i was diagnosed with sarcoid in my lungs and brain about a year ago. it has been an interesting journey, but i do count my blessings as well! sarcoid has made me a stronger, better person and really, i am thankful for it. thanks for being positive, and hopefully someday, we will all have a miracle and be cured! until then, here’s looking at half-ful glasses all around!

  • Fran

    I feel sad in one way because I cant do what i used to do – 3 jobs 3 kids a husband and a house but Im happier now because now I can actually say to people – sorry I dont need or want this b$llsh@t now kindly go away and leave me alone !!!

    Now I can do what I want to do – rather than feel I have to do and can take on only what i want to not whats expected of me – poorer, iller, but happier with a better knowledge of myself !!

  • Joanna

    I love the look on peoples faces when I say Fibromyalgia was a blessing. I was a workaholic, work always came first. Now, I enjoy relationships so much more. Visiting with my 86 year old father frequently is simply something I would have never found the time to do. It is in my pespective of my condition. Not that I don’t have days of pity parties, and lots of days bed is the only answer, but after 12 years of this learning experience I force myself to be grateful for what I have and what this disease is teaching me.


  • Jan K

    Your article clearly expresses what it is like with multiple disabilities. At the beginning of all the bewildering stuff going on it is truly difficult to count blessings. Then as time goes by it becomes easier…sometimes.

    After being disappointed that total healing has not come after repeated prayers, I finally said, “Okay, there has to be something in this for me to learn. Or maybe many things.” I didn’t quit asking. That will probably continue forever. What has happened is that I started looking at ways to manage pain and discomfort not only in my body but in my attitude. Things like Reiki, meditation, more prayer in different forms, relaxation. They have helped me cope. And I think that is something we as Spoonies are looking for, a way to cope with the dis-eases of our lives. (Sounds like a soap opera. LOL)

    And through those ways to cope came peace and serenity even in the midst of pain killers and doctor appointments. Even in the midst of the roller coast ride that never seems to stop.

    My spouse has also helped. He has health issues as well but he is always there if I need something as I am for him.

    Begin grateful is not something that happens overnight. But as the saying goes, “Hope springs eternal.” This Thanksgiving I am continually learning to have an attitude of gratitude even on the days I don’t feel that way. Thinking gratitude, the action eventually comes as well.

    I appreciate so much But You Don’t Look Sick.

  • Dottie Balin

    Thank you Karen, for writing this article. You are truly an inspiration to us all. I also have Fibro, Lupus, MS, hypothyroidism, diabetes, etc. I also know how you feel. I really love that line that you said, ” I can celebrate that while my digestive system is in a shambles, my heart, kidneys and liver are all just fine and are serving me well. I choose to be happy about what works and do the best I can with what doesn’t.” Your story is so true. Keep up the good work, and remember we are all there for you. We are truly Blessed !!! Thanks 🙂

  • What a testament to the blessings in your life and your own personal strength. So often people look at what they don’t have in life instead of seeing the glass as half full. I applaud you and will continue to read your blog. We warriors need to stick together!

  • Stephanie

    I told a doctor the other year while running through my ailments and their interrelatedness as well as my workout, volunteer and artistic work. No, I rarely look sick, hide limps, manage through headaches; I know where every bathroom in town and in general is. I am the healthiest LOOKING sick person around. And, much of it is forced or faked. As someone with Celiac whose sister invited over and then had her cook make lasagna and flour dredged meat, I can tell you that not even family understands or cares. We have to take it out of the closet and talk about these illnesses openly and medically. Having celiac, IBS, IBD, food allergy, or any other “invisible” condition, disease, or syndrome is not something we do to be pains in the butt, to get attention, to make life hard for you, to spread a political agenda or any other reason than certain foods make me sick in ways a healthy person can’t imagine.

    Thanks for writing this up. I applaud your positive outlook!

  • westomoon

    I read and enjoyed this piece this morning, but hadn’t planned on commenting. But a small event but striking incident occurred afterwards, so here I am.

    I became a “spoonie” courtesy of lupus many years ago, but am still wrestling with acceptance and self-forgiveness. It has begun dawning on me in the past few years that losing capabilities is like getting old — there are lessons that can’t be learned any other way. So I’ve been slowly getting better at gratitude, and at paying attention.

    To answer the comment above — I’ve been on my own through my whole decline, and find that suits me very well. I am on disability, and to make that work had to move to a cheaper, less stressful part of the country — something I’m grateful for on a daily basis. A bigger chunk of my limited budget goes to purchasing services, but it works out okay, and my house cleaner and garden guy have both become close and helpful friends.

    I get my mail at a PO box, so today want to town to pick it up. All the minor things I had ordered over the past 2 weeks arrived at once, and made a big, awkward pile of boxes that made it almost impossible for me to walk — something I hate, which hurts, embarrasses me, and makes me instantly crabby.

    So I started lurching crabbily out to my car. Two perfect strangers rushed to open the door for me, and the woman who got there second then took half my parcels for me, walked me to my car, held all the bundles while I got the trunk opened, and made friends with my dogs. I thanked her, and told she had made all the difference in the world.

    I’m still not really reconciled to the decrease in independence that has come from my illness. If I hadn’t read this article, and all the comments, this morning, I’m not sure I would have recognized all this kindness as the lovely gift it was. So thanks!

  • Jenna Benedict

    You made me cry. That was beautiful. 🙂

  • Christine Johnson

    Thank you Karen!!
    Very well said! I love how u choose to focus on the blessings in life- it is the only way to live 🙂
    (((pain-free Internet hugs))) to u my friend <3

  • Renee

    What a great article! You have articulated exactly how I feel. I have multiple auto-immune disorders, too. It has definitely made me more sensitive to other people’s health issues – not dismissive of how they feel. I, too, have a Springer Spaniel, and he is the best! When I feel bad and am in bed, he lies down on the floor next to me to comfort me. My Miniature Schnauzer hops up on the bed and curls up next to me. I am blessed to have friends who make allowances for me and who don’t make me feel guilty about it. I was a very independent person, who relied on no one for anything until I got sick. I was also very dependable and reliable. Now, I have lost all of that, but I have gained much more than I lost.

  • Karen,

    My Patty has Lupus. We went to Fort Lauderdale this past weekend for a family reunion. She is having many tests right now to figure out what is going on. Make a long story short, we ended up in the hospital for the better part of two days. From that point on, she was wheel chair bound. When we got to the airport, there was plenty of assistance from U.S. Air attendants, i.e., getting us through security, to the gate, and on to the plane. When we landed, we had a wheel chair waiting, golf cart to the entrance, and another attendant wheeling her to the curb where I picked her up after retrieving the car from long term parking. Total tips, when accepted, was probably around $20.00. So, next time you are at an airport, know there is help, not only from strangers as you so graciously related, but from the airline too. I am amazed that the airline did not help you. Understand your pain as a caregiver. God bless and continue to reach out. There is a great spirit within and around you.

  • WOW. Beautiful and well-written. I think it is easy to get stuck in a rut in relation to “chronic illness”. So many changes, but your article and others comments inspire me to keep it movin. It makes me take account of all the blessings that have been given to me each and everyday. It inspires me to embrace what I can still do!!. Not being able to work can damper your self-esteem, but I forget that I can make and am making a difference in people’s lives by doing “little things”. That’s what matters in the end anyway. Thank you for this article!!

  • Pam

    I try to count my blessings every day, but it doesn’t always work. I can see through the responses to this beautifully written article that I’m not alone in my aloneness. Every post made by someone who is coping well, has a caring spouse. Those made by someone not coping well doesn’t.
    Many of us have family and/or friends who either do not understand that we need help (even when we ask for it) or are just not willing to help. We have to figure out how to accompish things that need done on our own.
    Life is very hard for me, but I’ve figured out ways to accomplish what needs done and ignore the dust.

  • phyllis touchstone

    beautifully said! MS, lupus . type 2 diabetes, Hashimoto’s syndrome, RA………all of the friend issues, maybe the most painful thing, still i am blessed. why me? NO! why NOT me?! i am a better person WITH all my diseases and disabilities that come with them than i was before.
    so many opportunities to put away prideful ways and learn to be a better person.
    blessed to have a strong faith and belief in a God who cares, and also a husband who sticks with me and works a full day and comes home to continue with laundry and other household chores. he comes home to meals prepared in crock pots if at.
    yes, i am blessed.
    thanks for reminding me how much with your letter.


  • Kim

    Karen, you are truly an inspiration. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  • Kerry Newnham

    Hw abt ppl who’s suffering so bad, lives so destroyed they Cdt possibly fl “blessed” ! Just as long as the writer isn’t, God is good  eh?

  • Nicki

    I have fibro and many other of the conditions mentioned. I had to give up teaching this year after 15 years. Teaching is and remains my passion. I just can’t keep up with the increasing demands placed on teachers these days. I have seached and searched for employment that will make the best use of my skills. CFS mentioned a new career from bed. Do you mind letting me know what that might be? I am always looking for new ideas to maintain my independence.

  • Mama Bates

    Thank you so much Karen for your eloquent, precise words. Living with a chronic illness is not only difficult but cuts you to your very being. You captured how it feels to be “us”. And what a perfect time for you to express this during the Thanksgiving month.

    Thanks for making me remember what I do have and not what I don’t. Even though you did make me cry :0)

  • Susan

    I have Lupus, Sjogren’s, and Fibromyalgia, along with a host of other chronic illnesses. I have difficulty walking due to neuralgia parastheica and an arthritic hip. I used to teach sixth grade in an inner-city public school. I now teach sixth grade in a Hebrew school. However, I have many blessings. One of them has been to show my students (in both schools), that people with chronic illnesses may not be able to do everything that they can, but can adjust their lives, and find other abilities. They have told me that they look at disabled people differently. And, they have told me that they see that if you cannot achieve your dream for one reason or another, you just need to adjust the dream! I may never have thought I’d be teaching this particular lesson, but here we are. If nothing else positive comes from my illnesses, this is enough for me.

  • Thanks so much for writing this. I love your site because it validates what so many of us, with chronic illnesses, feel and face everyday. I have faced so many losses with my hearing, vision, and balance (Cogan’s Syndrome), that sometimes it’s a challenge to find a blessing in my day. This article has helped me to put it into perspective. Thanks!

  • The friends are gone, the husband’s gone, the job is gone, the church is gone because the minister made sure everyone knew I wasn’t sick, just lazy, and therefore deserved no compassion.

    And, frankly, I’m better off without the husband, who made more work for me than he took off my hands, and the “friends”, who were only interested in what they could get from me and when I could no longer afford to buy them gifts, there was nothing in it for them any more.

    But I found wonderful new friends online. Spent a week with a fellow fibromite and both wished I didn’t have to leave. Creating a new career that I can do from bed. Doing things I would never have had time for with my old career.

  • La

    I know most people would think its nuts to look at a life with a chronic illness and see blessings, I think its nuts not to search for and find blessings. It took me a while to really see them, and not just try to convince myself they were there. I’ve had chronic pancreatitis for 6+ years, which brings me daily pain and nausea, frequent vomiting, type 1 diabetes for the last 2 yrs., numerous procedures and an upcoming major surgery. I had to quit working soon after I got sick and go from a life of full-time plus overtime work to way too much time on my hands. I started to volunteer with a local fire company, I still babysat for friends who had no money to pay me, and I learned new crafts while stumbling back onto old ones. As I get closer to my surgery, I want to get out and do something every day, as soon I will not have an option of getting out, I will be stuck inside, in bed every day for months. I know I will survive that time, just trying to make the most of my “free” time before it. Unfortunately going out and doing something every day has become every other day, as it takes me a day to recover from most outings.
    So thanks for you writing, it helped remind me to find and count my blessings, to find the good among so much bad.

  • My blessings are the silver linings that came as a result of me having fibro. I was able to stay home and raise my kids. I would have had to work if I hadn’t become ill and our whole family dynamic would be different. And my husband had to step up to the plate and stop being Mr. Party Man. There are more but you get my point.

    As much as the aches and pains and IBS and everthing else bother me, I don’t regret getting ill. I do wish that now that the blessings are in place it would go away now. LOL!

  • Raquel

    Such a true article. I am a happier person since getting sick. I am so much more appreciative of life, of the little things, and of the people in my life.

    When I was recently asked what I felt blessed with, I had to reply ‘my health’. Because I may have a life altering illness, but it isn’t life threatening. And my health issues have changed my perspectives and made me a better person. Life lessons 🙂

    Those without chronic illness don’t know what they are missing LOL.

  • This post is amazing, I sat here with tears in my eyes nodding my head at every line. Thank you so eloquently putting this down for all of us to remember the blessings that come from our struggles. I too have the most amazing, selfless, loving husband and I thank my lucky stars for him everyday as I know that even in the healthy, this is hard to come by.

    I’m doing a feature on my blog this month, where each week I will write the seven top things I’m thankful for that week. It helps to look at life in this way when the pain seems too much to bear.


  • Hello Karen Your Article was a Blessing to me to read for numerous reasons first off your the first person I have found who has been diagnosed with sjogren’s syndrome which is what i have with double DNA antibodies for Lupus and when I tell people I’m sick and there is know cure they look at me strange.

    Like you I have been blessed with people to help me however I’m still having problems giving up my independence and hate to admit when I’m in pain since I can’t seem to find a doctor here in NH to treat this. It’s nice to know that were not alone in this world with people like you out there thanxs to You dont look sick I have met new friends.

    Love Peace and Granola to you.

  • paige

    Karen, You seriously rock. I have Primary Sjogren’s syndrome and it has been a roller coaster ride. Your article brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for expressing such a loving balance to the good and bad blessings of chronic illness!

  • RedCurlyHead

    Thank you for this awesome testimony. I needed to see this. At the moment I’m in more pain than usual, unable to move around and feeling sorry for myself. I, too, am blessed witn an amazing husband who is more than supportive and three four – legged friends that are happy to keep me company (and also glad Im home all the time now).

    Thank you for this fresh perspective. Blessings and spoons to you!

  • BJ

    Thank you so much for sharing this with everyone. It is so difficult to explain chronic disease to my family and others.
    Only moments ago I was trying to explain to a woman in my online support group how gratitude helps me. You explained so well.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  • Cassandra White

    I don’t feel blessed so much.
    I am dissapointed that I am not uplifted by this commentary. I wish I were. I do really like the title “But you don’t look sick…”
    My wife is my Primary Caregiver. She is exhausted and also struggles with her own medical issues. I feel like a helpless child physically and emotionaly. I am on waitlist for in-home care. Last week my wife was ready to drop me off at a nursing home. This is after i disclosed to the occupational Theraist that one of my recent injuries was caused by my wife- the OT told me she has to file an abuse report. Today my wife states she make aan 18 month committment to try to work things out and get support servises and NEVER injure me on purpose again. The 18 month committment is cause we just had Dierect TV installed and the contract is 18 months.
    Blessed? not so much. C

  • Claire Smith

    I hate having Fibromyalgia and all my other illnesses, although I have matured and changed my life positively because of it, I still regret not having looked after myself sooner. For a very long while I cursed the gods for all the wrong things in my life, I gave them the credit for the things I worked hard for. Being an Athiest has really changed my life, I get the joy from the things I work hard for, and blame only bad genetics for the pain and society for creating the things that disable me. I am happier as a chronically ill Athiest, knowing there is no divine plan, because this is the one and only chance you get to make the most of your life, I wont let my illnesses stop me.

  • Lizzy

    Thank you Karen for the beautiful post. I also, have found that a lot of my closest friends are online. Boy what an eye opener having an invisible illness can be! I have learned who my true friends are and that life itself in its simplest form is a real gift. My husband is a blessing straight from God. He’s been right there beside me fighting for me when I didn’t have the energy to, helping me do the things I can’t, and being a loving shoulder to lean on when I need to cry. I rejoice in the ablity to wake up every day and have more time with my husband, kids, and friends. Isn’t it wonderful that by society’s standards we all should be sad, depressed, etc but we are actually the ones who have more! We can appreciate all the more the little things that make life great, and I thank God for having that!

  • I have many of the same blessings you posted. I have a husband who is similar to yours, except that mine drives a bus for a nationwide company and is gone for days at a time. But, when he is home, he is awesome. We have a grown daughter and 2 young grandsons who live nearby and help me a lot!
    I have Fibro, Rheumatoid Arthritis, T2 Diabetes and Have gone blind in my right eye due to disease in it. BUT, I am blessed with friends who stick by me, cry with me on bad days and rejoice on the rare good day. I am in a church that supports me and loves me. I have God, above all else. He is my redeemer and salvation. Praise God!!!

  • Sandy Goodfellow

    Thank you Karen for such powerful words. I have struggled many years with endometriosis, fibro, and now RSD. I look at my life in two stages–before I got sick, and after. I am still grieving the death of who I was. This is NOT an easy process. Family has a hard time understanding, how do you expect friends to? Physically is easier to grasp for me than spiritually–I am still coming to terms with that. And yet I use to be a catholic school teacher?! Without my husband I would not be here today. If I needed the house moved, he would move it–but emotionally he doesn’t always get it. This website has helped me in so many ways! Its people like you and Christine who will help me on my way! Thank you again!

  • nancynursez637

    Living well with chronica illness forces us to check in with what is possible in our lives. To not live well is to dwell on the negative.
    I live with a disabling disorder, inoperable of the thoracic spine. It compromises my spinal cord when and if I get to active, and gives me on going neuropathies and pain.
    I have wonderful physician support once the obscure diagnosis was reached, and am exceedlingly grateful I still have spinal cord function.
    I have learned to do things differently, developed new hobbies where I could not adapt them and agree that on line support is wonderful.
    It is the only life I have and therefore I chose to find ways to enjoy the gift.
    I don’t look sick either and it was an obscure but significant disorder. There were many disparaging remarks, mis-diagnoses, and outright psychological dismissal. I was even accused of drug addiction where I had no prescriptions and no access. So all of this misdirection is about them not me. Once I found competant care, then we could get on to managing the issues.
    Living my life in joy was not complicated, I just removed those who rained on my parade, and continued to look until I found appropriate medical care. Stay positive, folks either run toward you or run away.

  • Maureen

    It is so encouraging to read what you have written. After almost 3 years I haven’t gotten to this point just yet. I am no longer able to work and did lose all of my friends when I became ill, even after being a supportive friend to them along the way. I struggle spiritual, but have a supportive family who tells me I did nothing wrong to deserve this! I was pushed by my family to give up ALL pain meds because of my inability to focus, rather than change meds. So, I fight the chronically severe pain, the chronic fatigue and many other issues, with many people saying “you look so good”. I DON’T FEEL SO GOOD! Thanks for the encouraging words – I am hoping to get to that place in the near future!

  • Patrice Howe

    You are truly an inspiration to all those who feel sorry for themselves. After 30 years ol living with Lupos + all the secondary diseases that come with it–I have passed the why me stage. Your article will help many of us!

  • I can think of only one thing that fibromyalgia has given me.
    Direct feedback on the everyday disfunctional harassment of American society. I don’t put up with the mind games or the BS any more. I don’t bother keeping people who play mind games in my social circles. I walk away from situations that are toxic far more easily than most people.
    Fibromyalgia is literal feedback on my attitude. If I fall into any of the common everyday self defeating attitudes most people get shoveled in by way of schools and advertising if not getting it at home, then I get sick. Real sick. Too sick to do anything.
    If I keep my head and stick to reality, seek out people who do not get vicious or cruel in their personal interactions, then I literally get more time to enjoy their company online and more time to do the things that are within my reach.
    Fibro is a feedback system that never fails to warn me of bad situations. It’s caused me no end of trouble in life, but if I hadn’t had that feedback I might still be enmeshed in dozens of bad interactions.

  • Lynn Russell

    Karen, This writing really resonated with me. It’s so easy to get down thinking about what we can’t do. I try very hard to focus on my blessings and what I can still do. So this article was a wonderful reminder to keep it up! Thank you so much!

  • keep up the work and I was diagnosed in 1996 with MS and its been a blessing all the way.
    I have a new business – I am not a Mess! and a DVD that you will totally love..
    perhaps we can do a giveaway..
    Please check out my links

  • Denise

    Lovely post, Christine. I have T1 diabetes and Wegener’s Granulomatosis. My conditions allow me the luxury of counting my blessings every day. Your post helped me put things in perspective today–thanks!

  • Thank you for taking the time to write this , I have gastroparesis , feel like crap most of the time , someone directed me to this site, i get the comment all the time , but you do not look sick , how can you look sick when you are nauseated 24/7, i eat from a feeding tube , do not eat by mouth at all, how that does not look sick i have no idea , i have come to the conclusion , you learn who your friends are, recently last week when i was in intensive care, fighting for my life, no one coworker , i work at that same hospital btw , came to see me….. so basically, the only one that came to see me was my 16 yo daughter…. i get so down , wish and pray to die , you are not supposed to live life this way , it is unnatural to not eat and be fed through a tube , yes i see a shrink for the depression, see a pain doc for the chronic pain …. it helps , but does not help the day to day interactions and reactions at work … thank you for being here !