Chronic or Crisis? How’s Your Support?
ear, I’m your gal. I have loads of empathy—and maybe some unasked for words of
advice—for you as you deal with your problem. However, if you are still
wallowing in the same problem months or even years later, I’m just not
interested. I can’t seem to muster up the enthusiasm to care. I find myself
wondering why you’re still in that place.
am. I have a short attention span for pain and problems. I would never make it
as a therapist.
I have a chronic illness? Maybe it’s both. I’ve actually had this illness for
24 years, but when it only flared up once in 4 or 7 or even 11 years, it wasn’t
a big deal. It didn’t feel chronic; it felt like a crisis. I would be
incapacitated, even hospitalized. I would be given large doses of steroids. And
it would be over, and I would be back to life as I knew it.
least, daily medicine to keep chronic symptoms at bay. I have to make decisions
around it, choosing what I can and can’t do. It’s rare for it not to come up in
conversation. And yet I am very fortunate in how much I can do as I learn from
the daily lives of others dealing with chronic illness.
car model everywhere on the road, when you have a chronic illness you suddenly
become aware of how many people have one. According to the CDC, “In 2005, 133
million Americans—almost 1 out of every 2 adults—had at least one chronic
illness,” and “one-fourth of people with chronic conditions have one
or more daily activity limitations.” That’s a lot of people with problems.
diabetes and even chronic back pain. It also includes autoimmune disorders (the
family of disorders my illness fits in) like lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid
arthritis. Everywhere I go lately I hear of someone having an autoimmune
disease, including two pastors’ wives I talked with at a meeting recently.
It includes ALS (better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), which a missionary
friend of ours has been diagnosed with. The MS a dear friend has also falls
into the chronic illness category.
that people with an invisible chronic illness tend to only open up to another
victim. Maybe they’ve met too many people like the me of the past, who got
bored of their “complaints” and just wanted them to get over it.
their pain. The risks of not doing so are tremendous. According to the website
of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week (which takes place in September of each
the average person.
uncontrollable physical pain are major factors in up to 70% of suicides.
fine, ask again and say you really want to know).
guilty about it; they’re doing that enough on their own).
with chronic illness.
other support group/Bible study for those with chronic illness.
others. But I am learning to listen, to ask the right questions. Hopefully you
will, too, and hopefully without a chronic illness of your own.
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Carol has been blogging since 2005. Blog posts prior to 2010 can be found here.