Many people start the new year by reflecting on the past and setting goals for the future. While not a big fan of “resolutions” I do see the value in taking time out to assess progress and fine-tune goals. This process can be challenging for those who face a chronic, incurable illness. After all, “getting healthy” isn’t exactly a goal that we can accomplish. As much as we would love to be free of all this pain, that isn’t going to happen-.
To stubbornly cling to just that one wish for a cure, refusing to compromise is self-sabotaging. It freezes us in time, slowing the progress of our personal growth. Worst of all, it robs us of the potential for a satisfying life.
So what can we do? Even if a cure is not available, there are many things about life with chronic illness that can improve. The key is to strive for living as well as possible in all areas of life. Find creative ways to improve your quality of life.
Is there something about your current treatment plan you’d like to change? Maybe it’s better symptom control, fewer side effects, or even something as big as finding a new doctor. What about sleep habits, diet, or activity level. You don’t have to do everything. Just pick the one or two things that matter most.
Many times it’s easy to say, “I can’t” because of your illness. Look for ways to accommodate your health care needs so that you can say “I can” more often. Don’t let your illness keep you from spending quality time with your loved ones.
Are you still able to work? Do you need to explore workplace accommodations, FLMA, or some other flexible work arrangement? Is short-term, long-term, or permanent disability in your future? Do your homework so you can understand all your options before you need them.
Is there a hobby you’ve been missing out on? Try to find creative ways to enjoy it again. What about learning a new skill or volunteering? Maybe join a support group or start blogging. Find ways to learn and grow from your experience with chronic illness.
Chronic illness can force us to question our beliefs. The long hours of isolation can separate us from our faith community. Try to find ways to stay connected. Re-evaluating our beliefs is sometimes necessary. The results can produce a deeper connection to God and others.