There’s no denying it: life with a chronic illness can be hard. Days are long and painful and wearying. Doctor’s visits follow new medications that follow days in bed that just feel like they’ll never end. But as Proverbs 17:22 tells us, laughter really is the best medicine. My own yearlong journey with an undiagnosed autoimmune disease has shown me how important it is to keep a smile on one’s face and the joy of Christ in one’s heart. With that in mind, here are some things that make me laugh when I sit back and think about how my life right now is different from that of your average eighteen-year-old girl’s.
You know you have a chronic illness when…
–You type “m” in the top bar of your laptop, intending to go to your mail, but instead the Mayo Clinic website is the first thing to pop up.
–You can’t count all the medicines you’ve been put on and taken off, and put on and taken off of, and put on and taken off of again.
–You also can’t count all the wrong diagnoses you’ve been given.
–You ALSO can’t count all your doctors! (I’m pretty sure I have nine right now.)
–You’re constantly torn between “I can’t let this disease rule my life” and “I have to listen to my body and do what it says.”
–Your life is a constant game of, “Is this a symptom, or does everyone experience this?”
–You’re the youngest person in the rheumatologist’s waiting room.
–People think you’re out of shape when you can’t walk up the stairs without getting out of breath, which drives you crazy (both them assuming that you’re out of shape, and the fact that, well, you ARE out of shape. But you’re only out of shape because of your illness).
–You can sleep soundly for twelve hours and then wake up and still have zero energy (happened to me just last week). In other words, your secret talent is getting exhausted without doing a single thing. Wow, what an amazing ability!
–You go out for an hour one evening and can’t get out of bed until noon the next day.
–Your illness is so complicated, your doctors don’t know which field of medicine to turn to.
–You plan everything around your symptoms—which never works, because you can never predict your symptoms. But that doesn’t stop you from trying.
–It drives you nuts when well-meaning people say, “Get well soon!” (Merriam-Webster’s: “Chronic—always present or encountered.”)
–You wear sweatpants and t-shirts far more often than real clothes.
–Your greatest wish is to be able to go on a run or study for a test or clean the bathroom—things that most people try to get out of.
–Your spelling has improved dramatically. Rheumatologist? Fibromyalgia? Degenerative? No problem!
–You rate your fatigue by: a. capable of movement, b. still conscious, and c. unable to be upright.
–You’re always trying to find terms to explain to “normal” people what your life is like (and when said people hear you say something like “My spoons are all in the dishwasher today,” they think you’re crazy).
–You’ve probably wasted half of your life waiting for the doctor.
–When other people read something with unexpected twists and turns, they’re reading a novel. You’re reading your medical records (they’re thicker than most novels).
–When you’re filling out a form that says “List all your medications” and it only has three lines, you have no idea what to do.
–You don’t know where to start when the doctor says, “What brings you here today?”
–Before going to the doctor, you prepare notes so that you don’t forget your own symptoms. (It’s just that there are so many, and they like to change every few days.)