Friday, December 10, 2010

Guest Post from 'An Apple a Day' !

Hello again, my wonderful readers! 

I'm sorry for the tremendous gap between posts, but I had a great reason. As I mentioned, Kate (my Australian counterpart), was visiting me for two incredible weeks! I'll be writing a detailed post about our time together, but for now allow me to introduce an awesome website called An Apple a Day! An Apple a Day covers a wide array of  topics - anything from travel to family medicine - and each writer adds their own unique twist! I was thrilled when Tara Spicer, the Assistant Editor, asked if I'd be interested in hosting a guest post by one of their writers. They pitched a few ideas to me and I hope you enjoy the end results!


 Coping with Chronic Illness: Five Daily Affirmations

Kathy Rothaar is a guest blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer on becoming a phlebotomist   for the Guide to Health Education.

Chronic illness, by its own definition, is something no one wants to deal with.  Always sick. Always in pain.  Always not feeling 100 percent.  How does someone with chronic illness cope?

I have a very dear friend who suffers from lupus.  As a result of her illness, she also has a clotting disorder.  Seven years ago, she had a pulmonary embolism and almost died.  For the next three years she was almost bed-ridden.  Because of the debilitating pain and gravity of her illness, she could only leave her bed to go to doctor's appointments.  Then her doctors decided to try an experimental chemo treatment.  Now she gets a treatment every month.  One that makes her sicker than her illness ever did for the first few days.  But it also gives her a new lease on life.  She is free from her bed for at least one week every month.

I have watched her closely throughout this illness, have taken her to many of her appointments, fed her and bathed her when she could not do it herself.  I have also sat by her hospital bed when she succumbed to another ancillary illness that required her to be hospitalized.  She had to leave behind a thriving career.  She can no longer wear most of her fashionable clothes as a result of her body deformities.  Her once beautiful hair is gone, and she now sports a wig.  And, her husband recently announced that he wants a divorce and that he has met someone else. Throughout this entire time, her faith has not wavered.  She has such a strong faith that it has sustained her through all of the pain, loneliness, frustration, and anxiety. 

Six months ago she fell in her kitchen and completely tore her knee.  She was hospitalized for two weeks then moved to a nursing home so she could receive the rehabilitation necessary to try and avoid surgery.   Initially she was devastated, but eventually she came to love being there.  Now she visits the residents on a regular basis and feels a new purpose for her life.  She is reaching out to those less-fortunate than herself who may be lonely and depressed and not have the faith that has sustained her.

As difficult as it is, I know that every day she counts her blessings.  She finds something to be thankful for.  It may be something as little as the fact that she has juice and crackers on her nightstand and does not have to take her medication on an empty stomach.  She has also discovered that if she takes her eyes off of herself, she feels much better.  She tries to do for others whenever and wherever possible.  As I mentioned, she cannot always get out of bed so the phone has become her lifeline.  She volunteers on a prayer chain and prays for and with people every day.   Lives have changed as a result of her prayers.  I know, because mine is one of them.

If I had to list five affirmations that I know she lives by, they would be:

1.  Pray without ceasing.
2.  Have faith.
3.  Take your eyes off of yourself and your situation.
4.  Don't let your illness define you.  You are still a living, breathing human being who has a purpose and something to offer the world.
5.  Don't ever give up—ever.  Look for the good in everything and in everyone.

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