Saturday, July 11, 2015

Living with a Chronic Illness Requires Courage

     In my last post, I discussed whether or not living with a chronic illness is heroic.  In my opinion, it is not.  Today, I want to share my thoughts on why courage is required for living with a chronic illness.

     I don't see myself as heroic for living with rheumatoid arthritis, but I do consider myself courageous for living with this disease.  This is not because I want to appear as such to others; rather, it is because there is no way to face life with RA without courage.

     Courage means facing some form of difficulty despite the fear it may cause.  Living courageously with RA means I live my life as best as I can despite my fears.  It gives me strength to handle a life filled with pain and uncertainty.  I don't know if I'll feel good or bad tomorrow.  Courage allows me to get through each day whether I feel fantastic or fatigued.

     I need courage when I visit my rheumatologist, to listen to test results and to remind myself to breathe slowly during a blood test.  I need courage to ask questions of my doctors or pharmacist when I don't understand what a drug is or what it will do for me.  I need courage to dispute medical charges on an insurance bill with people who view me as a number on a file instead of a human being.  I need courage when I interact with others who have no idea how I'm actually feeling.  Sometimes, I need courage just to get out of bed.

     Courage is essential.  Without it, I wouldn't be able to write.  I wouldn't feel like my thoughts are meaningful.  I wouldn't believe that sharing my experience with RA could educate or comfort another person.  Without courage, I would give up.

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