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.