Friday, August 8, 2008

BITTERSWEET PAIN (Inspiration for the ill)

Because I do not look chronically ill, I sometimes get skeptical looks when I tell someone I have a chronic physical illness. Occasionally I've been told that it's "all in my head." For the rest of my life I will always endure some level of physical pain. It's unfortunate that my life, already full of unimaginable difficulty, has to be further complicated by the naive judgment of others. In a lot of ways, I know they are only products of their culture...

Joy H. Selak and Dr. Steven S. Overman's book You Don't Look Sick: Living Well with Invisible Chronic Illness investigates America's view on long-term illness. The authors specifically discuss Patricia Fennell's perspective on culture of misunderstanding. "First, Fennell notes, Americans are intolerant of suffering, assigning it no value, and expecting that it be done in silence. Suffering is often believed to have a psychological cause, and is therefore assumed to be a person's own fault. Second, western culture is intolerant of ambiguity, an element common to chronic illnesses, where often neither the cause nor the cure is known. Third, chronic illness is unpredictable and resistant to the high-tech quick fix our achievement-oriented society has come to expect."

Suffering can have a lot of value. Beautiful wisdom can be gained from hardship.

It's important to find physicians who will give patient and continuous care, because there is no quick-fix for chronic illnesses. Thankfully I've found doctors who work relentlessly to help ease the physical pain I'm constantly experiencing, and who continually research the newest and most effective treatments for my illness.

FREE ADVICE from a sick blogger

In her book, You Don't Look Sick: Living with Invisible Chronic Illness, Joy H. Selak teaches "The quiet activities illness demands can train patients to listen, a skill they will need to further perfect. Chronically ill patients who aspire to live better will need to listen to what their body is telling them and understand they cannot fix everything just by trying harder. They will need to spend time listening to the emotions, fears, and anxieties tied to the past and sort out what they can now release. They will need to listen less to the negative people in their lives, and with greater attention to the people willing to support and share with them. They will need to listen more closely to their own inner and spiritual selves as they learn new ways to navigate life with illness."

Grieve for your old life, it's so healthy to let yourself feel emotions of pain and sadness. If you allow yourself time to mourn, you will see how quickly you are ready to move on with your new life!

One of the huge benefits my illness is that it has enabled me to find out who my true friends are. I realize now that if I have a friend who is judgmental of my new life with a chronic illlness or impatient with my illness, he/she is not good for me. Having a chronic illness is a constant strain, so I chose to be around supportive friends who help and strengthen me.

It costs way too much to be chronically sick...

Where are I am going to get the money to pay for all my medical expenses?
How can I get and keep good health coverage?
What should I do now to prepare for continuing health problems?

I went from working two jobs to being on modified bed rest. The medical bills came flying in, and the stress of a chronic illness, in addition to financial difficulty, was overwhelming. I quickly became informed on ways to save money!
Every week, I'll post new advice for the financial struggles of having a complicated illness.

Tip #1
Always avoid a break in health coverage. If you have a break in health coverage, it gives health insurance companies license to refuse to cover any preexisting conditions. Also, become informed about where politicians stand on health issues.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for chronically ill patients to get good health coverage. I have $30,000 in debt solely due to health care costs, because my illness was considered a preexisting condition, and health insurance companies refused to cover it.

If you're too sick to work full-time, there are companies that offer part-time benefits.
Discover Card
Circuit City
Trader Joes
Barnes and Noble