Posted in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Faith, Gastroparesis, Invisible Illnesses, Life Lessons

Lessons Learned

I truly believe everything in life happens for a purpose.  It’s all a part of a bigger plan.  We may not understand everything that happens to us in life, but everything happens for a purpose and sometimes, the most important thing is what we learn from the situation.

When I was diagnosed with CRPS/RSD, I was only fifteen years old and I can’t find words to describe how I felt.  As a fifteen year old I was just a kid.  I didn’t understand what was going on or why I had gotten this disease.  It seemed as one day I was a normal teenager hanging out with friends and having fun and then I woke up in pain and my friends all disappeared.  I was different and the teenagers I thought were my friends no longer had time for me.

When I was diagnosed with gastroparesis in my thirties, I realized life really hasn’t changed much.  I was diagnosed with another chronic illness that is poorly understood and I didn’t know why I ended up with it.

Both diseases have taught me many lessons.  Some of those lessons have been good and made my life better, while other lessons I’ve learned haven’t been good and need to be changed so that my life will be better.  I’ll briefly mention some of those lessons here and then elaborate on each lesson.  I would have to say that the most important and valuable lesson I’ve learned is to not take life for granted.  Another valuable lesson is to never lose hope or give up.  A lesson I learned that wasn’t so good and I need to change is hiding behind my smile and not being honest.

Don’t take things for granted… I’d like to be able to say I don’t take things for granted, but let’s face it… we all take things for granted… our family… our friends… our health… our jobs… etc.  As a teenager and young adult, I often complained about being on crutches and looked forward to the day I wouldn’t need them.  Today, I’m in a wheelchair and look forward to the day I will be strong enough to walk with a walker or crutches again.  However, I am trying to keep in mind how blessed I am to be able to get in my wheelchair and go places because there are many people in the world who are Belfast and can’t go anywhere.  I’m trying to not take my mobility for granted.

Never give up… never lose hope… each day I have to remind myself not to give up or lose hope.  There are days that I’m so depressed that I don’t think things will ever get better.  However I remind myself that with God nothing is impossible.  Tomorrow may bring healing or a great medical break through.  We none know what tomorrow holds.

Fake smiles and okay… Over the years, I’ve learned to smile through the pain and tell people I’m okay… even when I’m not.  With invisible illnesses, it’s often easier to smile and say I’m okay than to be honest and deal with disbelief and people who know how to fix everything.  I don’t like to think of myself as fake or a liar, so I’m working on unlearning this behavior.  I’m trying to be more honest with people.  However, I’ve found it’s easier to be honest with people who seem sincere and really want to know how I feel.  If someone asks how I am, but seems rushed and uncaring, they still get the smile and “I’m okay.”

There’s several other things I’ve learned, but I’ll save them for a later post.

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