How has being sick changed you?

Photo: #NHBPM: Nov. 13 Evolution
Write about how being a patient / caregiver has changed you. How have your goals changed? Have your values changed?

November is Wego Health’s National Health Blog Post Month. Last year I was awesome at doing this almost every day. Clearly I’m not doing so awesome this year since it’s the 15th and I’m just writing my first post, but the reason I haven’t gotten to it is because I’ve been too busy, which must mean I feel a lot better than last year (at least that is the interpretation I’m going with)!

This is day 13’s prompt (and yes I know it’s day 15, but I’m going with day 13 because I like the prompt better. I promise I can actually count.) Write about how being a patient has changed  you. How have your goals changed? Have your values changed?

I’ve changed a lot since I became sick, these are the ways I think I have changed the most. 

1. I am a more empathetic/sympathetic person.

Because I have been judged time and time again (see here or here for example) I can give people the benefit of the doubt. I’ve learn to disregard my personal opinion about someone’s problems and just extend the hand of friendship, judgement free. Since I started doing this I’ve noticed people are very willing to open up to me, and I really appreciate that trust. I’ve been able to build some really strong friendships where I might not have otherwise.

2. I live for each day.

When I think about my life long term I get completely overwhelmed. I can’t think about living my entire life being disabled by pain, it’s too depressing. Instead I focus on each day and how I’m going to cope with that day only. It’s helped me to gain an appreciation for the small things: a friend who stops by to chat, laughing with my children, the sun shining down on me, or the birds in my backyard fighting over a worm. These are beautiful and amazing things that I used to be too busy to notice or appreciate.  

3. I know I have to take care of myself first

I’ve always been a “helper,” if you needed something, I was there to help out. This was a great quality, but I could not keep it up after I got sick. I was using all my energy to help other people instead of helping myself and my family and it just wasn’t working. I had to learn to say no, even when I wanted to say yes. When it comes down to it myself, my family, and my close friends are the most important. This means some other things get neglected, but that is the way it has to be. I can’t help other people if I’m not helping myself.

4. I know there is nothing to be ashamed of in asking for help 

I have always been proud of my independence and I’ve always taken care of myself.  I didn’t “need” anyone or anything because I could handle it myself. In retrospect, I realize that is a really prideful attitude because everyone needs somebody. After I got sick it was really humbling for me to have to start accepting assistance from others. It really hurt my pride to be the one asking for things instead of the one giving things. The great thing is as I’ve depended on others I’ve developed stronger relationships with them. Everyone needs to be needed. There is nothing to be ashamed of in asking for help.  

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