On Living with Invisible Illness

It came to my attention through one of the blogs I read that this week is Invisible Illness week. I just found out about it and it ends today, so I guess I’m getting this in just under the wire. I am super lucky to be blessed with not one but two invisible illnesses to celebrate this week. About seven and a half years ago I was diagnosed with both Crohn’s disease and a related type of arthritis that about 25% percent of people with Crohn’s have.

Being invisible illnesses they are both very easy for me to not talk about or point out to people. The most common thing for me to talk about in regards to either of them is telling people I don’t drink because of medication I’m on. Even though I rarely go into specifics. It’s not because I try and hide either of the illnesses, though I easily could at least at the moment, but rather when I’m feeling good there’s little reason to talk about them. Not to mention the fact that I think Crohn’s disease is just about the least sexy illness anyone could ever have (not that any illness is really sexy). I would much rather talk about my joint pain any day than have a conversation about my digestive system.

You may be asking yourself, self why is she talking about have chronic diseases on a blog about things that make her happy. My response would certainly be no having chronic illnesses does not make me happy, but even in the midst of them there are things that I can be happy about.

First there are good things about having an illness that is invisible. Unlike people who have illnesses that are obvious I don’t have to be subject to unwanted questions or stares or whatever people who can’t hide have to face. This isn’t always a positive thing because if you’re sick people expect you to look sick and most of the time I just don’t even if I’m feeling crappy.

Second, I am lucky enough to have contracted these illnesses in a period of time where modern medicine has created drugs that are mostly keeping both of my illnesses in remission. I have been through rough periods with both my illness, though definitely far worse with the arthritis. I have gone for months where I could barely walk and not slept because of the pain. I am happy to report though that thanks to a cocktail of drugs that I take every day I mostly am able to live my life forgetting that I even have either of these diseases. I hope that will continue to be the case. I still have bad days sometimes and am never really 100% pain free, but for the most part I am able to live a normal life.

Third, I am lucky enough to continue to have a job that provides me with good health insurance so that I can afford those drugs that keep me functioning. If I had to pay out of pocket costs I would be a mess as there would be little chance I could afford to just pay for the doctors’ visits let alone the astronomical costs of some of medications.

Finally, I’m grateful to have an awesome husband who has taken care of me when I’ve been falling apart, who has driven me to medical procedures, who makes sure that I take my medications when I forget, and who could have left the sickly girlfriend who he had only been dating for 4 months but who stuck around and married her.

Life with chronic illness is never fun, but I can definitely say that it changes the way I look at things in my life.






2 thoughts on “On Living with Invisible Illness

  1. I have chronic hip bronchitis, which at this point has me in constant pain and nearly crippled. It’s still pretty much invisible, though. Even when I’m limping or using a cane, people don’t ask what’s wrong. Only my closest friends and family know.
    I try to bear it patiently and thankfully. I too am thankful for health insurance (although so far medicine hasn’t helped me much) and for a wonderful husband who takes care of me. Beyond that, some days all I can be grateful for is the opportunity to suffer along with Christ.
    But today I can be grateful for this opportunity to vent a little in public. Thank you, and may God bless you.

  2. Thanks for pointing out the good stuff. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t invisible so that I wouldn’t have to explain why I am moving slow or don’t have it in me to leave the house, but your points are much more positive and good things to remember. Especially the one about insurance – Amen to that!

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