We are born with a miraculous organ that blossoms and grows, like a tree. It needs water and oxygen to thrive, just the same, and if we don’t nourish it, it will wither away. Our minds are one of the most powerful tools we are born with. Given that we are one of the only beings with a conscious mind, it’s detrimental to grow and expand it. Thankfully, our disease does this for us in many ways.
Living day to day with a chronic illness takes an insurmountable amount of patience. A level that seemed to be unattainable, in our former healthy lives. Our patience is exercised when going to the doctor and listening to the fact that there is no cure for our disease. It’s tried again when we test numerous concoctions of medications to find the perfect combo to prevent worsening. It’s tested when we watch ourselves get sicker, despite every effort to beat the disease. Again when the medications cause horrible side effects, but there’s no other option.
The next level of patience learned is accepting the fact that not every family member and friend is going to support you on your journey. Those who you considered closest may turn their backs, but it only makes you stronger. You’ve come this far and no one is going to stop you on your path to healing, or simply living. Similar to cleaning out a wound, it may burn at first, but in the long run it’s for the best.
If scleroderma drives one to the point of being disabled, there’s an entire new lifestyle that has to be adapted to. Our time is no longer ours, and is dependent on those around us. Patience is exercised here because if someone isn't around to do something in particular, we are stuck. At times it can be very frustrating because you want to just do the thing on your own and get it over with. We are left with no choice but to sit and wait. That's why planning ahead is so crucial, when it comes to living with a disability.
Besides patience, pain teaches us numerous lessons. We are humbled from it, and extra grateful on the days that it doesn't ravage our body. It takes time, but we learn to do everything we have to do, on a daily basis, despite the amount of pain we’re in. The most unique thing about this is that one almost will never hear someone with scleroderma complaining. We have achieved a high mental discipline within ourselves, and know that complaining usually won’t help solve the problem.
Our focus of life becomes fine tuned, and we are a group of people that live in the moment. Our rose-colored glasses were ripped off of our faces and the stark reality is now all we can see. Sometimes it feels like our whole life is a problem, but navigating through ours makes others seem easy. The fact that we have to creatively modify our living spaces and vehicles, to be handi-capable, helps us solve things quickly. Instead of dwelling and stewing in our misery, we try to do the best we can to take the next step forward.
The list can go on, infinitely, in the ways that chronic illness makes one stronger. The important message is to allow your disease to continue to mold you into a better person. There is always room for growth, and we are at a full advantage, since many lessons were handed to us without asking. Some people spend their entire lives never leaving the comfort zone, but ours has been broken and shattered, only to build some of the strongest people this world has ever seen.