I haven’t filled out the 30 Things About My Invisible Illness meme for a few years. [To be perfectly honest, and not to start any debates, but I actually am a bigger fan of the word disease than illness. But that’s another story–I feel like disease and illness are both states but illness often carries the connotation of “temporaryism”].
1. The illness I live with is: Asthma, anemia, uterine fibroids [and though not an illness, borderline ADHD]
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2008 / 2012 / 2013 [/ 2013]
3. But I had symptoms since: 2008 / 2012 / 2012 [/ forever]
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: Remembering to carry my meds with me.
5. Most people assume: That because the things I live with are common that they aren’t a big deal to live with.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: Making sure I have all the medical crap I need for the day organized [read: thrown haphazardly in my backpack]
7. My favorite medical TV show is: I don’t watch TV. But if I did, I still wouldn’t waste my time watching medical shit, I spend too much of my life dealing with it :].
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: Probably my iPod, not that it has anything to do with my asthma. [Though, it keeps the ADHD aspect of me organized :)]
9. The hardest part about nights are: Honestly? Remembering to actually go to bed at a proper time.
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) 7 pills–however, since my treatment doesn’t revolve around pills, I also take 3-4 inhalers and neb treatments as needed.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: Am skeptical, outside of adjunctive exercise and balanced nutrition [something I need to practice more :)].
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: Invisible.
13. Regarding working and career: I know that my asthma may change how I do things, but not limit what I choose to do! I’m very blessed to presently work in an amazing place with people who genuinely care about me–through a pretty bad asthma exacerbation last September, to like 3+ weeks (combined) off work through the spring and summer because of the anemia/blood transfusions/un-diagnosed fibroids causing me to bleed to death, my boss has never required me to submit a doctors’ note. How much my coworkers care is beyond amazing–we’re far more than coworkers :].
14. People would be surprised to know: I think there are a lot of things that people would be surprised to know about living with chronic disease, especially when you’re pretty young. I think it would surprise people that I very much work to hide my asthma symptoms in real life; I think it would surprise people to know how many [thousands of] times I’ve hidden in a bathroom to take my inhalers; I think it would surprise people to know how educated you have to be in this country to receive proper medical care.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: I’m not really sure this is a “new reality”. The reality is, I live my life with what’s thrown at me–and I think that’s what I’ve always done.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Really, I think I started tackling things after my asthma diagnosis that I never would have bothered with before. Simple things, but simple things that made me a better person. I think if anything, asthma made me more ambitious than ever feeling limited.
17. The commercials about my illness: Could not piss me off more. Take this drug and you’ll have perfect asthma control and frolic through the field of daisies with all of us in the Elusive Land of Perfect Control! I take three inhalers, 2-4 times per day, plus a rescue inhaler and nebs anywhere from zero to twelve times a day (on a bad day) and I still can’t run anywhere for very long.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Like I said, I live a much fuller life post-diagnosis. I can’t say that I miss living less ambitiously than I do now! So, I’ll go with breathing effortlessly.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: Once again, I say it all the time–“asthma may be a speed-bump but it’s never a road-block”. The only thing I really gave up was not having ridiculous lungs–and, I didn’t really have a choice in that, did I?
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Blogging, meeting people from the internet [ooh, dangerous! :)], exercise, and visiting my dear, dear friends at the pharmacy [kidding, dear God].
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Feeling normal? I’m not sure I ever felt normal before I had all this weird stuff happening in my body–let’s be honest here, I’m rather strange :].
22. My illness has taught me: That I can choose how I define my own world.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: “Oh, it’s ‘just’ asthma.” Yes, because BREATHING is not important AT ALL. “It’s all in your head.” Actually, it’s not–and I’ve got a copy of my methacholine challenge that proves that.
24. But I love it when people: Are aware of the realities of living with asthma, the variations of what “asthma” can mean and make an effort to be conscious of people with this disease. Or… if they’re interested in discovering the above!
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: I think there are a lot of them, but mostly they come in song form.
Watch the Sky – Something Corporate (“and i’ve been up for days / I finally lost my mind and then I lost my way / I’m blistered but I’m better–and I’m home. // i will crawl–there’s things that aren’t worth giving up, I know. / but i won’t let this get me / i will fight–you live the life you’re given with the storms outside / some days all i do is watch the sky // […] i think i could use a little break [but today was a good day]”), has been a big one through long nights of asthma and ER visits for the anemia. From my ER visits this year, the picks were
Caves – Jack’s Mannequin (“no peace / just clicking machines / […] / i lay still, still i’m ready to fight […] / the walls are caving in / as far as i can see […] there’s no one here but me / beat my body like a rag doll […] windows leading to the past / think it’s time i broke some glass–get this history off my mind / […] everything’s a piece of everyone.“),
Diane the Skyscraper – Jack’s Mannequin (“but I don’t have the energy / so she plugs my machines back in […] / i’d be lying if i said this was my plan / but we are all in this together / see i’m trying but i just don’t understand / why i can’t predict the weather past the storm.”) and
I Swear This Place is Haunted – A Skylit Drive (“Is there something beyond science going on here? / in the dead of fear, fear / […] this is the last winter–part of a change for better / I’m moving forward now–turn all of this white, the creature at night / you said it would never find out where I rest my head at night.”.)
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Do what you have to do, stay–or become–active, make good choices, ask a billion questions, and own this thing.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: How much my perspective on just about everything has changed. For the better.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Hands down, Medicine-X last year was full of these things. People there, my fellow ePatients, understood my prednisone induced crazy. They asked the right questions and made me feel like I was supported and cared about. My friend Steve checked in a few times a day to make sure I was okay and kept offering to drive down the couple hours to Palo Alto if I needed anything. It was overwhelming, and I felt like shit, and I really could not have gotten sick in a better place as unfortunate as the situation was, because people there got it. People at home have a harder time comprehending it.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: Just because you can’t see it–doesn’t mean it’s not there. I usually look–or can look–totally healthy, even if I’m not.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Thankful. That one person at a time, you and I can change our own perspectives . . . to change somebody else’s.