Loving My Chronically Ill Body

It’s hard to love a body that doesn’t work the way it should. But I’ve realized it could be so much worse. I have a lot to be thankful for. So I’m going to give thanks for what I do have.

I’m thankful for the ability to walk, and to walk without pain. When I had a flare of whatever inflammatory arthritis I might have two months ago, walking was a painful challenge; my feet, ankles, and hips hurt a lot. When I was on crutches a few years ago for several weeks after my knee surgery, I dreamed of being able to walk normally again. I’m perfectly mobile now, which is more than a lot of people can say.

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Hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, March 2013

I’m thankful for my sense of smell. So I can smell dinner cooking in the oven. So I can smell the rain during a storm. So I can smell my summer candles, and eventually my (favorite) fall and winter candles. This is a sense I’m expected to lose for up to a year after my brain surgery in a few weeks, which makes me very sad because I love candles so much. But it’s a small price to pay for having a brain tumor removed.

I’m thankful for my vision. Many people with the type of tumor I have lose their peripheral vision, but my tumor isn’t large enough that it’s reached the optic chiasm yet. I can see the beauty of summer all around me. I can see the leaves changing color in the fall. I can see the sparkle of snow and the twinkle of the Christmas tree in the winter. I can see the vibrant colors of the daffodils, tulips, and lilacs in the spring. I can see the handsome face of my loving husband when he looks at me like I’m the center of his universe. Sight is a wonderful thing.

I’m thankful for my sense of hearing. I can hear beautiful music that makes me happy or makes me cry or makes me think. I can hear my husband tell me he loves me. I can hear the birds and crickets chirping. I can hear the crunch of leaves and snow beneath my feet. I can hear my kitties meow at me. I can hear the gentle sound of rain on the roof. The world is full of beautiful sounds.

I’m thankful that my digestive tract works as well as it does, despite having celiac disease. Now that my gut has finally healed a few years after starting a gluten free diet, I can once again actually absorb the food I’m eating and maintain a healthy weight, rather than constantly being deprived of nutrients. I don’t like having celiac disease, but again, it could be so much worse. As long as I don’t ingest gluten, I have no problem.

I’m thankful that my reproductive organs have been fixed as best as they can be for now. My endometriosis has been removed and is still gone, almost two years after having excision surgery. I still have adenomyosis, and will have it until I have a hysterectomy. I can only hope my uterus is strong enough to maintain a pregnancy.

I’m thankful for my mind. Yes, I have a brain tumor that will be removed in three weeks, hopefully for good. But despite the dizziness, the vertigo, and the otherwise bad days I have because of it, I still have my wits about me. I can think. I can read. I can write. I can mentally work, just not physically. I can love. I can learn. I can appreciate the world around me. I can tolerate, for the most part, the pain I still have every day from my adenomyosis.

I have celiac disease. I have endometriosis. I have adenomyosis. I have a brain tumor. I have chronic pain. I have major depressive disorder. I have social anxiety disorder. I have hypothyroidism. I’m struggling with infertility. I might have some kind of inflammatory arthritis. But even though I have many chronic illnesses, I am blessed by God. Just look at everything I still have. What do you have to be thankful for today?

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