Overcoming Cronic Illness
As we get to know each other, I feel like I should share the major turning points in my journey of faith. You can read about another recent Ebenezer I revisited here.
My husband reminded me that I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis eight years ago this week. When a diagnosis of chronic, incurable disease is slapped on you, it becomes a label. The label can lie to you about who you are because of disease. Over the years, I’ve found myself allowing a variety of labels to stick to me like a name tag at networking event.
Hello, I’m Sick
I have had a long journey with coming to terms and coping with the dysfunction within my body. My emotions have run the gamete from depressed and sulking to rebellious and reckless. Spiritually, I’ve experienced peace, submission, indignation and even anger.
My approach to treatment has ranged from taking all the meds to taking no meds at all. I’ve modified my diet— first in extreme ways that weren’t sustainable for the long haul, and then I found the foods that cause issues and eliminated those few.
Physically, I’ve been everything from bed-ridden to a burned-out runner with wrecked knees to being in the best shape of my life here recently.
There was a time when I even let this disease determine my dreams. I let it limit what I thought I was capable of. I saw my capacity in every area of life through the lens of RA.
Discovering the power of choice was the game-changer for me. I have chosen to strip myself of the labels that come with the diagnosis. I chose to accept that God has a purpose for my chronic illness and to glorify Him in my circumstances no matter how I feel or how disappointed I am by my own unmet expectations. I chose to change my diet and eliminate the foods that increase inflammation. I also chose to join a fitness community of positive, like-minded people a year and a half ago. Overcoming physical limitations through gradually increasing the intensity of my fitness regimen has brought about an unspeakable sense of capability and new determination to overcome. Even though I started my fitness journey still wearing so many of the negative labels, reaching new goals physically has shown me that I can put on whatever labels I choose. And that RA doesn’t have to have anything to do with the matter.
Today, eight years after being diagnosed, I choose to say,
Hello, I’m Healthy
...In the game
...Full of hope
...Dreaming big dreams
Even though I still hit bumps in the road, and have days when I feel sorry for myself, I’m determined to overcome every obstacle. At 37 I’ve never been in better shape or felt better in my entire life. Thanks to the encouragement, accountability, love and support of my family and community, along with an ever-increasing understanding of God’s Power at work in and through me, I now see no limit to what I can do. Not just physically, either. My capacity (and yours) is constantly expanding. I refuse to let an insurance code determine what I can and can’t do. So this May, eight years later, I’m stripping off the negative labels associated with RA.