Thursday, June 14, 2012

{why i'm grateful for my celiac disease}

Like I said a few weeks back, I work on a marketing team at a pharmaceutical drug company {the drug needs to stay a secret!}. My job entails getting into the minds of the patients; how they feel about their disease, how they cope, how they manage it, etc. Last week I stumbled upon an article that stopped me in my tracks. It was entitled, "8 Reasons to be Grateful for Chronic Illness."

Chronic illnesses are illnesses that are persistent and long-lasting in its effects, or one that lasts over a lifetime & changes your day-to-day life. Celiac Disease falls into that category. I wish I had found this article a few years ago, because I really think it would have helped me see the positive things Celiac brought into my life!

Here are the 8 reasons & my thoughts:

1.  Gratitude Brings Empathy, Compassion and Humility
I am much more able to put myself in the shoes of others with chronic illness, because I'm in the same boat! I understand there are bad days, good days, annoying days, rewarding days. Celiac forced me to be thankful for the wonderful things in my life. It's just a small little bump in the road.

2.  Gratitude Brings Resilience and Openness
I was diagnosed right in the middle of my senior year. My step-siblings had just moved in, so we were already dealing with the challenges blended families brought. I had been feeling sick for months, & college applications were adding so much stress to my life. Yet somehow, even with the diagnosis, I made it through with a smile on my face. & I continued to face everything head-on during the next few years of college {where my life becaming even more challenging!}  I'm much more resiliant than I ever thought I could be, & I'm proud of myself for making it through.

3.  Gratitude Brings Patience and Closer Relationships
My four-year trek to a diagnosis taught me so.much.patience. After a diagnosis & switch to a gluten-free diet, you don't feel 100% better the next day. It takes a few months. I had to just keep on doing what the doctor told me & look forward to the easier, healthy days ahead. Being diagnosed along with my twin sister made us closer with each other & our parents. Dealing with Celiac was a group effort, & we all had to work together to meet our end goal...good health!

4.  Gratitude Inspires Service
There aren't many "hands-on" organizations or charities that benefit Celiac, but I still donate to research hospitals who are working on a cure. I'll touch on this more below, but I've become much more cognizant of illnesses that are more debilitating than Celiac, & also donate my time to help their cause.

5.  Gratitude Brings Perspective
I look at the greater picture more, & don't sweat the small things. In the beginning, Celiac felt like the worst of the worst. Compared to the rest of the problems in the world, it's so small. I don't need to spend any time in the hospital, I don't need surgery, I don't need to take medicine with tough side-effects, Celiac isn't fatal. I am so lucky to not have to deal with a disease that is impossible to manage.

6.  Gratitude Brings Acceptance
Hey! I'm here! :) It took a few years, but I'm finally at a place where feeling healthy & good about myself is of the utmost importance...& I'm going to do whatever it takes to keep me in this pace.

7.  Gratitude Brings Opportunities for Growth
Celiac has made me want to spread the word about the disease, about how to deal with people with food allergies, about how to cope with cicumstances out of your control. So many opportunites have arisen since my diagnosis; for example, I was able to speak to a team of doctors & pharmaceutical employees on how to support patients with Celiac. It has opened so many doors & introduced me to so many people.

8.  Gratitude Brings.... Un-Sweetness?
This one made me laugh...but it's so true. If a restaurant messes up my order & puts croutons in my salad, I can't keep my mouth shut. However hard it is for me, I need to be that annoying customer who says, "Sorry, I can't eat this...can you please make a new salad?"  This one is SO tough for me, because I always feel bad for the waiter, but I need to keep my health in mind. Would I like to spend the next few days in pain because I was afraid to speak up? No thanks. ;)

No matter what chronic illness you have, good things DO come out of it! It's important to remember that.

The article is here if you would like to read it.

Happy Thursday!

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