Let’s get one thing straight: having a chronic illness absolutely, positively SUCKS 99.99% of the time. However, in order for chraintims* like me to cope, we often have to find a way to look at the bright side of things. And although the cons far outweigh the pros, there are a few “perks” to having a chronic illness.
I’ve compiled the pros list here:
1. Healthier hair. So here’s the thing, when you feel like absolute crap and have already quit all of your extra curricular activities, you don’t get out much. And to completely honest with you, if I’m not going out, I don’t waste my spoons on a long, energy sucking, and oftentimes painful shower. This means I don’t wash my hair very often, and even when I do, I hardly ever take the time to style it with heated products (hair dryer, flat iron, etc.). So overall, in the past five years my hair has grown exponentially more than in the two years after I originally cut my hair short. It’s also much shinier and thicker. This “perk” doesn’t apply to every person with a chronic illness. When I was on my highest dosage of medication, my hair would fall out in big chunks. Others have medication or diseases that cause them not to have healthy hair either. But for a certain group of us spoonies, we get healthier hair than the rest of you. Though this may seem like a very small win, it can make all the difference. Sometimes when I look in the mirror and see all the weight that I’ve been forced to put on since my first surgery, being able to look at my hair and say, “Well at least my hair looks fabulous!” can change my attitude for the day.
2. Handicap parking placard. Now I am fully aware I just did a post on Tuesday about how chraintims* are NOT lucky to have a handicap placard. Please notice I am not using the word lucky here. And even though we have the same amount of exhaustion walking from our parking spot to the door as someone who had the furthest spot possible, it’s still a “perk”. Any family and friends with me don’t have to make the extra long walk, and on the rare days that I am feeling good, I still get my parking spot.
3. Built in excuse. For practically any event. Ever. After a certain number of years (and well advertised blog posts) friends and family are generally aware of your illness. We may sometimes use this to our advantage. There have been certain times when I probably could have mustered up the energy to go to a family outing, but really, I just didn’t want to. Lucky for me, all I have to do is say, “Out of spoons!” and I’m immediately excused.
4. Better writer. Whether you become a blogger or not, every chraintim’s writing ability improves after becoming sick. Mostly because the written word becomes our main form of communication! We talk to people on Facebook, email, Tweet, write thank you cards (to the people who send us something to aid our healing process), and some of us start blogs. This is actually a great skill to have developed. No matter what you do in life, writing will always be involved someway, somehow. I’ve mostly put my writing skills to work recently writing clear, but friendly responses to people’s ridiculous outrage and misconceptions about marriage equality on Facebook.
I don’t care if I lose readers or subscribers for making this opinion clear: I support equality for everyone! That is never a bad thing.
5. Politically informed. Now this one may just be me, but since I spend so much time resting in bed, I often use that time to go online and watch political satirists. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they are people like Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, John Oliver of Last Week Tonight, and Philip DeFranco of The Philip DeFranco Show. (DeFranco is more of a YouTube entertainment reporter, but I love him all the same.) These people and their shows are the solution to the excuse, “The news is just so depressing and sad, I can’t even watch it anymore.” All of these men have me laughing out loud as they inform me on issues like foreign affairs and racism and inequality in America. They do what all the best teachers did in school, they make learning fun. Now I’m informed on what’s going on in the world and can get a good laugh in every day. I suggest you check all of these shows out, though I will warn you they all have fairly liberal views on politics.
6. Enhanced technology skills. If you had to spend the majority of your life laying down or in a hospital bed, you’d get real good at finding ways to entertain yourself too! In this day and age, the only way to really do that is through technology. Whether you learn how to use an iPhone or become more familiar with your television, iPad, or computer, we all know this has happened. Since I’ve gotten sick I’ve learned how to build and run my own website and have become an amateur computer expert. Just last night I helped a friend solve a problem with his Mac; that’s something I never would have been able to do five years ago.
All of these “perks” are opportunities that have been made available because of our chronic illnesses. This doesn’t mean our illnesses aren’t a big deal, or that they don’t make each and every day a real struggle. All I’m saying is sometimes all we can do is deal with the bad and be grateful for the good. I hope this list of “perks” made you aware of a couple of extra items you can add to your Pros List to be grateful for.
What’s on your Pros List? Is there anything you’d like to add to this article? If so, please let me know with a comment below!
*Chraintim is a word I made up that abbreviates the phrase “chronic pain victim”, which I got tired of typing repeatedly. Plus, the word is kind of cool. You should try using it too! #chraintim