If only our lives were more predictable and certain, we’d feel a greater sense of security and safety. Yet, much of what happens to us is beyond our ability to control. This is true whether we live in a third-world country or in the most advanced scientific and technological environment. It’s also true whether we’re struggling to make ends meet or living in the lap of luxury. No one is immune ...

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From years of writing about chronic pain and illness, I’ve learned that young people carry several extra burdens, especially when their disability is invisible (as is more often the case than not). This piece focuses on young people, although some of its points apply to people of any age, depending on their circumstances. 1. Young people are treated as if their health issues can’t possibly be chronic. I confess that before I ...

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In a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, “Quality of life: impact of chronic illness on the partner,” the authors stated: "… the most striking research finding is a tendency for the partner’s quality of life to be worse than that of the patient." The people who are least likely to be surprised by this finding are not just caregivers, but those who are in their ...

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As we reflect on the year that’s passing, it’s not unusual to formulate wishes and resolutions for the new year. I’m not much for resolutions anymore, but I do have hopes and wishes for me and for my readers. Of course, my first wish is that those of you who suffer from chronic illness -- including chronic pain -- have your health restored. I know that, for some, this is a ...

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I’ve been chronically ill since I contracted a viral infection in 2001. Were I to recover, I’d take these six hard-earned lessons with me into the land of the healthy. 1. Less is more. I used to be an accumulator. My life was filled with stuff: books and magazines that sat unread; CDs; jewelry; knickknacks and trinkets; clothing and all its accompaniments (shoes, belts, scarves). Since becoming sick, I’ve learned that less ...

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I love to-do lists. I depended on them when I was working outside the home. I’ve depended them since my bed became my office. The one difference is that, pre-illness, I had fancy notepads and appointment books in which to keep my lists. Now I scribble them on any random piece of paper I can find. A few weeks ago, I realized I could benefit from a not-to-do list that would ...

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6 tips to prevent being intimidated at the doctors office I’ve had my share of unsuccessful experiences with doctors and at medical clinics, including being intimidated by them. But after twelve years of chronic illness, I’m happy to report that I’m doing better in this uncomfortable setting. Here are six strategies to help minimize the odds you’ll be intimidated and to help ensure you make the most of the short time allotted ...

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When I began to gather my thoughts for this piece, I asked my husband what he thought. It was eye-opening. Even after twelve years of illness, I forget that his life has been impacted as much as mine by my health limitations. This is partly because he’s changed his major task in life to that of caregiver and partly because we can no longer do most of the things we ...

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Being chronically ill or in pain can feel like a full time job Suffering from chronic pain or illness—or, as is often the case, both—can feel like a full-time job. One reason for this is that we must constantly assess and evaluate if we’re managing our health and our relationships as skillfully as possible. This ongoing decision making makes up a major part of the workload in this full-time job—a position we certainly never applied ...

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It’s easy for those with health problems to complain about what we don’t want to hear others say to us, but I thought it might be helpful to let others know what we wish they would say to us. “You look so good, but how are you really feeling?” It’s hard for us to respond to comments like, “You look so good” (or the always dreaded, “But you don’t look sick”) because ...

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