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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shutterstock_114512791 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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shutterstock_112225664 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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shutterstock_247007314 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 ...

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A year ago, KevinMD.com was kind enough to post my piece, 10 Tips from 10 Years Sick. Well, a year has gone by and I’m still sick. So, I’ve re-visited that post, changing several of the tips and adding to others. And, of course, there are now 11 tips, not 10! At the end of the piece, I hope you’ll share your own experiences. 1. The onset of chronic illness ...

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Last year, I was referred to two different dermatologists because I have two skin conditions and each dermatologist is an expert on one of them. (I know how fortunate I am to have access to this level of medical care.) Something amusing happened at each visit. After examining me and deciding on a course of treatment, the first dermatologist said, “When you get home, don’t look up this condition on the ...

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Labels matter. We quickly form judgments based on them. If we hear someone called lazy, the label “lazy person” attaches in our mind even though we may not have even met the person. The same is true for labels given to various medical conditions. If the label for an illness uses language such as “fatigue,” we abstract from our experience and think we know what it’s like to suffer from ...

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It’s that time of year. The media is filled with stories about people traveling to be with loved-ones. Holiday decorations and yummy recipes abound. But for many people, the holidays are a difficult time of year. This piece is for those of you who face isolation during the holidays, either because you’re unable to be with others at all due to health or financial limitations (which often go hand in ...

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