Sunday Thoughts: My Life with Chronic Illness

Growing up I always took things for granted - my health, my stable family and the fact that I got relatively good grades and knew from a young age my future career path. I suppose that is like all young people. We are always taught we can be whatever we want to be and no-one expects to fall ill or have something that can truly impact their ambitions. My adult life has been pretty stable, I got engaged at 21, I passed university with a first class degree and my future looked bright and cheerful. It was in during my final year at university my health started becoming a burden. I developed joint pains and rashes and I felt so tired. I had really bad anaemia and struggled to stay awake most days. A month before I handed in my dissertation and around 9 months of feeling weak, I was finally diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

I felt like my world was crashing down and the future I once dreamt of felt like it was impossible achieve. Luckily after playing around with my medication my health grew stronger and although I have 'flare ups' my arthritis seems under control. I had regained a part of my life and my future seemed brighter. Then earlier this year I started becoming ill again, this time it wasn't my joints but my stomach. I suffered from very painful stomach spasms and ended up in hospital six times. The doctors decided it was my gallbladder and in July I had an operation to remove it. Yet again, I felt optimistic and kept reassuring myself it was only a tiny set back. That was until I was hospitalised again a further two times with the most pain I have ever experienced. I was screaming down A&E pleading with the doctors to take the pain away, morphine didn't even touch the surface. I cried for days, writhing around in agony. Since my last hospital admission I have undergone several tests and finally been diagnosed with a very rare stomach disorder called Sphincter of the Oddi dysfunction that causes my stomach to spasm due to problems with my bile ducts. The condition also causes frequent jaundice and uncontrollable sickness. I can go a few weeks without a spasm then it hits me when I least expect it. Yet again I was told by doctors that they cannot completely treat it and there's a chance it may never go away, it is a chronic illness. 

I'm not going to lie, the last few weeks have been a bit of a haze. I have days where I feel like I can conquer anything then the next day I feel like I want to spend hours curled up in pain just wondering what the future holds. Everyday I'm drugged up to the eyeballs on medication and work, blogging and even general life is more tiring than it used to be. People have commented saying I seem withdraw and unhappy. It's usually when I have a bad pain day. Everyday I'm struck with the thought that I'm on 24 and I should be planning my career, but right now I feel like I'm planning my retirement.

I've learnt that dwelling on my problems isn't the way forward. Although I'm going through this right now, it doesn't always mean it is forever. After all, no-one can predict what the future brings. All I know is that I need to stay positive, work hard and know when my body needs rest. My doctor keeps telling me 'you have all your life to live and work', it doesn't matter if you take a few days out to rest. Although it is hard in a fast paced modern society, she is right. I need to focus on getting my life back on track, to focus on coming to terms with what I have and most importantly, learning to adapt so that I can live the future I want,  I just might have to go a different route.

I haven't wrote this post for sympathy, I've done this for all those out there going through the same as me, to raise awareness of SOD and although this post seems a bit doom and gloom, to let people know that chronic illness isn't the end of everything.



  1. You are a tough cookie, but don't forget to look after yourself! x

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