I enjoy reading the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation's blog entitled "Conquering Sjogren's". The most recent post, 10 Lessons From a Great Teacher is written by Alida Brill and it's a gem:
Most of us have memories of a teacher who influenced our lives. I certainly do. But my greatest teacher has been chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease. Obviously, I use the word great here not as in “wonderful” but as in “of extraordinary importance and weight.”
A few years ago a young woman approached me after a talk I gave about living with chronic disease for my entire life (well, from twelve forward, so close enough). She wanted to know precisely what I meant when I said: At the end of it all, it really hasn’t been all bad.
Understandably, she wanted to know what wasn’t all bad about always being unwell. She had been recently diagnosed with Lupus and saw the life she had known and valued disappearing. She was overwhelmed by the unknown and confused by conflicting medical opinions about treatment options. I said a few things, likely not useful, but her question stuck with me. Precisely what do I mean when I say that?
During virtually all of last year I was sidelined from doing almost anything as I went from one autoimmune crisis to the next. The only thing I could do consistently was to let my mind spin out of control, which often took me to destructive destinations. That young woman kept appearing in my daydreams. If I were to offer anything useful to others who live on this planet of chronic illness, I had better come up with something to back up the platitude. At first I thought the deeper meaning was that I pay more attention to the things that count in life, and less to those that don’t. But many of us do that, whether we’re ill or not. I spent some time thinking about how to fashion a life of illness into a life of lessons. Here is how illness itself became a great teacher to me, and the ten lessons I took from it. Continue reading here.