Before receiving my first chronic illness diagnosis in 2001, I would have scoffed at the idea of celebrating anything other than hearing my doctor say that all tests came back showing nothing wrong. However, my attitude changed quickly when one test after another showed nothing wrong when their clearly was something very wrong…….
I have celebrated each and everyone one of my diagnoses. It wasn’t because I wanted to be sick. Seriously, who in their right mind would want to have psoriasis, fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, degenerative disc disease, coccydynia, and a belly full of adhesions (from endometriosis and surgical scarring) that to this day are attacking her bowls and bladder? Not me!
You are probably wondering why I would even contemplate celebrating a list of conditions that aren’t curable. I have celebrated each one, because they gave me insight to what was going on in my body. Instead of knowing something was wrong, but having no clue as to if there was something I could do different to make it better or if I was making it worse was maddening. Knowing what I was dealing with helped me move on.
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Having a diagnosis validated my instinct. Like when I knew there was something severely wrong going on in my belly, yet 22 surgeons either blamed it on fibromyalgia or said it was all in my head. Click here to read about how their ignorance and refusal to listen to me put my life in danger. Every nurse and physician in the recovery area were in shock and horrified by what my surgeon had discovered during surgery, but not me. I was smiling ear to ear, because his findings validated everything I had been saying for two years! I wanted to go to the rooftop and shout “Who’s crazy now??!!!???!!”
Without a diagnosis, friends and family believed each and everyone of those incompetent surgeons. They would even suggest to my face that I wanted to be sick. Living without a diagnosis is devastating, not just physically, but it has the ability to kill relationships. Do you know how hard it is to trust those who believed the physicians over me? To this day, there are some relationships that will never be mended.
I could research symptoms until the cows came home and still have no idea what was going on. Having a diagnosis to research gave me insight to what my future may look like. It helped me accept that I had to make changes to how I lived, did things, and what I expected from my life as I grew older. A diagnosis allowed me to let go of my old life, to make modifications to how I did things, to experiment and find ways to improve my health and lower my pain.
Having a diagnosis makes talking with others a little less frustrating. Instead of saying I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me, I had a disease to declare! Of course nobody seems to get that my diseases are not curable, but that’s another issue. At least I had a name of an illness that they could look up to learn more if they chose.
A diagnosis made it possible to meet others who are experiencing the same thing. While we each have our own unique struggles, it is nice to bounce ideas off of each other and sometimes we find something that helps us all.
Do I wish I had never become chronically ill? Of course, but I am thankful for each diagnosis, because without them I wouldn’t have been able to find a way to live with my symptoms or to reduce the pain that comes with them.
Was there a time in your life that you knew something was wrong, yet all the tests came back showing nothing wrong? How long did it take for you to be diagnosed and what was your reaction?