by Peter Waite
If you have a chronic illness, you know a little something about sacrifice. Because of my chronic illness, I've learned to make a lot of sacrifices. I used to love mountain biking. But I had to give it up. I just don't have the energy and the pain that follows can be excruciating. That was a sacrifice that I had to accept. But there are 3 sacrifices I refuse to make because of my chronic illness.
1. I won't sacrifice who I am.
As my friend Kerri says, "Diabetes doesn't define me, but it helps explain me". I've had to make some adjustments to my goals and ambitions over the years because of chronic illness, but I won't allow it to to overtake my identity. I get sick, but I am not the "sick guy". I have pain, but I won't let pain consume me. It explains a little about what I do, but not who I am.
So who am I? I'm a loving and compassionate man who cares about his family and the welfare of those around him. I'm a creative person driven by a desire to make things in this world that both uplift and endure (HealingWell is one of those things). I'm someone people can trust and count on. Those traits, I hope, are who I am. I am not my illness.
2. I won't sacrifice time with my family.
It's not easy, especially as a married father of 4 young kids. For me, time is precious. I'm as busy or busier than most dads I know. I work full time, then after work I put in several hours each day to keep HealingWell running. I also serve in my church which can take up a lot of extra time. I try to pace myself but there isn't always a lot of time left over to rest and recuperate, much less spend quality time with my family.
But I try. I try to make time, even if I'm not feeling well. To me there is nothing more important than being a good husband and father. I try even though I sometimes fail. Being good father means spending time with them, encouraging them, inspiring them, and loving them. My kids know that I am sick more than their friends' dads, but they don't feel any less loved because of it. It's funny but I probably love them more because of it.
3. I won't sacrifice my faith in God.
I made this decision soon after my diagnosis after looking more deeply at what I really believe. Some people ask why did God let this happen to me? I know I did. At least in the beginning.
But eventually I turned it around. Now I ask what does God want me to learn from this experience? How can I become a better person through it? How can I use my experience to help others? If anything, my faith in God has grown since I was diagnosed and my family has been blessed because of it.
What are you unwilling to sacrifice with chronic illness?
Peter Waite, M.S., M.A. is founder and CEO of HealingWell.com, and holds graduate degrees from Utah State University and Brandeis University. Founded in 1997, HealingWell.com is the foremost support community on diseases, conditions, and chronic illness. HealingWell.com has been featured by BBC Online, USA Today, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Industry Standard, Reader's Digest, PBS.org, Forbes.com, and USA Weekend Magazine. HealingWell.com has also been the recipient of numerous health industry awards. He enjoys spending his free time with his wife and four children.