Mandy – 1997. Cape Town – South Africa
Coping with chronic illness
Chronic illness has been a part of my life since I was born. At first I was unaffected by any health issues and my diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) at the age of two was not a huge deal for me personally. My mother had Cystic Fibrosis too and she was struggling with the effects of a disease that gets worse as you age. When I was 25 years old I was still able to deal with a chest infection by taking oral medication. This soon came to an end when I contracted a rare blood disorder whilst on an Air France training course in Paris.
I returned to South Africa, where I was living at the time, and within days I was in a coma in hospital receiving blood plasma transfusions and looking very ill. My condition deteriorated when I caught pneumonia, suffered multiple organ failure and lost my hair. A tracheotomy was performed to help me breathe with assistance from a machine.
It was a tough time, I lost nearly 10 kilograms but I survived. After 6 weeks in intensive care I finally began to improve. The blood disorder is known as TTP and is very rare. Since then, Cystic Fibrosis (aka chronic illness) has made itself known and I was no longer able to manage a chest infection on my own. Two week hospital stays receiving intravenous antibiotics took the place of oral medication and it took a few years before I was able to have intravenous medication at home.
My life has always worked according to what my health will allow. It can be extremely frustrating at times when I have loads to do yet my body is unable to find the energy to comply.
I have survived a near fatal experience and manage chronic illness daily without allowing it affect my morale indefinitely. I allow myself ‘poor me parties’ but there is always a strict curfew. The way we think about our circumstances can make or break our experience of life.
I can give in to the thoughts that tell me I am sick and can’t do anything or I can focus on thoughts that help me to feel more hopeful about my abilities and the future.
Choose thoughts that empower you and offer opportunities and possibilities rather than limiting you and closing down what might be possible.
It’s not what happens to you but how you interpret and adapt to your circumstances!
Photo by Internet Archive Book Images
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