Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why I Write About My Health #NHBPM

A few years back, I realized I was approaching an important milestone: the 22nd anniversary of my leukemia cancer diagnosis.  It's a diagnosis that I received as a young adult at age 22. It was important because I knew once I got past this road mark, I would officially be living more years of my life as a cancer survivor than as a normal, healthy person.

I also came to accept around the same time that having cancer marked the beginning of my life with chronic illness.  Back in 1988, I was blissfully unaware that this could be a treatment outcome.  I thought that once I beat cancer, I was back to being 100% healthy.  That's because no one was talking about late and long term effects from cancer treatment back then, probably because not many cancer survivors were living long enough for this to be a problem.

Lucky me--I've survived cancer long enough to deal with a whole new set of health problems.

As I shared in my post My Illness Picture: Thoughts and Impressions On What It Says About Me,  I've got several cancer treatment related health problems, problems that interact and intertwine with a new crop of chronic health problems that emerged after a trip-and-fall accident in 2004.

I've spent the last 8 years of my life making sure all these health issues don't define who I am.  But they sure to explain a lot about me.  And there sure is a lot of talking I need to do about them.  In fact, over the past 8 years I've found myself wanting to discuss my health and the topic of living a better life despite chronic illness at least weekly...and sometimes on an almost daily basis!

For me,  my health problems totally rule my life.  They impact my thoughts, feelings and interactions on a daily, hourly and sometimes even on a minute by minute basis.

Unfortunately, I struggled to keep friends and family interested and engaged in an ongoing dialog with me on this subject.  What I learned is that talking about health on a regular basis was way too much for even the most supportive, kind and understanding healthy person. That's because healthy people don't usually find themselves talking about health.  That's not to say they are uninterested in the subject; they just don't have a need to discuss it regularly like I do.

As for me, I want to find my "new normal," i.e., what healthy is going to look like for me now that I am chronically sick.  The only way for me to do this is to have the opportunity and freedom to talk about all aspects of my health, the good, the bad and the ugly, whenever I want and as much as I want.

That is why I started blogging.

Today I share what is working for me in the hopes of attracting readers who will reciprocate and share with me what is working for them.  My blogging goal is to inspire others with chronic illness to discover how to rise above their health problems, to not just survive them, but thrive in spite of the challenges.  I truly believe that together we can make life better despite chronic illness.

It took time.  Back in 2009 my blog was as a soliloquy, with me writing and then patiently waiting for reader responses.  But I hung in there and waited for my blog readership to develop.  Gradually my soliloquies became diverse and interesting conversations with other people living with chronic illness just like me.  It's even spilled over into other social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.

What can I say?  My blogging has helped me get much closer to my personal goal of a better life with chronic illness.  It helps me get the support I need, points out areas that need my attention, makes sure I "walk my talk" and keeps me making progress toward my health goals, among other things.  Plus through my blog, I've been able to contribute in meaningful ways to various online chronic illness communities.

My only misgiving about writing about my health?  I can't figure out a way to make it help pay my bills!  Although maybe someone reading this has some ideas for me on how I can accomplish this too...

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