No, I am NOT my diagnosis

As many of you know I was treated for acute leukemia in 2001. Miraculously, I am still alive! But treatment left behind a secondary condition, called Graft versus Host Disease (GVHD). I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say I have had the persistent experience of living with a chronic and sometimes debilitating disease . Most of the time, I am able to see this condition as a teacher – reminding me to be in the present, to engage in self-care and to take an active role in every aspect of my life.

I have been remarkably healthy – rarely a cold or flu, just normal aging of joints, etc. But this winter I've had two bouts of the flu, followed by a case of bronchitis that wouldn't leave. I was painfully reminded how difficult it can be to see beyond the exhaustion, the coughing, and the inability to exercise or work.

As I navigated my way through this, I was reminded of four points that work for me.

  1. Be in the experience of the present moment. Notice sensations and thoughts. When my mind wanders to how bad I feel or what I wish I were doing, I come back to now. And I have a host of tools for helping me with this.
  2. Find something to appreciate that is true now. I remember once asking myself what that could be as I sat on a bathroom floor staring at the inside of a toilet bowl during chemo. It's not easy, but it is possible.
  3. Listen to something that soothes and engages. This can be a guided imagery CD, an inspirational speaker, or music.
  4. Want what I have and stop spending mental energy wanting things to be different.


What works for you? I