LTCI #2: Am I my family’s keeper?

How’s your mum? How’s your sister?’

These are questions I get a lot. They’re great questions. They mean people are thinking about my sick family members, and it shows that the people around me understand that their illnesses are a rather large part of my life.

Most of the time I appreciate the time taken to ask a question like this, and the implied preparedness of the Asker to listen to a ‘deep’ response.

The other week though, I got asked this question twice, and each time it left me feeling guilty.

I bumped into my landlady as I was leaving my house, and she stopped me with a smile, and asked, ‘How is your mum going? And your sister’s health – how is it?’

I smiled in reply – and then froze.

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Why my blog will never go viral (reflecting on 2017 as a Watcher)

What I’ve learnt from blogging about chronic illness on Called to Watch

At the moment, even as I’m preparing to look forward to Christmas, 2018, and the future – I’m also looking back.

This is what I’ve learnt:

1. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose

Blogging over the past year has taught me that Watching is a ‘thing’. By this, I mean, loving someone with a chronic illness is a state of being worth talking about. It’s a relationship worth sharing.

It’s actually an important part of who I am – just as it’s a crucial element to who a lot of people are!
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The gift that wasn’t for her (LTCI #1)

As the shops get busier and my drive home after a late night shift becomes increasingly well-lit thanks to the current Christmas light epidemic, I’ve decided to introduce a new blog ‘series’.

Love in a Time of Chronic Illness (LTCI)

Many of my posts are either ‘answers’ or ‘explanations’ relating to the difficulties and loneliness-es of loving someone with a chronic illness.

I’ve never proposed to have the ‘only-exclusively-right’ answers to every situation of course. (Unless the Answer is Jesus, in which case I do!) But I write what I’ve learnt and I describe what’s encouraged me.

But for a while now I’ve been nursing a fear that perhaps these posts are portraying me unrealistically.

Eight hundred polished words are not the same as a polished life.
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Why you should sympathise with first world problems (when your own are much bigger)

I stubbed my toe.
I can’t afford concert tickets.
There’s no chocolate in my house.
Who hasn’t heard such complaints? From friends, colleagues – perhaps from yourself.

We often label them “first world problems”.
And they can be annoying. Especially as Watchers.
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3 things a stomach bug taught me about chronic illness

This week I was sick. Not chronically sick. Not even break-your-leg sick or appendicitis-need-operation sick. Merely stomach bug sick.

Uncomfortable, rather depressing, but half a week later and I was over it and back at work.
But something had changed.
While I was unwell I learned three very important truths about chronic illness – and I don’t want to ever forget them.

3 things I learnt about being chronically ill

1. Chronic illness means you are ill.

Don’t get me wrong, I never thought it was a walk in the park.

All my life my mum has battled various autoimmune diseases, and in the past few years I’ve watched my younger sister go through many similar struggles. I know personally how chronic illness can drain families, disrupt lives and sabotage futures.

But there’s nothing like being sick yourself to remember that the act of being sick in itself is awful.

It’s not just about the consequences or the collateral damage.

The minute-by-minute pains and nausea, the feelings of exhaustion, the frustration and the helplessness – it’s a horrible thing to experience.

I never want to forget that chronic illness means you are sick, and being sick is awful.

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