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  • Jessica Stong

3 Lessons From My Illness

We’re back!

Phew, it’s been a trying couple of months. You might have noticed a bit of silence on our end. Well, we took an unexpected and uninvited hiatus. Life is like that - we never know what each day will bring. We can plan (and should do so), but there are times when we have to surrender to the experiences and the changes they bring.

I wanted to share with you a few items that I’ve learned during my extended break.

Family and friends are your biggest support. (I can barely write about this without such deep emotion.) I had a loving and patient husband who was with me every step of the way. He had to fight for me when I couldn’t do so myself. My extended family was also incredible. I had friends from near and far reach out. A meal train was organized. A friend arranged for a phone call with a specialist. Another got me a weekend consult with her sister who happens to be an exceptional neurological ophthalmologist. Friends would deliver gifts outside my door when I couldn’t walk downstairs from my bedroom on my own. Gifts, cards, and flowers arrived in my room. I felt closer and so very grateful to everyone around me than I ever imagined possible. 

You have to be your own advocate. Not just within the medical system, but in finding treatments that work for you. The doctor wanted to send me to a rehab hospital after my second stay. But with the kindness of some dear friends who own a home health care agency, I was able to get services in my home so I could be home with my family.

It’s okay (and necessary) to take breaks. People will understand. In the beginning, I felt so guilty for leaving my students in a lurch. But kindness prevails. Good people step in to help. A friend took on all my students. Her sacrifice taught me so much. I had other friends who took over my volunteer duties. I truly knew I was surrounded by such love. 

This love and support got me through the scariest and most challenging event in my life. I re-learned what my t-shirt slogan meant. (And I should mention that Kayla, the maker of all pretty things on this website and the t-shirt, was amazing in holding so much together in my absence.) I will choose courage. Even when I want to give up. Even when I had to use a walker and sleep in my dining room. Even when I wondered if my life would ever be the same.

I chose (and choose) courage. Every. Single. Day.Please join me. You too can choose courage. And it may not be as dramatic of a story. You might be overwhelmed or tired or full of fear. You might be considering a change. You might just want to live with more zest. I can tell you with certainty, you get to choose how you will live.

So choose courage. 

With love, Jess

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