Inspiration from Meghan

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Finding Blessings In Disease and Illness


Written by our fave former intern Sondi Bruner, reporting from her Vancouver kitchen.

You probably think I'm nuts.

Sickness can be painful, ugly, stressful, agonizing, tragic, wretched, humiliating, sad.

So what's to be grateful for?

I used to whine a lot about having Crohn's disease. I felt sorry for myself. I adopted a 'Why me, why does my body hate me so much?' kinda attitude. It was me against my intestines – and it seemed as if my intestines were always winning.

Sure, Crohn's disease sucks. I've been on loads of medications, I've spent countless hours doubled over in hospital ERs, I've had a foot of bowel removed. It took me a long time to recognize all of the amazing gifts having this disease has brought me, but here I am, talking about illness like it's a blessing and totally meaning it.

Here are a few reasons why we can all be grateful for our illnesses:

  • Disease and illness are the body's way of telling us what isn't working. Our bodies know what's up, even if our minds don't. Symptoms, whether they are minor or more serious, are signals that what we're doing – overeating, smoking, drinking, working long hours, hanging on to a relationship that isn't fulfilling, whatever – isn't making us happy or healthy. The biggest challenge, of course, is learning how to listen. But it's nice to have these signs, so we can do something about it. Which leads me to my next point...
  • Disease and illness give us a chance to change, before it's too late. Nobody is the picture of health one moment and horrendously ill the next. Most of the time, it's a long road down to sicky-town, and we don't get there overnight. I grew up with a penchant for bagels, chocolate, candy, ice cream and cake. If it wasn't for a potentially life-threatening disease, I may never have changed my ways and could have ended up with an illness at age 60 that was far more serious. The good news is, even when confronted with severe, chronic diseases, there is still a chance to turn things around (hey, Meghan did it). It's never too late to choose to live more healthfully.
  • Disease and illness allow us to experience things we may not have otherwise. Being sick can change your path and expose you to people, places and adventures you wouldn't have considered before. If I didn't have Crohn's, would I have quit my job at 30? Gone back to school to learn an entirely new field and made a whole bunch of incredible friends? Moved to Toronto for three months to play with Meghan and her awesome group of peeps? Maybe. But probably not.
  • Disease and illness remind us to make every day count. It doesn't matter how much money you have, how great your last vacation was, how many friends you've got, how pretty your hair looks, how sweet your apartment is. Because when you feel like garbage, you can't enjoy any of it. There's nothing quite like an illness to get you out of the future or past and into the present. Being sick reminds us that our time here is fleeting, and we should take advantage of every moment and enjoy it.

Of course, disease is not all sunshine and puppies. Everyone feels frustrated and negative about their lives sometimes. I was recently talking to a friend about my path to healing, and I mentioned how disappointed I was in my latest blood results, what wasn't going right, what I needed to do better.

Her response? “Sondi, the fact that you have been able to go off of your medication and feel as well as you do is something that should be celebrated every single day when you wake up in the morning.”

That really shoved some perspective into me, folks.

The point is not to dwell on the crappy aspects of illness, or pine for days when you might feel better, but to notice all the wonderful moments in between.

So let's raise a glass (of green juice) to good health, as well as bad health, because both of them give us reasons to appreciate our time on this earth.

Sondi Bruner a holistic nutritionist, food blogger and freelance writer who can’t stop dreaming about what to create in the kitchen.  You can find her blogging here and follow her on Twitter here.

24 Responses to “Finding Blessings In Disease and Illness”

  1. What a beautiful post, Sondi! I know that if I hadn't gotten sick, I wouldn't have learned so many things: patience, self-awareness, accepting myself and others, just to name a few. And I can also say, since I have a 10 week old puppy... puppies are enormously challenging! :)
  2. Mark said…
    Hello Sondi. I have one quick question for you regarding health. Have you ever used food grade hydrogen peroxide starting at 3 drops 3 times per day, working your way up one drop per day, to 25 drops 3 times per day? I would be very interested to hear your opinion on this, and how it may affect your crohns disease.
  3. [...] I wrote earlier in the year in the guest post Finding Blessings in Disease and Illness, the point here is not to dwell on the crappy aspects of illness, or pine for days when I might [...]
  4. Marta said…
    Hi Megan. I found your article about dealing with chronic desease NOT by chance but fortunately because I was looking for a way to help my hubby who suffers the illness. I believe in finding the positive side of everything in life in order to get good things and in being greatluf for even being alive but my hubby cannot come to terms with the idea of having an operation & a stoma for 12 months. I’m very sorry to ask you but I need HELP as in HOW to guide him into this positive thinking. He’s terrified with the idea and I’m desesperate because I don’t know how to help him. Any ideas or suggestions will be more than welcome. Thank you in advance and God bless you for this blog
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi Marta. I'm sorry to hear that your husband isn't well. I find meditation and gratitude practices to be immensely helpful in changing the way we think and improving our outlook on life. You can find more about practicing gratitude here: I also include a bunch of books and resources in the mind-body section of this post: Keep in mind that you can offer him resources and inspiration, but you can't force change on anyone - that has to come from people doing their own work from within. You may find that you need extra help, so you could consider getting in touch with your health practitioner about a recommendation for counselling. Your husband is fortunate to have you there by his side to support him on his journey!

Before you post your comment, please note that I am unable to offer nutritional advice or recommendations via my blog.

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