Blessings Despite illness

I’ve had a few fantasies over the years—one was to be a regular on American Bandstand during the 1950s or 1960s. I wanted to live in Dick Clarke’s land. My other fantasy was to be Annette Funicello in the 1960s Beach Blanket Bingo movies because of her hair, curves, and well, Frankie Avalon. Those dreams would require time travel. Unlike them, I had another dream growing up that does not: I wanted to be a member of the Huxtable Family.  As an only child, I loved The Cosby Show.  I wanted a brother or sister.

Wanting What People With Siblings Have

Don’t get me wrong:  I am thankful for the family I have. I have great parents and many cousins. Our family is very close. We have on average forty relatives at one family gathering. And I know some people have crappy siblings who never call. But it’s like carrying a cane—I’m fully aware that my friends in wheelchairs have it worse than I do but there are times when I’d like to walk without concentrating on not falling down. When I go to people’s houses, I see picture-frames that say “siblings” or “sisters” with happy photos of wedding receptions and trips to Disneyland. They have walls full of portraits with brothers and sisters. I realized early on in life that nobody would ever call me “sister.”

Chronic illness:  Failed Plans and Adjusting Dreams

People with chronic illness are constantly adjusting our dreams. We make plans for the day but pain, fatigue, or mood swings hijack them. Sometimes we postpone or let go of long-term goals. Before I got sick in 2008 with Myasthenia Gravis, I was applying to law school. At this point in my life, I don’t have the energy to go to graduate school. I’m not sure if I ever will. That being said, other dreams can spring up in spite of (or even because of) illness. Every week, I hear from readers who say this blog inspires them. Five years ago, I never dreamed I’d have this blog or that I would meet so many brave readers that inspire me.

My Confidante

Last week, my friend Ron emailed me. He’s applying to a job; they asked him to write about his best friend.  Ron2Ron and I have known each other since college—he was a sophomore when I was a senior.  I remember one time when I was bedridden for over a year—in pain from my illnesses and surgeries. One day, he called me to check up on me. This was our conversation:

Ron:             What’s your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?

Me:             11!

Ron:             What was it two months ago?

Me:             20.

Ron:             Well there you go—that’s an improvement.

Me:             (Laughter)

Somehow, some way, through all of my tears, he found a way to make me laugh.

A Brother?

This is Ron’s answer to the question: Tell us about your closest friend. How long have you known him/her; and what do you like best about him/her?

My closest friend’s name is Jessica; I’ve known her since 2004… She is an amazing sister in Christ…who has had to face many challenges in her life. She is literally like an older sister to me that I met in college. We share a similar ailment, but she has also had to face many more challenges in life than I have…She is a very caring person, who genuinely wants to know how YOU are when she asks you “how are you?” and not just on a superficial level. I like that she is very honest and open with what she’s dealing with, expects me to do the same, and prays for me…She has been a very good friend through many different life stages of mine, and I have been there to listen to her days and listen to what she’s going through…

When I read that, I cried. While other dreams have slipped away because of illness, a big one came true.  I finally have a brother.  Illness doesn’t have to take everything away.

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno


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Hi there! I am a patient advocate, writer, and public speaker most well known for my TEDx Talk, “How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed.” As someone who is juggling 5 illnesses: bipolar 2, myasthenia gravis, endometriosis, psoriasis, and asthma, I’m passionate about helping people who navigate life with both chronic physical & emotional pain. If you’re interested in hiring me to speak at your event, check out the CONTACT tab.

One thought on “Blessings Despite illness

  • May 24, 2014 at 2:23 am

    Love you Sis! You are amazing!!! =P


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