Friday, February 28, 2014

Why I Blog

This post is written in response to a call for submissions from Leslie Rott for a new blog carnival for the Partnership for Palliative Care, where she's currently interning.

My mystery lady -- do you think she knows the answer to my mystery illness? 

I started this blog for the same reason most patient blogs were started: I got sick in 2007, and it became overwhelming to keep my family updated and to keep answering the same questions about which doctors I'd seen, which tests I'd had and what the results were, and so forth.

More than that, though, it became an emotional outlet for me, and a connection to other people who were also dealing with life-changing illnesses. After all, I'd gone from being a stay-at-home mom of an energetic toddler (that's probably a redundant phrase, isn't it? are there any toddlers that aren't energetic?) to barely being able to care for myself, seemingly overnight.

That connection to the chronic illness community, which I'd never known existed, was a lifeline. There's a shared experience among people with chronic illnesses, no matter the diagnosis. And it was so comforting to have the empathy from people who had been there, done that, and were coping somehow.

For me, the initial onset of my chronic illness (the acute phase, if you will, and then some) was an emotional roller coaster. The high doses of Prednisone I was on didn't help with that! And there was something cathartic about putting it all out there into the void of the Internet. Honestly, I think blogging would have been helpful to me, emotionally, even if no one ever read my blog. The fact that people did read it (especially people not related to me!) was a miracle, and some of those people became friends, whether I ever meet them in person or not.

Blogging also helped me process what was happening to me. I'm a writer -- I've been one since childhood, and I spent my professional life as a reporter and editor. I sometimes think my brain doesn't really understand anything unless or until it's gone through my fingertips on a computer keyboard. Writing about the various tests I've undergone required me to research them a bit so I could explain them, and in doing so, I understood the tests and my results better than I did in my doctor's office.

It's a little ironic for me to be posting about "why I blog about my chronic illness" because, as some of you know, I don't blog often anymore. But I still feel a strong connection to this blog, and its readers, and the rest of the chronic illness community. My health is in a holding pattern: I often feel like I'm holding on by my fingernails, but I haven't lost my grip yet. I decided my quality of life was better when I minimized my doctor visits, and while I still see doctors more often than my very healthy husband or child, my only appointments most weeks are with my acupuncturist (whose work has had a huge impact on my quality of life).