Happy Memorial Weekend! How To Cope And Survive When Illness Knocks You Down…

We live in predictable patterns involving every aspect of life. Every morning we expect our day to be as we’ve planned it. And we don’t want any unexpected situations forcing us down a different path. Usually, our plans are easily fulfilled, and our days are as they should be. No problem. Everything’s under control, and all is well.

But we don’t live in a fairy tale. Our world is real, and unforeseen things do happen, like a check bounces at the bank, the car has a flat tire, or you forgot an important appointment, etc. Bothersome interruptions, but solvable. And that’s okay. You’ve been there before, and you understand that life sometimes gets bumpy, and you have to roll with it. 

“I can and will make it through the storm…simply because I’m a survivor. It’s what I do.”  ~ Unknown

But what happens when a sudden unexpected illness temporarily invades your predictable life, like the flu, various viral infections, a chest cold that turns into pneumonia, etc, etc. Such health challenges are not life threatening, but they put your life on hold, and they require more than a band-aid. And what about the more serious chronic illnesses like COPD, diabetes, a heart condition, etc…illnesses that require a lifetime of attention. Whatever the illness, they all take their toll. And your life is changed. But you can survive.

“You’re allowed to scream, you’re allowed to cry, but do not give up.”  ~Unknown

Recently I spent 6 days in a hospital, then a slow recovery at home. Hospitals are there to promote healing, but the experience can add stress to what you’re already going through. In the hospital, every time there was a change of shifts, the new shift contradicted what the last shift required. And I felt like a ball bounced back and forth by the different shifts. One said get out of bed and move around, and the next one jumped all over me for getting out of bed and moving around. I ended up yelling at the walls and crying to go home. The whole thing was like a page out of the movie, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” I had to come home to begin healing.

We experience illness on 3 levels, physically, mentally, and emotionally. In our response we may physically see or feel it; mentally we think about it, “Can I afford the medical bills? How can I function with it?” etc; and emotionally we feel angry, scared, frustrated, helpless, etc.

Each illness will manifest in different ways. One may involve physical pain with fear and frustration. Another may involve guilt, worry, or resentment. Another added expense, loss of mobility and independence, leaving you feeling helpless. And each person responds in different ways. Some perceive even a minor illness as devastating, while others take it in stride. The way you perceive it depends upon your personality, your life situation, and the way you view your life.


“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”  ~Arthur Ashe

How do you respond when illness knocks you down? Have you ever thought about the way in which you deal with it? Knowing and understanding yourself at those times supplies a sense of control and is the first step in the healing process as you implement other resources. But once you’ve made that first assessment, it’s important to quiet your mind and allow your body to heal.

Too often, some in the medical field have a ‘one size fits all’ agenda. But this is the last attitude a person in pain needs or wants. One size doesn’t fit all. You are unique, and you need individual care. So when you need medical care, look for a care giver who cares.

“People start to heal the moment they feel heard.”  ~ Cheryl Richardson

Have you ever felt alone in a health challenge? Have you ever longed for someone to hear you and put their arm around you and tell you you’ll be okay? Well, that someone is a major part of your healing. So find that person, and allow their caring energy to help you heal. And whether you’re facing a temporary or permanent situation, look within for guidance, strength, and confidence, knowing you will always be the same beautiful soul that you are. And no illness can ever change that.


I wish you healthy days and loving arms around you.

Marilyn Fowler
Author, and writer for “Keys To Recovery,”  “Silent Echoes”  and  “Me and Granmama in the Hill Country”