28 Things I Took For Granted Before Living with Chronic Illness

Today is my 28th birthday. I do not get to celebrate with cake, or even water. I have choices to actively make: to either feel sorry for myself,or to spread gratitude.

For those of you that are new to the GH, the chronic illness I am refering to is Hyperemesis Gravidarium. You can read more about my experience with HG by clicking here or here.

My Birthday JOY Project

Rather than focusing on everything that I am missing, I want to help spread JOY.

I am asking for YOU to stop what you’re doing and think about something you usually take for granted.

Make the time today to enjoy whatever that is for you to the FULLEST.

Then, share your joy with me and others!

Share your joy by tagging @thegracehaven or using #thegracehaven

Enjoy the “mundane” things in life, the way I wish I had before battling chronic illness. You never know who or what you can lose in an instant, so be PRESENT now.

28 Things I took for Granted

Here are 28 things, in honor of turning 28, that I took for granted when I was healthy.

One day when I can enjoy them again, I will actively fight to be present and thankful for them. (Note: These are in no particular order.)

1.Water

I have not had water via my mouth in over 4 months. I miss it. I crave it.

2. Family Meals

I miss sitting at the table with my favorite people and partaking in food with them. Those shared experiences, tastes, and smells are so wonderful.

3. Preparing Meals

I used to kind of dread meal prepping or figuring out what my toddlers would eat. Now, I miss it. I cannot wait to love my family in that way again!

4. Eating in General

Can you tell I am hungry? Being tube fed does not remove the desire to eat and taste actual food. Stop and really taste your food, and be grateful for the ability to experience flavor!

5. Showers

Showering with a central line and stomach port is a production. The feeling and freedom to be clean when you want to be, without assistance, don’t take that for granted!

6. Driving

Years of traffic can steal the joy that we all had when we all first gained our independence with driving. Not being able to drive has reminded me of what a blessing it truly is!

7. Walking

One of my favorite pastimes is walking with my family, especially after a meal. Taking in the outdoors, sharing conversation, it’s bliss!

8. Cleaning

Yes, it’s true. I miss chores! Pitching in and keeping the home running may seem tedious at times, but there is so much value in being part of your family team.

9. Cuddles

Medical equipment gets in the way of holding my children or snuggling up on the couch to my hubby. Sit close to your loved ones and take the time to embrace them.

10. Traveling

The best things to collect are memories! Go out and make some with your loved ones!

11. Going to Church

It may be tempting to hit snooze and run a podcast instead, but don’t. Church isn’t something to check off your list. It’s a time to be with God and His people.

12. Remembering/Multi-tasking

Are you great at remembering things or multi-tasking? ENJOY THAT! Thank your beautiful brain for functioning so well!

13. Helping Others

Are you able to pour into others because you’re not in barely-survival mode? Praise God! What a wonderful season.

14. Not being a Burden

People with chronic illness can hopefully have the BEST support system (which I do) and still know they are burdening others. It’s a simple fact. You cannot take care of yourself or your kids, that adds to other people’s responsibilities.

15. Being Reliable

Some days I can get out of the house (with assistance) and connect with others. Some days I can’t get out of bed and even texting is too much. If you can be reliable to others, celebrate that.

16. Reading

I can still read, but read AND retain is not always a given. I have a stack of books next to my bed that I have started and restarted multiple times. Curl up and a enjoy a good book!

17. Playing with my Kids

We are making things work. We play a lot from the bed and the couch. It’s not the same though. If you are able, put down your phone and allow yourself to be totally silly with your kids. Play monkeys, make a train out of boxes, just PLAY!

18. Grocery Shopping

I used to loathe going to the store. Now, I miss it greatly. Walking through the aisles and picking out your own produce is a gift.

19. Any Shopping that’s not Online

I love giving gifts. Part of that process is the search, and I don’t mean online search. It can even be something simple, like grabbing flowers on my way out of the store to surprise a neighbor. Enjoy spreading kindness!

20. Bathing my Kids

I miss the splish and the splash! Can it be messy or “burdensome” at times? Maybe. It’s such a precious time though, so treasure it!

21. Going Somewhere “Pity Look” Free

As a twin mom, I am used to staring. That no longer bothers me. Being wheeled around in a chair and having strangers audibly say “Aw…Poor Lady,” THAT bothers me. I look forward to the day I can walk into a room again and get the normal amount of stares.

22. Social Events

You don’t realize how many social events involve eating until you cannot eat. You don’t realize how much people TALK about food even until you cannot eat. Trying to attend an event and sit with others during a meal made things feel awkward and isolating.

Next time you have a beverage or snack in your hand at a social-outing, be grateful. It’s a beautiful part of interacting that makes everyone more at ease.

23. Coffee

Something so wonderful and amazing should get it’s own catergory. Seriously, go smell, sip coffee, and linger in its glory.

24. Working Out

That alarm clock always rings too early, but oh how wonderful it is to work out. To feel your body getting healthier and invest in your future self!

25. Self Grooming

Just because someone does not have the energy or ability to take care of themselves, does not mean they “don’t care about it.” Shaving legs, and brushing hair are just a few things I miss and hate not doing. Caring for yourself is a blessing.

26. Medical Care Free Days

I spend 2-3 hours every single day on my medical care. Changing TPN, changing out my port, etc. Sit on your couch and just be still. Let your mind wander to something, anything, even if it is “pointless.” Not having to think about or use medical supplies and procedures is simply lovely.

27. Kissing Boo Boo’s

If you can be the one to lift up your hurting child and meet them in their time of need, praise God! Being there for your children is invaluable.

28. Making Plans

HG controls what I can and cannot do each day, which makes planning impossible. Make plans, keep plans, and enjoy them!

Spread Joy

Now it is your turn! What is something you do daily that you may be taking for granted? Share your joy with us by tagging @thegracehaven or #thegracehaven.