Adding Resilience to Chronic Illness

Now through Friday, February 14th, we will be accepting submissions from those interested in receiving their very own copy of Transplant and Kidney Disease Health Activist, Danea Horn’s amazing book, “Chronic Resilience.”  You can enter to win here:

Below is the second guest blog post in a 3 part series by Danea.



Accepting the “chronic” part of chronic illness is no easy task. We live in a time when technology and medications solve so many of life’s challenges. It is disconcerting to think that there are still some illnesses that don’t have a cure.

It was this conundrum that sent me on the hunt to find an alternative treatment to kidney disease. I tried affirmations, hypnotherapy, meditation, you name it. If it provided hope of avoiding kidney failure (and the need for dialysis or transplant), I gave it a shot.

While I got some benefits out of the therapies I tried, I didn’t find the cure I was searching for. There are some illnesses that need to be accepted and managed for life. This realization gave me freedom.

I no longer had to feel guilty for becoming sick and for staying sick. I could focus on the best ways to manage my symptoms and slow the progression of my disease. By turning toward what was in my control, my stress decreased.

I finally allowed myself to be human and to need healing. It was OK to take a break from forcing myself to be superwoman and just be me.

As my kidney function declined, I found something else: resilience. I could stand in the middle of fear, uncertainty and illness with courage. Illness didn’t have to crumple me, it could show me strength.

I decided to master my diagnosis. I would take ownership of my health and become the best patient I could be. I changed my diet, exercised, researched kidney biology and found a health care team I trusted. Given the circumstances, I leveraged resilience to create the best possible outcome.

I didn’t avoid kidney failure. It came as my doctors had predicted. The healing I had so desperately searched for arrived from the one thing I wanted to avoid: a kidney transplant. Of course, it had been made scarier in my mind than it ever was in real life.

It won’t be a smooth road ahead. Bumps will be had along the way. In this way life itself is chronic. There is no secret cure for being human.

Yet, even though life can be exceptionally chronic, we are also exceptionally resilient. And that is something to celebrate.

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