The Benefits of Being Sick

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by Lara Govendo |

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Prior to my double-lung transplant three years ago, becoming deathly sick allotted me time to slow down. I shifted my perspective to what I could do during this time. I focused my energy on what I could learn because I knew this season of opportunity wouldn’t last forever. The lessons learned while at my sickest inspire nuggets of wisdom I use even today.

During this time, I had an identity crisis. Cystic fibrosis stripped away my career, relationships in all capacities, and health, and I didn’t know who I was apart from these positions I had held for so long. This propelled me into a season of getting to know the real me apart from all the labels I held. This growth process was painful but it also yielded a rich, deeply meaningful time.

When I got alone with God and listened to what He had to say about me rather than what the world said, I learned what my true worth was tied to. Before this, I didn’t know I was valuable aside from the roles the world used to defined me. With everything taken away, I had the room I needed to grow more into the person I am today.

I’ve dared to be different. Embraced who I am. Celebrated that I don’t fit in the box of society. Clarified my heart’s yearnings.

I’ve had the rare opportunity to do more than I ever dreamt possible. I couldn’t have made the following amazing memories if I hadn’t been sick.

I met people I never would have if I hadn’t been sick in the hospital. These are some of my bestest friends to this day. This includes hospital staff: While on my usual floor, I got spoiled by nurses who made me milkshakes, gave me the exact number of pillows I like, and made signs for my door — “Do not wake the princess.” It’s pretty sweet, getting royal treatment while sick.

I’ve gotten to spend quality time with my parents, as they’ve always been with me through my sick seasons. Not everyone gets this privilege, so I don’t take it for granted. In the days after my transplant, they sat with me for hours when I couldn’t do much. We talked about life, their experiences, and how much the world has changed (for better and for worse). It was so beautiful and I cherish those moments like golden treasure.

These past few years, I’ve spent tons of time with my sister, watching my nephews grow. I gave my nephews baths, changed their diapers, and I’ve witnessed so many firsts in their lives. We’ve gone on fun adventures together and formed a lasting, special bond. They were an intimate part of my transplant journey and kept me going most days.

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Nine months after my transplant I drove solo across the United States, exploring without treatment equipment luggage. It felt radical to travel in a new way with new lungs. I got to see friends and family I hadn’t seen in years due to my sickness.

It’s been such a gift to see people rise to the occasion. My parents, sister, and close friends show up through every circumstance. It’s also been a gift to see people leave my life if they didn’t belong. Being sick is the No. 1 best filter for finding family, friends, and significant others who stick around.

Being sick has made me appreciate life more. I know that at any given moment my health can change, so taking time for granted isn’t an option in my book. I live in the present.

Seeing the rainbow amid the storms of life has shifted my perspective. (Photo by Lara Govendo)

There are more benefits gained by being sick than we realize. Once I started listing them here, my eyes opened to the vault of memories and wisdom I carry with me. This wisdom’s collection can only be credited to living with sickness.

Sometimes a simple perspective shift to our current circumstances affords us the most joy and peace. I’m grateful for my seasons of sickness. Without them, I wouldn’t be the Lara that I have become so proud to be.

Being sick isn’t something I’d choose. But if given the choice, I would choose my life, every time.

***

Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.

Comments

Matt avatar

Matt

What a thoroughly refreshing article to read and a fabulous take on life. As someone with CF I feel the same I had to give up a career due to fading health but once out of the rat race was able to take a step back and really appreciate the simple things in life.

I've been able to foster rescue dogs. Being around them, taking them out for walks and teaching them how to trust again the pure joy and love I get from this is something that cannot be bought and if it wasn't for being "sick" is probably something would never have experienced. They have truly changed my life. God bless and keep doing your thing :)

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Judy Moreland avatar

Judy Moreland

I was forced to take 2 part-time jobs (not simultaneously) after I couldn't work full time anymore because of CF. I can relate to what Matt is saying above, especially with the second and last job I ever had. It was also my favorite of all my jobs. Instead of helping a corporation and its executives make money, I was actually helping the elderly in their community. It was a very rewarding job, and I hated to leave when I got a blood clot in my arm from an IV antibiotic. (I was told not to baby my arm, and I should have known better with professional nursing training, but I felt so lousy that I just stayed on the couch for days.) After that, I made sure I exercised my arm with each IV antibiotic.

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Maggie Brewer avatar

Maggie Brewer

Once again, a heartfelt, real life amazing article. You bless so many with your life story! Love you! Maggie and Jim

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Darlene King avatar

Darlene King

I enoyed reading this. I live in Alberta,Canada and my 7 year old daughter has CF. It gives me hope that thru adversity the light still shines. God Bless
Darlene

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The Benefits of Being Sick

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As columnist Lara Govendo reflects on her journey through CF and transplant, she realizes there are a surprising number of benefits.

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