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How Nicole's Chronic Illness Changed Her Life

By Nicole | @TheStudyDog | July 3, 2018

How Nicole's Chronic Illness Changed Her Life


Most people would never even imagine that having an incurable illness would be a good thing, but it can be. For years I watched my sister struggle with her chronic illnesses. I was the healthier twin; all my problems were mental.


But when you’re identical you share everything. Last year around this time I started experiencing extreme abdominal pain. I won’t go into too much detail, but I now have Celiac Disease and a service dog, and an undiagnosed GI issue. But why are these good things?


Well first off, you must learn - fast - what works and what doesn’t. My diet changed drastically, but for the better: no gluten, dairy, or meat meant hummus and carrots were my new favorite snack. I have learned how to cook real meals for myself and my sister and I really enjoy it. Until October I was doing great but then I had a flare up and was put in the hospital and given an NG Tube which I called the “nose hose.” As a college-aged female, you would think this would be anyones worse nightmare for self-confidence, but it wasn’t.


I found that making jokes about my tube helped me cope with it, and I would decorate it with fun tape to match my clothes. I learned how to be confident, not with how I looked, but how to love who I am. I learned to love my personality. I felt beautiful with my tube because I knew I was beautiful on the inside. I learned how to radiate joy even if I am suffering. If you did not know, I am in school to become a nurse. I think the biggest thing I have learned is how to be the patient and not the care giver. I have learned about tons of illnesses most doctors do not know about.


My future as a nurse will be to advocate for patients because I know what it is like to be in that chair. I have learned to stop and be still. My once go, go, go personality is now let’s wait and take in the moment.


Learn to be patient. You cannot sit in your room thinking about doctors’ appointments and what you are going to do in 5 months’ time - you must think about now. How am I feeling right now? Do I need to nap? Do I need water? Can I finish this 5 page paper right now? Evaluate yourself. The best thing I have learned from being chronically ill is that having someone to encourage you.


I have found friends in this community that will be with me for a life time. I have beautiful service dog who is by my side no matter what. I am not my illnesses, but they did make me who I am today.


Nicole is a 19-year-old college student studying to be a nurse. She was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADD, EDS, Celiac disease, and an undiagnosed chronic GI issue. Nicole has trained her own service dog and continues to do so for others, She strives to be the best student she can be and advocate on the reality of living with chronic illnesses in college.


Nicole

Instagram: @thestudydog

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