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Living with a chronic illness

shutterstock_145620235When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with chronic asthma. Due to the severity of this disease, I was told that I would have a very short life expectancy; I would not live to see my ninth birthday. With such a dreary prognosis, I was forced to grow up fast, as my normal daily activities were drastically affected. I required lots of hospitalization, home health care and medical care. Throughout my childhood and adulthood, I basically lived in a bubble, being under close observation by my parents and numerous doctors. My family and I educated ourselves about the illness as much as possible and modified our lifestyles to reflect what we learned. My mother had a strong Christian faith and believed in the power of prayer.

My parents and siblings never pitied me during childhood, and I was disciplined and punished like any child who misbehaved. I was held accountable and made responsible for my actions. As I defied the odds and reached my tenth birthday, I felt like a true survivor.  However, when I was 15, I had become so ill I just wanted to die. I was tired of suffering. I was tired of being sick all the time. I was tired of hospitals, medicine and doctors. And most importantly, I felt guilty about all of sacrifices my family made because of my illness.

When I overheard my parents talking about how my asthma was weakening my heart and causing other health problems, I made up my mind to fight even harder and not succumb to this debilitating disease. I reassured my family that I was going to be fine. My doctors strongly recommended that relocating to a different climate would provide me with a much better quality of life, so immediately after my high school graduation, I relocated to Chicago. I left behind my family and friends for a strange place I knew absolutely nothing about –- except for the fact that it was my new beginning that would afford me an opportunity to live better. Oh, how I eagerly embraced this new bittersweet endeavor! Leaving home, family, friends and a familiar comfort zone was a huge undertaking, but it was something I had to do. I have no regrets.

What I learned from it.

  • Living with obstacles is much easier with awareness and knowledge.
  • By not focusing on my obstacles and challenges, I was able to successfully plan and implement successful strategies.
  • How to control the illness and not let it control me.
  • Not using my obstacles as a crutch to impede my personal and professional growth and career success.
  • Not taking life and people for granted.
  • Having the love and support of family makes coping with obstacles much easier.
  • Regardless of the obstacle, never give up.
  • Maintaining a positive attitude helped me to cope better.
  • Coming out of my comfort zone and being a risk-taker produced positive results.

How I have grown from this experience.

  • Obstacles build true character.
  • I have become a much stronger person, physically, mentally and spiritually.
  • I realize that we all face obstacles; however, when we share them, we encourage others.
  • I have a deeper appreciation for life and living it to the fullest.

20 comments on “Living with a chronic illness

  1. Your story was the first blog I ever read on the NLU site, but loved you sharing this. I am happy that you found the strength to move, but could help but wonder where you had moved from orginally.

  2. Hello Amy, Thank you so much for reading my post and taking the time to comment. I am glad you enjoyed it. I am originally from Mississippi. Johnnie

  3. Thank you for sharing Johnnie. Your story is relatable to so many events in life and your philosophy and resilience are admirable!It’s great to have you as a part of the NLU Community!

  4. This is a very good article. Thank you for sharing and giving me the motivation to continue my education!! I look forward to reading more blogs from you.

  5. Great Article, Johnnie. I appreciate you sharing your story. I look forward to your future articles.

  6. This is such a powerful and inspirational story! You are a strong person and positive role model. Thank you for sharing. Because of you I will not let my illness hold me back. I will also be determined to pursue my dreams. It can be so hard sometimes, but I will think of your testimony and keep on trying. Can’t wait to read your next blog post.

  7. Thank you so much Johnnie for sharing your amazing story. I really enjoyed reading your testimony and learning that you are not just a survivor but an overcomer. I do believe in the power of prayer and I know God is saving you for awesome things. Continue to be strong and God will keep on using you to accomplish his goal in your life. I know that I will hear about you doing great things at NLU. Please continue to let your light shine and bless others.

  8. Johnnie, thank you so much for sharing your inspirational story. Also thank you for your list of our to overcome obstacles, I will read them often and think of you. Best wishes!

    1. Hello Louise, I am grateful to be afforded the opportunity to share my story. I also appreciate your support and thank you for your compliment.

  9. Johnnie:
    You are an excellent writer and a source of inspiration. Like you I have suffered from asthma most of my life. It is great to see that you did not that stop you from succeeding. When is your next post because I am really looking forward to it. I wish you and your family the best.

    “Sigue escribiendo con gran fuerza y ​​sabiduría.”
    Translation : Keep writing with great strength and wisdom.

    1. Hello Noel, I am grateful that you took the time to read my post and leave such an beautiful compliment. I am not sure exactly when my next article will be posted, but I do write monthly articles. I appreciate your support and please continue to frequent my posts.

  10. I would’ve thought that moving to Chicago would kill someone with chronic lung disease. I’m so happy for you but you took a great risk moving to one of the most poluted cities in America. Thank you for your story.

    1. Hello Kelvin, thanks for reading my post and leaving a comment. I tired other climates such Tennessee, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Arizona, and Chicago works for me. I agree with you, I took a great risk, but it was well worth it.

  11. This blog has made me more aware of how serious asthma is, and it is a very well written blog too. This blog explains in depth of what you went through and has shared a whole other side of you. I am very thankful that you were gracious enough to share your story with us.

    1. Hello Brian, A lot of people are not aware of how serious asthma can be, The degree of severity varies from person to person. One of my aunts died from an asthma attack. Awareness and education are key components for successfully coping. I am happy to share my story. Thank you for reading my post.

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