“Nunchuck Skills” – 5 Master Skills of the Chronically Ill

In all great Journeys and grand Adventures it’s important to obtain and master certain skills. For example: nunchuck skills, computer hacking skills, bear hunting skills
I love that movie.
But, seriously though, every day a chronically ill patient (for example, a transplant patient) wakes up we embark on a Grand Adventure. So, we also need to obtain and master certain skills. What kind of skills? That is what we are going to discuss in this blog post today.

Determination “a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult”

Some may refer to this characteristic as “stubbornness,” but I find the word “determination” to be far more accurate, not to mention tactful. People who deal with different types of illnesses everyday develop a determination you rarely see in any other population. What builds these skills in us?

Imagine someone who has had the goal of climbing Mount Everest for years. They’re now a hundred feet from the summit, only to be surrounded by a white out. They know the summit is so close, their goal at their fingertips, if only they can make it a little farther. They’ve waited all these years to make it! How determined do you think that climber will be to make it to the top? Pretty determined. Does he make it? Of course! He trained! He prepared!

Now, take that story and replace it with you, or me. However, you’re getting ready for work. Or school. Or trying to prepare dinner. Or beat your previous treadmill score. Your goal is so close! But you’re surrounded by – some health related episode inserted here. Will you make it? Will you reach your top? Will you prevail and be victorious over your personal Everest? Determination. It’s a skill we all obtain and master.

Resilience “The ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens”

Setbacks. We all have them. Sometimes they can be out-right devastating. Being chronically ill in itself is a setback. Do you remember when you initially got the news of your diagnosis? Do you have more than one diagnosis? Resilience is the quality that you gain after having to stand back up again, even after you have fallen perhaps many times.
After having my transplant, I had the impression that everything was going to be great. Even those around me did. But it wasn’t. If I hadn’t already developed the quality of resilience, I wouldn’t have been able to climb over the mountains of setbacks that came after my surgery. I know there are many others who go through the same thing every day. This is the life of those who have to deal with Illness, and also those who care for those who deal with illness. Resilience is a quality we master.

Patience “The ability to bear pains or trials calmly and without complaint, or to be steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity”

We wait on hold on the phone lines for nurses and coordinators. We wait to see those expensive specialists for months. We wait for prescriptions at pharmacies. We wait to hear the results from tests. We wait and wait and wait for transplants. We wait for cures. Those who are chronically ill develop patience.  But we don’t just develop patience toward these mundane every day experiences. We’re patient because we all have hope toward something. None of us could go on if we didn’t.  Whether its the hope that at the end of a day of long appointments we get to watch our favorite movie with our best friend, or at the end of a terrible week of disappointing results of evaluation results we get to fly back home to see our grandchildren, or whether we know for sure that at the end of a trial-some life we know for a fact we will be rewarded with something far greater – we all hope for something.  And we can endure with patience with what we have to deal with for now until we are rewarded with it.  Patience is the skill we achieve with time – and master.

Flexibility “the quality of bending easily without breaking, willingness to change or compromise

You’re going about your life, minding your own business, and BOOM! Sick.  You’re going about your day, trying to be a normal human being, and BOOM! Illness attack.  You’re going to the Doc hoping for good results, and BOOM! Not so much.  So, how do you react?  SNAP! No way! Why? Because we are of a different breed. We are made of stronger stuff.  Those who are chronically ill are flexible.  We have already come to understand that life is not a sunny day in the park – sometimes it rains – and guess who’s prepared with an umbrella? and a poncho? And an extra umbrella in case someone forgot theirs?  Yup. We are!  Because of our life experience we have learned that life can pull some serious punches, that’s OK because we already know it’s moves. We take bad news, unfortunate results, and setbacks with flexibility – because we’re masters at it.

Diligence “the quality of being careful and persistent at one’s work or efforts”

Now, this Master Skill may not sound as sparkly as the other four, but it is just as important.  As the chronically ill, we are constantly at work.  I have had many people tell me that being a transplant patient is like a full time job, and it is!  I spend most of my days on the phone, on the computer, filling out paperwork (either on real paper or online), answering emails, talking to insurance companies, calling pharmacies, and the list goes on and on and on.  It never ends!  If my life was not organized, I think all the administrative stress would kill me before my diseases would!! We as a community show a very strong work ethic because of what we’ve had to deal with, some of us all of our lives.  We are responsible, organized, and hyper-vigilant in all we do. (Some may even call it “Type-A” or “Anal,” but I prefer to use more attractive terms…)  We make good employees and organizers because we manage our lives well (and believe me – they do have to be managed).  We are all Super Masters of Diligence. You’re Welcome, World!  Your most qualified group of Party Planners has arrived…

So, there you have it.  Now, you’re ready for your Grand Adventure.  Did you know you were so well equipped?  With this set of 5 Master Skills, there’s no way your Everest has a chance, now.  Climb on. 🙂

14 Comments
  1. Rosemary

    Such wise words! I am working on these qualities in my caretaker position?

    • Miriam

      It’s always a work in progress! 🙂

  2. jem

    Wonderful list and can be used in many life situations

    • Miriam

      I agree! Not just the chronically ill, but anyone going through something hard.

  3. adriana

    It can’t be easy! You are awesome though – and I love how you wrote this.

    • Mirian

      Thank you so much! It’s not easy, but we learn to press on. 🙂

  4. Natalie

    I have such admiration for those who are chronically ill, yet still live fulfilling lives. Great post!

    • Miriam

      Thank you! I appreciate your support. 🙂

  5. Jordyn

    What a unique post! Thanks for sharing!

    • Miriam

      Thank you! I appreciate your thoughts. 🙂

  6. Courtney Byers

    Y’all are such fighters! These are such amazing skills though.

  7. Mykee

    Love Napolian Dynomite! My MIL had a liver transplant last year and I would say that these are the skills she’s had to master as well. Spot on. Thanks for sharing!

    • Miriam

      Congratulations to your mother in law! I wish her all success!

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