9 things I'm grateful for as I celebrate my 3rd birthday since the onset of my chronic illness

As I write this blog post, I’m celebrating my 32nd birthday. I still have clear memories of so many birthdays over the years, probably as far back as my 6th. So I really can’t believe how time flies! 

And this birthday is also my 3rd since the onset of my mysterious chronic illness and my 1st birthday since recovering fully through DNRS (more details about my journey here).

My 30th birthday was around a month into the start of my illness and I think I threw up about 20 times on the day. We even had to pull over on our way home for me to throw up – and no I wasn’t drunk :) Not the best way to start your 30s I guess.

Last year my birthday was pretty amazing as I got to eat in a restaurant for the first time since becoming housebound about 6 months earlier. It was 2 months after starting DNRS and although I still had a long way to go, I was already seeing a lot of progress.

And considering that at my worst I could eat only 8 different foods, those being only fruits and vegetables, eating in a restaurant was a huge deal for me.

But now that I’ve recovered fully, I thought my birthday was a good time to make a list of things I'm grateful for, since the whole journey made me realise how many things I took for granted before my illness started.

So here’s my 32nd birthday gratitude list:

1. Definitely first and foremost the love and support of my husband, family and friends.
I would be nothing without them and when I was too ill to do most of the things that I could do before, it was their love and support which really kept me going. Being ill also made me realise that no matter how hard things get, if you have love and support, you actually don’t need much else.

2. My faith in God and prayers.
This might not be on everyone’s list, but my faith, being able to pray and also knowing that people were praying for me made things a lot easier in the hard times.

3. Beautiful memories that can make me happy just by thinking of them.
For me Għar Lapsi is filled with loads of happy childhood memories (more about what Għar Lapsi means to me here). It was one of the places I thought about often when I was housebound, and getting to actually go there after recovering and now again this week was really special.

4. Being able to plan things confident that they will happen.
I mean this both on a day-to-day basis and in the longer-term. When I was chronically ill, all our plans were on hold and we literally had to just plan from one day to the next depending whether it was a really bad day or a slightly better day. So it really felt like our life was stuck. Now being able to plan things for tomorrow, next week, next month and even next year is amazing.

5. Having the energy to get up and face the day – every day. 
It’s a horrible feeling going to bed not knowing when – or if – you’ll have the energy to get up and face the following day. And I’m so grateful that, apart from a few days each year when things like the flu hit, I now have the energy to get up at the time I plan to and the energy to do whatever I wish, including going to work, doing the housework and even running. This energy also means that my life is back in sync with Dermot’s and simple things like enjoying some time together before work mean so much to me.

6. No longer having the debilitating reactions I used to have.
Thanks to DNRS, I no longer react to all the foods and chemicals I used to react to. So it means I can do basic things which at my worst weren’t possible. I can eat without worrying about throwing up, sleep in our bed, hug my family and friends, be in a room with many of the people I love at the same time and do pretty much anything I wish to do without worrying about a scary reaction. 
7. Being able to go wherever I want and eat whatever I want.
Related to the above is the fact that I can now go wherever I want and eat whatever I want: two things which seemed impossible while I was ill. DNRS made the impossible possible, which is why I’m so grateful that I came across this treatment programme and would recommend it to anyone suffering from a mysterious chronic illness.

8. Being busy. 
This might sound ironic and I still often forget that I should be thankful for being busy and having the energy to do the things I set out to do, rather than complaining about how busy I am. 

9. Being able to help others who are chronically ill.
I’d say the thing my chronic illness gave me that I’m most grateful for is the possibility to help others facing similar situations. Even if it’s just by planting a seed of hope that one day recovery might be possible. 

I’ll definitely keep doing all I can possibly do to help others suffering from mysterious, chronic illnesses because I know what it’s like to wonder why your life has become what it has and not to be given any answers.

So if you or anyone you know suffers from a mysterious, chronic illness, I’d really recommend that you look into DNRS. It changed my life and it can change yours too.