Why Chronic Illness Is Not ‘All About Choice’
I was in a shop with some friends when the subject of jobs arose. For a lot of people with chronic illness, including myself, this is a loaded topic. I briefly mentioned that my aspirations had needed to change due to illness and I wasn’t working. It prompted a lecture from one of the store’s proprietors. He said, and I paraphrase: ”You can do whatever you want, it’s all about choice. Just choose to do it.” The guy didn’t know anything about what I was facing; what my obstacles actually were, or anything else. He had simply decided that none of them mattered, because everything was “all about choice” to him. It’s not the first time I’ve heard such a statement, and it probably won’t be the last.
Don’t get me wrong: we all make choices that influence our lives, our health and our relationships with others. Sometimes our choices end up being beneficial; sometimes they don’t. There’s no debate there. For instance, my occupational therapist assigns stretches and exercises for me to do outside of my OT sessions. My doctors prescribe medication for me. They can talk until they’re blue in the face, but they don’t go home with me. It’s my choice to follow their instructions. I do so, because it helps. I choose to educate myself on my conditions and medications so I can make informed decisions on my treatment plans. I choose to be particular about nutrition and read labels.