The 30 Day Chronic Illness Challenge was created by @cfs_zombie. I learned about it when someone reblogged it onto my Tumblr dashboard. Each day, there is a new writing prompt that focuses on chronic illness and being chronically ill. I decided to take on this challenge because it sounded interesting.

Day 11: Why do you believe you have this illness? Bad luck, a higher power, or something else?

I am an atheist. I do not believe that a higher power exists. Therefore, I do not believe that I have chronic illnesses due to the whims of a higher power (or because I’ve managed to anger one). To me, that line of thinking is irrational.

I’ve heard it said that God loves all of us, and that he has a plan for everyone. What about when things suck? The typical answer is something like “You just don’t know what His plan is.” Sometimes, the response is “God won’t give you anything you cannot handle”.

To me, this is illogical. If you love someone, it means you want to help alleviate their suffering. If you love someone, and feel that it is ok to allow them to suffer (or cause them to suffer) because of some “plan” that you refuse to tell them about… that’s a pretty good description of an abusive relationship.

When it comes to health and medical issues, I rely on science. Show me data that proves that a particular medication is helpful. Give me access to a doctor that makes his or her decisions based on the results of peer-reviewed studies (and not on his or her personal interpretation of what the Bible says).

I also do not believe that I have chronic illnesses due to bad luck. Luck seems to be the thing that people point at when they lack a more credible explanation as to the cause of something. “I didn’t win the lottery. I must have bad luck. Better luck next time.”

No! You didn’t win the lottery because of the law of probability. The law of probability also explains why that other guy won the lottery instead of you. It has nothing to do with luck (good or bad). Luck also has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not a person has a chronic illness (or more than one chronic illness).

So, that pretty much leaves me with the “something else” option.  What would that “something else” be?  Let me break that down for you:

I believe that the reason why I have borderline anemia is because of several reasons. WebMD says:

  • Women and people with chronic diseases are at increased risk of anemia.
  • Women in the childbearing years are particularly susceptible to iron-deficiency anemia because of the blood loss from menstruation…

I just so happen to be a woman, who is in childbearing years, who has more than one chronic disease.

I believe that the reason why I have a whole bunch of severe allergies is in part, due to inheriting it from my parents. It also has to do with my screwed up immune system. To summarize the information found at WebMD:

Your risk of developing an allergy starts in your genes. While specific allergies are not inherited, a tendency toward having allergies is. Children with one allergic parent have a 33% chance of developing allergies; with two allergic parents, it’s a 70% chance.

Both of my parents have allergies. Neither one has them to the severity that I do (or that my brother does) but each has allergies. My dad is definitely allergic to dust and also has contact allergies with metal. My mom is allergic to citric acid and dust. My sister and other brother, however, don’t seem to have any allergies at all.

The other reason why I have severe chronic allergies is (again, from WebMD):

What really causes allergic reactions is your own immune system. It mistakes these innocuous allergens [example: pollen] for a serious threat and attacks them. The symptoms of an allergy are the result of a body’s misguided assault.

I recommend reading the information at WebMD that I linked to if you want a further explanation about what causes allergies. I am only summarizing some of it here.

I believe that I have rheumatoid arthritis (despite not having an official diagnosis yet) because my immune system sucks, and due to a family history with the disease. Mayo Clinic says:

An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues.

In short, almost all of my chronic illnesses are due to having a defective immune system.  This is (partially) why I have allergic reactions to things. It is also part of the reason why I’ve started having the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The other reason why I have rheumatoid arthritis has to do with risk factors. According to Mayo Clinic:

Risk Factors

  • Your sex. Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men are.
  • Age. Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, but it most commonly begins between the ages of 40 and 60.
  • Family History. If a member of your family has rheumatoid arthritis, you may have an increased risk of the disease.

I’m female. I’m 40. My paternal grandmother, my father, and some of his siblings, have rheumatoid arthritis.  Add in my poor excuse for an immune system – and that explains everything.

My acupuncturist thinks that I might have chronic fatigue syndrome.  This one isn’t something that can be easily diagnosed.  She noticed it because she is aware of my constant fatigue, that my adrenals are usually low, and that my immune system is “a lemon”.  One of the treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome is acupuncture.  So, I guess I’m doing something right.

Too long/didn’t read:  I believe that I have chronic illnesses because my immune system really, really, sucks.  It has nothing all all to do with luck – good or bad – or a higher power – good, evil, or otherwise.

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