Chapter 7

How to Be Sick in a Healthy World

Chronic illness is a family affair. Everyone whose life touches ours--our partners, children, parents, siblings, and even our close friends--will be affected by our disease to a greater or lesser extent. They miss the person we used to be, and they aren't sure how to help us. With the best of intentions, they may advise us to eat better, exercise more, and get back into the swing of life. Or worse, they may abandon us emotionally, refusing to acknowledge our struggles, or physically, deciding they can no longer bear the burden with us.

In this chapter, we'll examine the impact that chronic illness may have on each of our key relationships, and we'll learn some important ways to make these connections stronger. We'll also discuss the importance of defining our limits and stating our needs. Finally, we'll discover that the effort of maintaining our relationships yields worthwhile rewards--we reap stronger marriages, more confident children, lifelong friendships, and healthier selves.