Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness


Ever wonder how rigid or flexible you are to life’s challenges?  Is it different when you are born with a challenge vs. being diagnosed with an illness later in your life?  I ask these questions because when we’re rigid in our thinking we have limited opportunities to deal with life’s challenges.  Last night I was watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition and saw the story of an amazing woman.  Mary Ann Riojas was born with no legs and only one developed arm.  She found ways from the time of her birth to live as mainstream a life as possible.  This couldn’t be more true than when she took Ty Pennington through the house before the renovation.

Riojas showed Ty how she climbed on counters from her wheelchair to get things out of her cabinets.  She showed Ty how she climbs over the edge of the bathtub to be able to bathe.  I could go on and on but I know you get the message.  Mary Ann Riojas knew that to survive in this world she would have to develop determination, perseverance, and hold on to life with enormous faith.  This faith was evident when her children where interviewed.  Each child spoke about their mother with a reverence I’m sure every parent desires and hopes one day will appear.

So you may be wondering…how does this apply to me?  If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic of life-threatening illness you won’t be able to hold on to all your old patterns and habits.  You’ll be thrown into the middle of a whirlwind of activity and new emotions.  The truth is that once you receive your diagnosis if only one thing changes regarding how you handle your health, other things in your life will change because change seems to have a domino effect.  Let’s take this example…you receive an illness diagnosis and begin taking medication.  Your medication causes changes in your body such a raising your cholesterol.  Now you’re taking medication for your illness and on top of that you have change your diet and exercise to help reduce the elevated cholesterol or even take medication to reduce the negative effects of high cholesterol.

How willingly will you walk into this new world?  Are you ready to adapt to the limitations or changes in your body?  Can adaptation be a good thing?  I like to think about adaptation instead of change because so many of us are afraid of change.  Adaptation is about modifications to the lie you’re living, not rewriting every page of the story.  You’re more likely to be able to stay with the new program if you embrace adaptation instead of kicking and screaming fighting change.

What adaptations have you had to made since your diagnosis?  How is adapting to your new circumstances reflected in your internal life?


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

2 thoughts on “Adaptation

  1. It is actually my daughter’s diagnosis that has forced many adaptations of my life (and the rest of my family as well). She is the youngest of 5 and will probably never live independent of some kind of care. She is delightful, wonderful, funny, bossy, complex, and loving. Her health is unpredictable. Her daily care requirements are significant.

    My life has changed. It has taken me a long time to continue to let go of what I wish for and actually enjoy what I have. It requires reminders from time to time. Like going to the horse farm for her therapy today and having her vomit before we could get inside. Her despair at missing the horse therapy lasted for over an hour and I had to join her in it and just let it be until she had grieved enough to move on.

    Just as I have had to (and will continue to) grieve enough to go on. Enough to live in the present and celebrate.

    Lynn Rickert
    En’s Mom
    Owner of Pedaling Backwards at

    1. Lynn,
      Thank you for sharing this intimate part of your life. I remember writing a post about liberation and talking about that all liberation results after losing something. Your description of the grieving process sounds like it’s the process that allows you to capture the moments where you can celebrate and be present. I hope that others can see that letting go allows for new opportunities.

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