Can poor health be a blessing in disguise?

I’ve begun asking myself this question as I faced some thorny changes in my own wellbeing, caused by nothing I did nor anything a doctor could pinpoint.  I’ve always been disgustingly fit with the exception of a little extra weight.  I gave up smoking years ago, ate well, and maintained a schedule of fairly active exercise.  In spite of doing all the right things, I developed an autoimmune condition (I refuse to call it a “disease”) affecting my legs, which no treatment can cure.

The first thing people usually do immediately after a confronting a negative situation like this—right after denial, of course—is to ask “why me?”  I skipped that stage, believing that most occurrences in life result from random chance rather than a superior being who’s directing the universe and is susceptible to appeals.  Still who can be happy if your body doesn’t respond to commands and discomfort is constant?  Not I.  

I do know that several broken bones and a major root canal convinced me that good health is better than any kind of drugs.  It’s the most important contributor to our quality of life.  So when I fell over cliff of a chronic ailment, I expected my life was pretty much ruined.  

I was wrong.  A chronic malady can bring unexpected benefits.  One is that I’ve learned to push through or over physical discomfort, a kind of personal challenge much like glorying in the labor and delivery of child birth.  Another is valuing the present moment while I still can move with some ease to take walks, ride bikes, and dance, which may be limited in the future.  

The biggest benefit is realizing that I’m experiencing a bit of what many people go through.  No longer do I pooh-pooh the pain of arthritis, question the distress of a bad back or knees, overlook the irritation of sinus problems.  These tribulations are part of the human condition for many, and I’m no longer exempt.  I understand my fellow creatures better.  

So I try to view my troubles as learning disguised as a life event.  And as long as they’re not life-threatening, I can deal with them. Would I react differently if my condition was portentous*? I’ll ponder that question next.  

*Portentous: very serious and significant, especially with regard to future events.