Adrianne’s Reflection on Living with Chronic Illness

October 1, 2011

My daughter, Adrianne

I wrote the first draft of The Gentle Savior in the winter of 2008, including the chapter about the times Jesus healed two women (“The Healing Touch, ” Week 3). At the time I had no personal experience with chronic illness. The following summer, my daughter Adrianne, who was 16 at the time, came down with mono. Although blood tests say that the mononucleosis virus itself is no longer in her system, her body has never recovered.

As is the case with a significant number of other young ladies who contract mono, she has since been plagued with chronic fatigue syndrome and also POTS (a circulatory disorder that causes blood to pool in her extremities). Even though these are not  life-threatening illnesses, she endures a daily struggle against pain, shortness of breath, lack of energy, frustration, and depression. We can certainly better empathize now with the chronically bleeding woman of the Gospels who spent all her money going from doctor to doctor in search of a cure.

Adrianne, now 19, is hanging in there, fighting her way through her second year of college. I asked her to share a little with you about where she is at this point. If you have experience chronic illness of any kind, I hope you’ll share your experience with us.


Chronic illness is so debilitating. After visiting doctor after doctor trying to figure out why I felt so bad all the time, I was finally lucky enough to find a nationally known specialist who diagnosed me with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and POTS. It was a huge relief just knowing that a medical professional believed me and that my symptoms were real. But my relief was followed by the disappointing news that there is no cure, little known about the cause, and treatments improve life only in some patients.

So I live on with this illness. It is so easy to envy the lives of others who can multitask and have full days of activity without becoming completely exhausted. It is easy to be angry at myself because I know what I should be able to do, what I used to be able to do. In a culture where such value is placed in a person’s ability to “go, go, go,” being unable to keep up is emotionally devastating.

It has taken me three years, but I am finally seeing a light in all of this. First, I found a book on CFS that helped me realize that I needed to accept my life with this sickness instead of always comparing it to how it used to be. As simple as that sounds, it was freeing emotionally and has reduced some of my frustration.

Second, a friend who had CFS a number of years ago pointed out that what she held on to and put her hope in was that God was there with her through every pain and every moment and that he had a plan for her. I may have my questions about God, but I do believe those two things and can hold on to them. I also know that this friend has helped me so much, and I hope to be able to help others and because of this have more sympathy for others who suffer.

I still struggle every day, but I hold on to hope, joy in life, and my loved ones who support me and comfort me. They are irreplaceable.

 Adrianne Bell

4 responses to “Adrianne’s Reflection on Living with Chronic Illness”

  1. Pam Laird says:

    Adrianne, First I want to thank you for speaking so eloquently what is in so many of our hearts as we struggle on a daily basis. I challenge you to hold onto the hope, the joy that only Christ can bring into your life and your support system. As with many Chronic illnesses it is so easy to be come isolated, angry and bitter at your lot in life. I Thank God for you and pray that HE continues to hold you in His arms everyday!Just because we struggle does not mean He does not Love us!

    Love and Prayers

  2. Linda Adam says:

    God bless and keep Adrianne…I just wanted to share that I have been living with chronic lyme disease for 4 yrs. now, and no treatments seem to be having any effect on it…Allopathic medicine with the standard antibiotic treatment, herbal treatments, homeopathic treatments, Naturopathic treatments…and on and on. I was misdiagnosed in the beginning of it(which is more the norm now than getting a proper diagnosis), as having shingles. By the way, CFS is the number one condition that people who really have lyme are being misdiagnosed with. I can testify, that without even a shadow of a doubt that if it weren’t for my faith in Jesus Christ, I would have thrown in the towel after the first year of this, yet HE has used my illness so much for the good, that it would be impossible for me to remember all of it (especially since brain fog is one of many symptoms you deal with dailey) Jesus Christ is the only one who is capable of keeping us going, one day at a time. God bless you all, and Be still and KNOW that He is God! Linda

    • LynnBell says:

      Linda, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m so sorry for what you are dealing with. Adrianne has actually had several Lymes tests, because we found a doctor astute enough to know that it might be the cause of her symptoms. I think one of the hardest things for her is that God has not yet answered her prayer for healing. Do you mind if I share your email address with Adri, so she can email you? Hang in there! God bless you too.

  3. Meg Bell says:

    I’m sending this to my older sister who has been suffering from an undiagnosed dibilitating illness for years. Doctors did say they believe she had mono sometime and could have CFF. I too was relieved when at age 50 doctors finally found out that I was born with an undiagnosed form of spina bifida. A very difficult surgery was not successful in relieving my pain and other problems, but a wonderful healing service at my church brought that wonderful warm, glowing feeling of the awesome healing power of the Holy Spirit throughout my body and everyday I thank him and know that by his stripes i am healed! I am still seeing a doctor for chronis UTI’s, but I know my God is a healing God and I will be pain free!

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