When you’re told you have a chronic illness, it changes you. You’re no longer invincible, immortal, immune to the issues plaguing family members and co-workers. I thought I was.

When someone would bring up their newest issue at work, a new medication, or tell me they were late because of some symptom or other, I would listen. I would shrug. I would accept whatever words they had to offer. Then, I would turn in my chair and go back to work.

Your issues aren’t my problem.

Get to work on time.

Now that I have issues of my own, I still feel the exact same way. Don’t tell me about your issues. Don’t let them impact your work life. Suck it up and get here on time.

The difference is: I understand.

I’ve woken exhausted on countless mornings. I’ve had stress force me to bed rest for days. I’ve mistakenly taken my medication in the afternoon instead of at night and floundered my way through spreadsheets and meetings.

But unlike before, I see the full picture behind the late arrivals and early departures. I’m changed in that aspect but still, I choose work ethic.

I wish I could say who was right, but I can’t. I certainly have more job security. But I also have my weekend meltdowns. I’m known as reliable, but I also have intense chest pains when I push too hard.

Before, I didn’t think of stopping as an option. I do now. I don’t like it, it makes me question my future.

When you’re diagnosed, it feels like nothing and everything in your life has changed. And it’s true. Because it transitions slowly, starting with understanding.