I would say that the biggest effect my illness had on me was that I slowed down. A lot. I naturally talk and move rather quickly, so this was new. When I was in the throes of the illness, I think my mind protected me by becoming an outsider to the pain in my body. An observer to every increment of improvement or deterioration. I worked at becoming patient with the pain, because the only thing that impatience accomplished was to cause me to despair, which caused me to cry, which increased the pain, ultimately.
Of course, my patience exercise was not always successful, since pain is something that can overcome you pretty easily. So there was a lot of anger and taking things out on whoever happened to be nearby (sorry, Beckmann!).
I was waiting for the whole thing to end (not my life, the illness!) I had my reasons for expecting it to end, one of which was, "geez, it's got to stop sometime, right?" Another was a talk with an uncanny astrologer months earlier who had not only predicted that I would become "vulnerable, like a baby," but had told me I'd be feeling more like myself in April. So I patiently waded through February and March, symptoms ever-changing, weight ever-dropping, waiting for April to come. I was finally diagnosed and medicated on April 2nd. The morning of April 3rd I felt like I had been brought back from the dead, literally.
I wasn't "cured," (you go into remission with autoimmune illnesses), I still had a lot of ground to cover in my recuperation. But I had learned to slow down. Which may sound like a piddling result for such an extreme trial, (which I did think at the time, mind you). But nowadays when I start to speed up and rush through work, a conversation, a judgement about something/somebody, I try to remember how slowly I functioned back at the beginning of my convalescence.
I considered everything very carefully. Would I take a shower or a bath? Which shoes would more easily enable me to walk to the store and back (I had residual nerve damage in my feet which caused my feet to feel like Monsieur Heavyfoot (Kids in the Hall, anyone?), which tea should I choose to drink? I would sit like an octagenarian on the park bench and feel the sun warm my frozen hands and feet. I kind of felt like I was at my own personal spa. It felt so good to do all of these things by myself again, and to be able to luxuriate in them.
My slowing-down also enabled me to notice other people more. Especially the octagenarians I mentioned previously. Where I would previously have rushed past a slow-walker to make the bus, now I walked behind, or alongside him/her, wondering what part of them hurt, or if they just couldn't move any faster. The one time I forgot my heavyfeet and tried to run for the bus, I literally fell flat on my face. On the sidewalk. Ouch.
I guess what I'm trying to hold onto from this time is the patience and the slowing down. I get so caught up in accomplishing tasks, impatient to become a mom, worrying about how we're going to handle being a transracial adoptive family. When I let my mind go at warp speed it just hamster-wheels over the same ideas until I feel fried. Must. Slow. Down.