A Painful Identity – Renuka Dhinakaran
Renuka Dhinakaran is an international labor lawyer, mom, chronic illness patient and an incredible patient advocate.
Will you start with sharing about yourself?
I’m 38 years old, married and living in the Netherlands, originally from India. I have a son who is 10 years old and I’m an international lawyer with my own law practice. I had a wonderful life until 4 years ago when chronic illness became the new normal for me.
Where did your chronic condition journey start?
I was a premature baby and I was sick a lot as a child. I remember being in pain quite often and as a teenager was diagnosed with PCOS and endometriosis. I was later diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The turning point was my pregnancy when I suffered with back pain. After I gave birth, I was told I had degenerative disc disease and a pelvic dislocation. I went on to develop anxiety, hypertension, asthma, gallstones, allergies, migraines and arthritis.
What’s your advice for parenting with chronic illness?
I learned the hard way to erase guilt from my vocabulary. I have also learned to pick my lane. I’m in charge of overseeing my son’s health and academics. His father handles logistics, sports and activities. The best suggestion I have for parents with chronic illness is to pick one lane where you can contribute, even on your bad days, that no one else can do. Acceptance and commitment therapy has also been helpful to accept the way things are, figuring out a plan and committing to it.
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