Each week we are highlighting a different Chronic Illness Bloggers’ member as our ‘Blogger of the Week‘. As well as getting to know each other better, we hope that you enjoy this series and that you find the interviews with each member to be insightful and helpful.
This week our blogger of the week is Nicole of As I Live & Breathe.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born with a rare disease. In 2003, a year and a half after my first lung collapse I was diagnosed with another. I was doing ok up until about July of 2015 when my oxygen levels started dropping while I was at work. That April I found I needed oxygen for exercise but then it progressed to needing it full times for most things & then needing a lung transplant. I’ve been on the waiting list for a double lung transplant since March. I hope to get that call for my new lungs soon.
2. What is your blog called and how do you define your blog’s purpose?
As I Live & Breathe. I talk about a variety of things; transplant & the transplant process, rare disease, digital health, life with rare & chronic illness, research, amongst other things. Pretty much anything health related I try to discuss honestly.
3. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I’ve been at it a year now. My friends suggested I do it once I found out I needed a transplant evaluation & my doctors advised me to stop working until after transplant. I had always been curious about blogs. For years, I worked for Medscape (the health professional site of WebMD) helping manage the social communities, both discussion boards & bloggers. There were doctors I had recruited to do blogs that seemed hesitant yet open & became great bloggers. I had toyed with the idea of my own blog for years but wasn’t quite sure what I should discuss. My transplant journey finally seemed to serve as the springboard.
4. How often do you post? What made you decide to post on this schedule?
I tried every day. Now the past few months it’s been every other day. It just depends on how my stamina and energy is. Also if there’s a compelling story or experience I feel others could benefit from.
5. Do you feel blogging has benefitted you? If so, how?
I think my blogging has benefitted me because I’ve been honest about the process, both the good and bad parts, I’ve gotten feedback from people with my diseases but also transplant patients that I sometimes talk about lesser known subjects of interest. Also, since I worked in insurance I sometimes also try to bring to light pitfalls & administrative puzzles I’ve had. I hope doing so will help save someone else the same trouble down the line or get them thinking about strategies & resources in tackling these issues.
6. Why do you feel it’s important to blog about chronic illness?
I’ve always felt authenticity is important. So many people really have no idea on a daily basis what it’s like to live with what some of us live with. I also do it for the human aspect, not because I’m an inspiration or perfect person. I’m just a person on a journey and if someone else on a similar journey can pick up some tips that help their own to me it’s worth it. I have learned a lot from other people.
7. What are your top 3 blogging tips for other bloggers?
1. Just do it. Half the battle is getting started. I wasn’t sure I was even meant to be a blogger until about a month in. It became more natural as time went along.
2. Know why you do it. I don’t really do mine to make money or monetize or get a huge reach. I’m satisfied with the numbers I have even if they are small because I have a great set of fellow bloggers & audience members I interact with & appreciate their perspectives & support. I’ve also done other projects like podcasts and videos with people I’ve met through my blog. It’s sometimes just another way for me to network.
3. Be authentic. There are certain parts of your health experience you may want to share & that’s ok. There may be certain parts you don’t. That’s ok too. Find that balance within yourself & your blog of what you feel is important & gives others a glimpse, but don’t feel as if your blog or your life has to be a completely open book at all times if that’s not what you feel in your heart is right for you or your blog. I find I do it for fun & for catharsis but not everything I go through I’m at a point where I can talk about openly yet. That’s ok. A blog can be a slice of your life, & like your personality, there are parts that are yours & yours alone.