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This is Not What I Ordered: a podcast on full-hearted living with chronic illness + health challenges

Feb 11, 2020

In this episode, I’m joined by Andy McLellan, a haiku poet and trainee Zen priest living in Canterbury, UK.


Nearly 25 years ago, when Andy was in the midst of obtaining his PhD, he began experiencing symptoms he assumed were associated with stress. Shortly after graduating, however, he came down with glandular fever and collapsed, never fully recovering.


Over the next 20 years, Andy would receive a diagnosis of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and navigate an entirely new learning curve: how to organize his life in a way that would allow him to balance his chronic illness and start a family. 


Despite knowing the signs and symptoms and understanding that he would need to slow down and take care of himself, he suffered a major crash 5 years ago which has caused him to be largely confined to his bed.


However, that doesn’t stop Andy from finding joy in the simple things: squirrels right outside his bedroom door, knitting, writing beautiful haiku poetry. It’s evident throughout our chat that Andy has not allowed his chronic illness to alter his positivity. If anything, it has buoyed it. 


I felt a powerful connection to Andy, and we were both reminded just how impactful it can be to sit with people who just get it. As individuals navigating our chronic illnesses, we can connect with each other and not have to over-explain, or judge. We just take these illnesses for what they are and support one another fully.


This conversation with Andy proved a testament to resilience. He is truly an inspiration to me, and I hope to all of you.