Today, in a letter from a reader of my book, I was introduced to an interesting term I hadn’t seen before: Dis-ease.

Remarkably obvious, yet obscured from my awareness until now, it’s simply the word disease broken into its syllables—which also happen to be the two roots of the word: dis, meaning away (from) or without, and the familiar term ease. Now, seeing it that way, it seems obvious how the word would be constructed and acquire its meaning. But, despite my penchant for wordplay, I’d never made that connection, and now it has new meaning for me.

Dis-ease. Yep that’s what having a chronic illness is all about. Regardless of how we’re doing medically at any given time, there’s usually a lingering sense of concern that prevents one from feeling at ease. And life is definitely at least a bit more complicated—less easy than it might be.

As apropos as dis-ease may sound, it is of course a dramatic understatement for some situations. While wrenching to the unbearable pain of an intestinal stricture, for example, few would characterize the experience as merely a ‘lack of ease.’ For many of us the term disease, at its base meaning, is certainly dis-proportionate.

Regardless, what many of us long for is to reach a place of greater ease—to part with some challenges of illness and live life just a bit easier. Even if we can’t seem to escape the pathology of disease, is there a way for each of us to disengage from the psychology of dis-ease? Indeed that must be what coping is all about. And so, off we go in search of neo-ease. Godspeed.

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