I suppose you could compare being chronically ill to being a bird in a cage. The bird wants to soar high in the sky, but the cage keeps you away. Having a chronic illness is similar: you want to soar but you're too sore. Or, you know, sick or something. It doesn't really matter what's holding you back, it's the fact something is. But the cage is also a symbol of something else: How different your life is compared to the lives of others.
I forgot what it's like to be healthy. I cannot tell you what 'healthy' life is like. I assume it's a lot like life now except without pain, hospitals, missing out and planning around abilites. I also assume you fit in better with the 'healthy' world. But I don't know for sure. The 'healthy world' and 'chronically ill world' are very different. I'm always reminded how different they are by people's reactions to my 'arthritis' talk. I'll say something like, "In total, I did about fourteen months of low dose chemo," see horrified expressions and then realise 'wait, that's not normal for them.' Sometimes I'll tell them what's happening 'behind the scenes' and it's worse. "I might be getting steroid shots in my jaw if it doesn't improve, but for now I'm taking this new NSAID and it's helping some of the inflammation." And they're like, "... What?!"
What's worse, I think, is when they don't get sick humour. For example, a few weeks I was invited to visit my auntie for a few days. I proceeded to joke "I just hope there's enough room in my bag between the meds and the sharps container!" I got that mortified look. Or when a joint cracks and I say, "Oops, broke another." Or even when the nurse asks me "what hurts?" And I say, "What doesn't hurt?" Better yet, when they say "are you still feeling pain," and I laugh and after an awkward silence realise they were serious.
Men might be from Mars and women might be from Venus, but there is no doubt in my mind that 'healthy' people and 'chronically ill' people are from different universes.