Officially, my school closed for a one-week autumn holiday, but ironically I don’t need time away from my students; the only break I need is from my body. If you battle chronic illness, you are never ever really on vacation.
For the past decades, I have suffered from an invisible illness. The name doesn’t matter, nor do the symptoms, although it frustrates the heck out me to be unable to identify it clearly. Suffice to say that just when I think I have beat the odds, it comes back to bite me in the butt, knock the wind out of my sails, slay me to the ground and wipe out hope.
Those suffering from chronic illness call it a flare up; those fighting cancer say they are no longer in remission.
I am not alone. I am one of the millions of patients that seek solutions to complaints of nondescript symptoms – headaches, pain, fatigue – that drive doctors mad.
How do you find treatment for “invisible” diseases when the evidence-based science of medicine wants proof? My bacteria, the clever little buggers, change forms to evade the very antibiotics geared to kill them.
When I am down for the count, I think of others who are fighting their own battles with cancer, leukemia, MS, diabetes, neuropathy, lupus, arthritis, crohns…the list is endless. Like my immunologist once told me, “Eventually humans lose the battle. Either the cancer cells take over or the body turns on itself in an auto immune illness.”
Next time you are knocked out, here are a dozen tips to help you cope.
- Call a sister or a sistah friend; women know how to listen and validate one another’s feelings.
- Walk. Even on my worst days, I try to get up and meander even if only to the end of the block. Then at the end of the day when I seemed to have done nothing more than drag from the recliner to the couch, I remind myself that at least I walked today.
- Do NOT compare yourself to others in your friendship circle, work sphere, family network. They do not carry your burden. Only you know what an accomplishment it is to put one foot forward day after day.
- Listen to music, strum a guitar, sing a lullaby.
- Pray or meditate. Get down on your hands and knees in child pose which BTW is also a good stretching position.
- Watch a movie.
- If your eyes can focus read a funny book, an intriguing mystery, a trashy love story, anything that helps you escape your own four walls.
- Eat healthy. Avoid sugar. Bacteria feeds on sugar.
- Hit pillows. Kick walls. Break plates. You have the right to be angry. Get it out, but don’t let the anger win.
- Cry. Hard. Wail. Tears cleanse the soul.
- Let that special someone hold you.
- Then cut yourself some slack. Give into the pain and fatigue. Throw away the to do list. Turn off. Tune out. Rest. Rest some more.
Remember LIFE isn’t a race, it is a journey. Your contribution to society is no less valuable because you take longer to finish a task.
How do you cope when your body lets you down again?
Thanks, Kristi and I try to be thankful for each day. There is always a ray of sunshine glimmering through those clouds.
Yes, very wise words, indeed!!!
Thanks, Patty, look forward to following you on ChocolateChipLife.
Hi Pat! So sorry to hear that you must deal with such a difficult experience on a regular basis. As you say, not knowing is often more difficult than knowing what you are dealing with and the “expected” outcome. I only hope that you have more good days than bad. And your suggestions are so very good for ALL of us when facing pain or hard challenges. ~Kathy
Thanks for your positivity, Kathy. Smart Living 365 also gives me a real lift.
Dealing with my own frustrating chronic illness I could not agree more.
Glad you found me…looks like we share a lot of aches and pains and I will checking in with you regularly.
Wish I could wave my wand and give you that body break you need… Love your tips, especially the child’s pose one 🙂 even in your darkest hour you think of sharing your knowledge… Healing hugs to you dear Pat xxx
Thanks, Rach. I feel forever indepted to you for introducing me to yoga and then having the patience to teach this stiff, non flexible, ol’ bod the benefits of breathing and stretching.
It amazes me how much you DO carry on even in the midst of great suffering. You bring wisdom and encouragement to others when you put these words to the page. Feeling for you, my friend. Keep up the fight.
Sure wish you were still living just across the border to help me in the fight, but thanks for leading the battle cry long distance and uplifting me with your thoughts, prayers, emails and calls.
Attitude is everything,Pat as you show so wisely here. This list applies to all of us at one time or another. Your tips reinforce for me why you are such an inspiration. Sending hugs.
Thanks, Kathy. I really appreciate your calming words and steadfast friendship.
Your post so resonates with me. I too have aches and pains that slow me down and interfere with my quality of life — now more often than not. But I still count myself among the lucky ones and try to do what I can to help myself. Lots of walking and stretching — hot showers — and being respectful of and patient with my body rhythms.
Helene, are those aches and pains another thing we have in common? Walk, stretch, shower…sounds like my new mantra.
Sis, I am sorry that you are going through another rough flare up. You are one of the strongest people I know and I continue to be inspired by your wonderful outlook on life and your ability to find the silver lining in spite of the hurdles you face. Thanks for being so honest about your health struggles….I know you lift others up every day with your empathy and fighting spirit. We may be an ocean apart, but you are always in my heart. Love you.
Pat, I’m sorry to read you’ve been having a hard time of late. You’re to be congratulated, though, on keeping up your good spirits — and on preparing such a thoughtful list of To-Do’s. I have a friend with fibromyalgia, which I understand is quite painful ALL the time, so I can appreciate the challenge of living day to day with chronic pain. My heart goes out to you — hang in there and know that this, too, shall pass!
Thanks Debbie. I can so relate to your friend. My spirits often waver, but I try to will out the negativity and write on. ha