Saturday, July 19, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - For Better Health - Laugh!

Coping With Chronic Illness - For Better Health - Laugh!
"Good-natured laughter does more than brighten a person’s day. According to some Japanese doctors, it also normalizes imbalances in the endocrine, nervous, and immune systems, stabilizes heartbeat and breathing, and can bring temporary relief to sufferers of rheumatism. 

Laughter stimulates sympathetic nerves, thereby boosting the blood flow to muscles and increasing brain activity.

When we laugh heartily, we also exercise our muscles. In a test cited in the IHT Asahi Shimbun newspaper, one laughing subject’s abdominal muscles “showed the same level of exertion as required by sit-ups.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - Exercise Part 3 - How To Build Strength While Ill

There are different levels of illness.  Likewise, there are different levels of exercise.

There are high intensity activities – like jogging, swimming laps, sports, brisk walking, etc…  I don’t know your illness – but for me these are all out.

Then there are low intensity activities – like gardening, gentle walking, housework, water exercises.  Stretching is considered an exercise. 

And then there is truly low intensity activity – like walking from your room to your kitchen and back, or doing some range of movement exercises from your bed, or doing deep breathing exercises.  Or lifting your leg once.  These feel very intense when they are all you can do.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

5 Ways To Maintane Independence While Chronically Ill


I know, I know – we don’t want to be independent.  We want to be inter-dependent.  No man is an island and all that.  I agree with that.


I’m not flying in the face of that wisdom when I am talking about this issue of independence.  But we are looking at things from the viewpoint of a person who is chronically ill.  This is a person who’s body betrays them daily.  This is a person who is forced against their will to rely on people all the time for basic necessities.  Their world, their dignity, and their sense of self are being assaulted.  



Friday, June 27, 2014

10 Ways To Make It Through The Summer Heat While Chronically Ill

10 Ways To Make It Through Summer
Where I live it gets extremely hot during the summer, and the summer lasts a looonnggg time.  
 
My illness causes organ failure.  And the first organ to go is the skin.  This means that my body can no longer regulate temperature the way it should.  Usually, if you get hot, the heat escapes through the skin.  But my skin no longer serves that function efficiently.  So the heat gets trapped under the skin and I can’t cool down. My core temperature rises.  And I can no longer function.   

Friday, June 20, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - Exercise Part 2 - 5 Myths And Facts About Exercise While Ill

5 Myths and Facts About Exercise and Chronic Illness
As I said in my last post (Coping With Chronic Illness -  Exercise Part 1 - Is It Good Or Bad?), we live in a society that thinks of exercise primarily as being a weight thing – or something that makes one more physically “uniform”.  But it is so much more than that!

For us, exercising to lose weight is not the main goal.  It may possibly come as a side benefit.  But for us, the main goal is to be able to participate in life.  To be able to move about our homes, maybe to work, go grocery shopping, play with our children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, to enjoy nature or a social event.  We just want to have a semblance of a life, and to make a difference in the lives of others.  The more strength we lose, the less of life we can enjoy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Energy Economy - How To Attend Important Events While Chronically Ill


I want to start off by saying that there are levels of illness which do not allow for attending any events – no matter how important they may be to you.  I have been that ill before.  I will likely get there again.  I am so sorry if you are currently in such a state. 

However, just a degree or two better and it is possible to attend at least part of an event if you follow these suggestions below.  Of course, some things will depend on the type of event you are attending. (I used these suggestions for my sisters baby shower, which was really important to me, and the only party I have been to in the past 2 years – and for a 2 day convention holding 1,000 people which was also very important to me.)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - Exercise Part 1 - Is it Good or Bad?

Is Exercise Good Or Bad for the Chronically Ill?
If you have a chronic illness you know you should exercise, right?  You know it, I know it, we all
know it.  Healthy people should exercise.  Sick people should exercise.  Old people, young people.  Everyone should exercise.  It’s good for you.

And yet… it’s just not that simple.

The challenge

Sure exercise is beneficial – but how do you do it, where do you even start when you are:

Feeling completely and utterly horrible?

Too weak to stand, walk, or even sit up for any length of time?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

5 Ways To Be A Good Friend To A Friend With A Chronic Illness



I have been coping with a chronic illness since I was 14 (that's nearly 16 years for me).  Sometimes people ask what they can do to be supportive.  I appreciate when a friend is thoughtful and shows that they care.  I thought I would share some of the ways my friends have helped me in the past 15 years of coping with my illness.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - Caring Too Much What People Think, How To Overcome It



I can’t hide my illness anymore.  I can’t push to look normal for an hour or two anymore.  It doesn’t work.   (At least not right now.) 

So, this year I have had to confront my fear of people.  I’ve had to confront my own inner need to be accepted and loved by EVERYONE.  I’ve had to start realizing that I care too much what other people think.  (See part one of this series for adiscussion of why that keeps us sick.)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - Caring Too Much What People Think Keeps You Sick



It is a natural human desire to fit in, to be respected, to be loved.  We naturally care what others think about us.  And that is not wrong.  But there comes a point when we care too much. 

For people with chronic illness just getting out of bed or out of the house very difficult.  We may worry about looking weird to others or worry about their opinion of us.


Have you ever had one of these thoughts / fears?

·         They will think I’m lazy

·         They will think I’m faking / malingering / they won’t believe me.

·         They will think I am looking for attention

·         They will think I am worthless

Friday, March 21, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - When I Have No Brain and No Body

Coping With Chronic Illness - When I have no brain or  body
Sometimes my whole body feels as though it has been run over by a semi truck.  Even my brain hurts terribly, like it has been used as a basketball and is swollen and bruised all over.  The slightest rollover of thought is excruciating.  I become very sensitive to light, touch, and sound.  This may last from a day to several weeks or months before I get relief.  

During these time periods I may be bed-ridden.  And I am physically, emotionally, and mentally in a very low state.  I can’t really function.  At the same time, I am not able to sleep all of the time.  So, I just need to be distracted by something completely undemanding, requiring no strain on my emotions or mental faculties.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - Other People Have Problems Too



Everything seems to be hard for me and requires a lot of thought and planning.  For goodness sake, washing my hair requires a plan of action and plenty of time afterward to rest.  Because everything is harder and requires more thought it is easy to become self -centered, focusing only on what I need and want, thinking only about what is happening to me.  

Also, illness often brings isolation.  Keeping my own company so much makes it easy to think only of myself.   

One problem with being too concerned with ME  is that I tend to downplay other people’s problems.  I never think they are as bad or important as mine.  This is simply untrue and unfair.  Their problems are usually just as valid and often very painful and frustrating.   

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - Getting to Know Myself - Part 2 - My Food

It’s easy to lose ourselves in our various illnesses.  So it’s important to be reminded from time to time that you are a person, not an illness.  You have a personality, interests, likes, dislikes, opinions, obligations, and responsibilities.  So every now and then I plan to provide some questions designed to help us get reacquainted with ourselves gradually.  Here is the second set.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - Dealing With Its Unpredictable Nature



Be Flexible Like A Gymnast
Unpredictable Chronic Illness - Be Flexible.


“Today is canceled, go back to bed.”  


When you live with an unpredictable chronic illness you really do live day by day, hour by hour.  At any given moment you may have to chuck the plan aside and go to bed.  You don’t always have control – even if you’ve been trying to be good and take it easy and take care of yourself. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - Getting To Know Myself - Part 1 - The Outside Me

Chronic Illness.  Getting to Know Yourself.


I became ill at a very young age.  As the years went by the lines between me and my illness started to blur.  And at some point I realized that I was mixing the two. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Coping with Chronic Illness - You Do Not Need to Justify Your Existence

Coping With Chronic Illness - You Don't Need to Justify
“Never make excuses.  Your friends won’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.”  -Wooden

With some of my old friends I always had to excuse myself for being ill.  I had to say I was sorry to them over and over for something that wasn’t my fault.  And it made me angry. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Energy Economy - 10 Ways to COMBAT Cognitive Dysfunction (Brain Fog, Fibro Fog)

10 Ways To Combat Brain Fog

As I see it, dealing with cognitive dysfunction falls into two categories:  1. Coping, and 2. Combatting.


Coping means to accept that it is a problem and do what you can to live within its limits.  Cope can literally mean to come into contact with, to meet.  So to cope is to go out and meet the challenge as best we can.  Last week we discussed 10 ways to cope with this problem.  Today we will discuss how to combat it.

When I think of Combat, I think of a battle.  And often battles are fought over territory.  So, ‘to combat’ means to fight for our mental territory.  Literally it can mean to take action to reduce, destroy, or prevent something.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - Talk. And Talk Some More.

Talking Is Important During Chronic Illness.
I am not a big talker.  I prefer to listen, to watch, and to work things out in my head.  But coping with illness involves many different emotions and I just can’t seem to sort through them all on my own.  

 Somehow, just speaking the words out loud to a trusted person clarifies things.  And because the person(s) is trusted I don’t have to worry whether I am right or wrong, betraying a flaw, being little or petulant or negative, whether I sound like a crazy person.  They will not form a negative opinion of me based on the wild talk of a grieving person, or the confusion of an overwhelmed one.  They will listen and they will help me find sanity again.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Energy Economy - 10 Was to COPE with Cognitive Dysfunction (Brain Fog, Fibro Fog)

Brain Fog (Cognitive Dysfunction) and Chronic Illness

One of the most difficult and devastating things I have had to deal with in this last year is a worsening of my brain fog/cognitive dysfunction.  I thought, ‘so my body doesn’t work, at least I can catch up on some reading and studying’.  But no.  To my horror, I found that even reading caused extreme exhaustion, pain, and debilitation.  This realization was a very low point for me.
 
Cognitive dysfunction (or brain fog) has many causes.  It can be a symptom in illnesses like depression, lupus, Celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis, fibromyalgia, sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity), and many more.  It is also sometimes a symptom in ADHD and peri-menopause.  And this barely scratches the surface.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - I Can't Do It Alone

Coping With Chronic Illness.   I Can't Do It Alone.

I have a lot of friends, whom I love and care about and who love and care about me.  But I have a small support group, the nucleus of my everyday life, who are my inner circle.  I could not do it without them.

My inner circle helps me with: