Tag Archive | Chronic illness

We may not be where we thought we would be but…

Your life may not be where you always envisioned it would be just yet, but all you have is now. Remove the unrealistic expectations and unfair demands of perfection you’ve placed on yourself…close your eyes…and just dance. Really experience life. Really experience God’s love. Enjoy the knowledge that you belong to the Lord and feel the joy of sharing Him with others. Enjoy the life God has given you as you cast every care on Him!

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the life You have given me. Show me how to fully live it without placing demands of perfection on myself. Help me to just dance, just live, and enjoy the gift of life You’ve given me and live it to the fullest in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

My life changes what seems like daily. Living with chronic pain, dealing with a spinal cord injury which left me with deficits all the while still being a wife, a mother, and grandmother isn’t easy. Yet, I know that I am here for a reason. Each day I open my eyes I am thankful for another day I get to be with my family, enjoy everything around me to the best of my ability, and to have the opportunity to keep moving forward. Even on the days I feel like I am going backwards, I know that God is still with me working on me, refining me.

Hope and Not Guilt

It has been difficult to get motivated to write or do much of anything being that I have been more pain than normal. I am having a flare up that has caused by pain to remain high despite medications. My spasticity has also been high making it very difficult to walk and stand. I do my best to stay positive and not get grumpy or angry. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I work at it the guilt mixed with the pain wear me down and I do snap at those around me. Of course, this causes even more guilt. Learning to let the guilt go is hard but necessary. Flare ups for anyone living with chronic pain, be it from a SCI or an illness like Fibromyalgia, cause not only physical pain, but mental as well. For me it is difficult because it means not being able to take care of my family the way I normally do. It means not being able to do something I love, cook a meal for my family. Heck just getting up, showered, and dressed are major feats. But the physical limitations often lead to feelings of guilt and inadequacy. It is easy to see all the negatives-I can’t make the bed, I can’t get the laundry done, I can’t pick up around the house, I can’t cook a meal, and I can’t… All these negatives creep in over time, but it is important to change that running line in your head to a more positive one and realize that you really do have an illness. When anyone of us get a cold or the flu we take medications to help and allow ourselves to rest. So why is it that we cannot do this when we have a flare up of symptoms? Admitting that I really do have an ongoing illness continues to be difficult, but through prayer and learning to give it to God I have been able to continue to move forward. Changing the” you’re a failure because you can’t… ” story into look at what you are overcoming and continuing to do is crucial. Everyday we have a choice to live, find the positives, and keep moving forward or to focus on all the negatives and give up. We all have a purpose even if we don’t realize it yet.

Learning to let go

It has been difficult to get motivated to write or do much of anything being that I have been more pain than normal. I am having a flare up that has caused by pain to remain high despite medications. My spasticity has also been high making it very difficult to walk and stand. I do my best to stay positive and not get grumpy or angry. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I work at it the guilt mixed with the pain wear me down and I do snap at those around me. Of course, this causes even more guilt. Learning to let the guilt go is hard but necessary.  We cannot take responsibly for things we cannot control. We must let go of the guilt and focus on the things we can control.

Flare ups for anyone living with chronic pain, be it from a SCI or an illness like Fibromyalgia, cause not only physical pain, but mental as well. For me it is difficult because it means not being able to take care of my family the way I normally do. It means not being able to do something I love, cook a meal for my family. Heck just getting up, showered, and dressed are major feats. But the physical limitations often lead to feelings of guilt and inadequacy. It is easy to see all the negatives-I can’t make the bed, I can’t get the laundry done, I can’t pick up around the house, I can’t cook a meal, and I can’t…

All these negatives creep in over time, but it is important to change that running line in your head to a more positive one and realize that you really do have an illness. When anyone of us get a cold or the flu we take medications to help and allow ourselves to rest. So why is it that we cannot do this when we have a flare up of symptoms? Admitting that I really do have an ongoing illness continues to be difficult, but through prayer and learning to give it to God I have been able to continue to move forward. Yes, I really do struggle with admitting I have a chronic illness, but my body reminds me every day. I am learning to change the” you’re a failure because you can’t… “story into look at what you are overcoming and continuing to do.  

It takes constant reframing of my thoughts. It is so easy to see and hear the negatives. It is important to recognize and deal with what you are feeling.Hiding and pushing your feelings aside only keeps them festering and making the story you hear in your head seem far worse that it really is.  By reframing the negative thoughts and feelings we can continue to keep moving forward. For example, When those around you who believe they are being helpful constantly say things like- “Your standing with your knees locked “followed by “you’re not picking your feet up”  or ”Get your feet under you , you are leaning to far forward.” And of course, I can feel the issues because my balance is off, my legs buckle and just standing is difficult. Instead of focusing on the negative I do my best to reframe my thoughts to something more like, “Look at you, you’re standing,” or “Wow, you just walked up hill and it was easy.”

It is perfectly okay to Give yourself a pass. Again, understand and realize that you are not choosing to do something. All of us that live with chronic pain/illness must accept that our bodies don’t care if we have plans. Our bodies are going to do what ever they want. So, take the time to rest and recover so that there will be better days ahead.

Be sure to treat yourself with kindness. Reframing your negative thoughts into positive ones helps tell a better story which will impact our emotional state. Remember our brain is powerful and it impacts what our bodies physically feel. Higher stress levels means more pain and a reduction in our ability to deal with the pain.

Reminding yourself and finding the things you can do is also of value.  Pain often interrupts our plans, but instead of getting angry and down focus on the things that you have accomplished during the day. We cannot fix the past, but we can adjust and make changes to our future. Find things like painting, gardening, or other hobby to get out and meet others or to relax.

Every step I take is a miracle that God has given me, and it is so easy to lose sight of how far I have come. It is easy to let the negative thoughts and guilt in and start believing them. This affects my mood and my pain levels. Learning to reframe my thoughts, pushing all the yuck out helps reduce my pain levels, makes for a happier day to day life, and makes my mood much better. Stop feeling guilty about the things you cannot control because this only stops you from moving forward. I encourage you to let it go.

A simple cold isn’t so simple

Catching a cold normally would not bother me much, but since my spinal cord injury it causes all kinds of issues. I can deal with the sore throat, runny nose, and congestion, but the extra pain and spasms it causes are unbearable at times, sending my pain soring to an 8+ at times. The overall skin sensitivity is also elevated making it difficult to get dressed and move around.

Most people when they catch a cold are still able to somewhat function and don’t have to worry about loosing bladder function. Unfortunately for me, getting a cold means stronger more severe muscle spams in my back which then trigger my bladder to want to empty. Even if I have just gone it will still trigger the response and I have to make a mad dash for the nearest restroom. Just another fun issue associated with living with a spinal cord injury.

Having a cold also reeks on my spasticity. It increases the muscle stiffness and the rate at which my muscle tire. Most people tend to tire more easily when they have a cold, but they can continue to do things like go to work or pick up a bit around the house. For me, it makes just getting out of bed a massive task. The stiffness in my legs is intense and makes them feel like they weigh 100 lbs a piece. Walking becomes more difficult because my legs feel like they are dragging through heavy cement and my balance is reduced even more than normal.

Being sick with a common cold suck for everyone, but it has much more of an impact on those of us with impaired bodies. From increased pain and exacerbation spasticity it is not just a simple cold. The only way to stop it is prevention. I do my part by washing my hands frequently, staying away from those who appear to be ill, take my supplements drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest. Now all we need is for others to do their part-Stay home when you are sick and do not share your germs.

Finding the positives

It is not always easy to stay positive amid dealing with life. Everyone has a story that is running through their head. We all have things about ourselves that we are not happy with and want to change. Maybe it is losing a few pounds or asking for that raise. For me, it is regaining my ability to walk with balance, lowering my pain without increasing opioid medications, and being able to take care of my family. It really can be overwhelming, but I believe finding the positives in the people and things around you can help make the situation feel brighter. One of the hardest things I deal with is pain. Chronic pain interferes with life on so many levels. It zaps your joy and energy. Physically it makes it hard to want to move let alone get out and do any physical activity. For me, the sensation that my skin is being stretched to the maximum and then ripped apart is enough to drive me crazy. Then my legs decide they want to burn like you have been bit by a thousand fire ants. Dealing with this daily is unbearable at times. It causes me to feel down and sad. I have sat and cried and asked God, why does He keep allowing me to hurt? Why did He give this to me? I have cried out and told Him that I cannot take much more. It is difficult to find anything positive when you hurt, but there is so much to be thankful for. Being chronically ill makes doing many things more difficult and scarier at times. Just getting yourself bathed and dressed may drain you. So, the thought of going out to the grocery store or a movie is daunting. Yet, opening my eyes every day is a blessing. It means I get to have another day to enjoy my family to the best of my ability. I am no longer have the ability to run and play tag with the kids, I cannot jump on a trampoline, nor can I help in the yard much, but I can play a board game, do a puzzle, or teach my family to paint and create things, and I can certainly love them. Of course, there is so much more that I can do. Although this may be true, it often gets lost in the frustration of living with chronic illness and pain. For me it takes deliberate thoughts of hope and lots of conversations with God to keep me on the right track. It is so easy to see all the negatives which start bringing me down.  If I continue to let the negative thoughts in, I find that my anxiety and depression creep up.  Then I find that I have more difficulty controlling my pain and spasticity. This is not to say that there aren’t real reasons for increased pain and spasticity, but our minds are powerful. Each day is an opportunity to “keep moving forward” and to seek out the positives in our lives. It may be difficult to see at times but taking the time to stop and deliberately seek out the good can help push us forward. God is with us every step of the way, even in moments when we feel alone. His hand is reached out to all of us waiting for us to grab on.   Living in chronic pain can rob us of the precious moments, but we can cease the good even amidst the pain. .