Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chronic Illness Will Be a Part of All My Tomorrows

The Sky in the SandImage by ecstaticist via Flickr

Back at the beginning of 2008, I realized that I had lived over three years with illnesses that were not getting any "better." At that point in time, I chose to accept that I had chronic illnesses and disabilities that would be part of my life indefinitely. I chose to reframe the way I viewed my health problems: instead of seeing them as something that could be "cured" and "fixed," I embraced the notion that they needed to be managed. I took responsibility and determined that my chronic illnesses need to be managed not by a doctor, but by me. I decided to accept that, at least for the foreseeable future, living with chronic illness would be a part of all my tomorrows.

Thus began my quest to obtain quality of life, the good, the bad and the ridiculous. Or, as I have come to see it, my mission to live my best life despite chronic illness. I began my mission by reintroduce fun, enjoyment and interesting pursuits back into my life. While there were definitely a few things I could no longer do, I found that some of my old pastimes just needed to be revamped to become fibro-friendly. I also discovered new pursuits that nicely filled the gaps left by those old pastimes I sadly needed to leave behind.

I continue to be amazed how making this switch has changed my whole outlook and attitude about my life with chronic illness. In short, I think I've changed my life for the better and other people seem to notice it. "Are you feeling better?" is the question I often am asked. I know most people want a yes or no response, but "yes" or "no" don't really answer this question. The bottom line is I still have a significant amount of chronic pain and chronic fatigue every day. The bottom line is that I am still disabled. But what I think I have accomplished is to offset some of my chronic pain and chronic fatigue with joy-inducing,
life-sustaining and stress-reducing activities. The net result is a more balanced life and a person who looks a bit less in pain, a little bit less tired and a little bit more happy, a little bit more content on the outside.

I truly enjoy my accomplishments, however lately I'm beginning to feel like I need to add another component onto what I have already achieved. I feel it is time and I am ready to build upon my successes. After all, life is all about growing and changing. It's time to add more things set aside and forgotten back into my life and I'll discuss this further in my blog post tomorrow.

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Anonymous said...

Great post! Sometimes it's all too easy to forget that there are things we can still do. Some are similar with accommodations and others are just totally different. I took up guitar a few years ago just for something different to do that didn't involve "going out and doing something"

Selena said...

I have to credit the Cedars Sinai Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia Program (http://www.csmc.edu/3965.html) for getting me started with making existing favorite activities fibro-friendly. It really all started with switching regular gardening to container gardening. I just took off from there.

I play guitar and tried ukulele as a substitute, but thoracic outlet syndrome which affects the use of my my arms and hands doesn't let me enjoy this pastime as much as I would like. :-(

Thanks for your comments!