Sunday, September 29, 2013

Back to the Basics!

Those of us with chronic illness are constantly challenging ourselves to get through the day. With the recent trauma of losing my brother to suicide, I have to check myself all over once more.

Will I go into a Lupus flare? Will my gastroparesis act up and make me unable to eat? Will I lose precious sleep? Will my headaches return? Will my joints hurt more than usual? Will I fall into a depression? Do I have to increase/decrease medications and supplements?

Can I take a shower today and not exhaust myself? Can I cook a meal? Can I go grocery shopping? Can I walk the dog? Can I, can I can I? And what about my ever-present To-Do List that is growing and growing and growing!

So it's back to the basics for me. Once again a Wiley Coyote anvil has fallen on my head and I have to start with 'activities of daily living' like getting out of bed, showering, and dressing. I have to start at square one. I've been here before and I know you have, too.

Chronic, unrelenting illness is not insurmountable if we change how we look at things; perhaps, turn them upside down. In Psychology Today, a writer suggests a NOT-TO-DO list. What a concept?

Toni Bernhard, J.D. a former professor at the University of California and the author of How To Be Sick has compiled a wonderful list of NOT to dos like:

  • DO NOT say 'yes' to an activity if your body is saying 'no.'
  • DO NOT wait until the last minute to get ready for something.
  • DO NOT strive for a spotless living environment.
  • DO NOT speak unkindly of yourself.
  • DO NOT wear uncomfortable clothes. (Yeah. I can feel the little rough fabric pills inside sweat pants or pajamas and always wear them inside out. They hurt!)
And one that I like best is DO NOT think about pleasures from your pre-illness life, freeze them in time, and assume they'd be as much fun today. They just can't. 

Her point is that everyone's life is constantly changing and rearranging itself. As she says: "Relationships change, job conditions change, and bodies change" for both the healthy and the ill. All of us have to adjust and readjust and sometimes it's a daily thing. 

Will I adjust and settle into yet another 'new normal?' I believe I will, in time. I took a very long, fast-paced walk today (with my trusty little dog, Shadow by my side) to see if I could catch up to what I had attained before my brother died. It has been five weeks and I'm not even close. But I tried. 

The anvils will continue to fall and, like you, I will bear the brunt of them - slowly, with compassion for myself, and with a new NOT-TO-DO list ingrained in my brain. 

1 comment:

  1. I pray for your health, happiness and strength every day Amy and when i feel weak, i think of you and your will and passion that never gives up.... this article is excellent and a great help for anyone struggling with trauma and chronic illness... I love the idea of making a list of Not-To-Do's...


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