Examining Myself Despite Chronic Illness

Pushing, Stretching, Disciplining, Preserving, Thanking are the prompts for May in the A Chronic Voice Linky. These are helpful ways to share our chronic lives with others. I hope that these continue to be challenging to me and encouraging to you.

Pushing

I gave up pushing myself a few years ago. Many people who watch me would call me lazy and say I’d given up. People would probably say that I had let myself go. The reason I have quit pushing myself is because it doesn’t work. I tried a long time. Pushing myself just caused me to have severe flares of pain, fatigue, and misery. What good does it do to work hard one day and then spend a week or two in bed?

I have learned to accept my body. The limits of my body are who I am and I have to love my body. Although I sometimes mumble, “I hate my body,” this isn’t a wise thing to say. I really need to care for my body. It’s the only one I have and accepting myself is so important.

Wheelchair

Stretching

Since I’ve quit pushing myself physically, my body has been too sedentary. I know that sitting all day is bad for me and will make my body get weaker. My seven minutes of stretching every day is all the exercise that I can tolerate now. Thankfully, my new pain doctor is treating my pinched nerves with medication. This new pain relief medication is making it less painful to exercise. With that helping my lower back pain, I should be able to gradually increase my time of exercise.

Stretching has always been something that feels so good. Even with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, my age and osteoarthritis has caused me to be less flexible. I don’t feel stiff, but can feel pain in some of my joints. My knees just don’t work as well. I miss the younger me, but have to do the best I can with the older, sicker me.

Disciplining

When I think of being disciplined I think of someone who has a goal and lives in a way to accomplish the goal. I think about making a list of things that I should be disciplined in. I’m very disciplined when it comes to taking my huge pile of medications. I know that if I skip days of medicines, they won’t work as well. I’m disciplined about going to all of my doctor appointments. I’m disciplined in making sure that my pet is fed and walked. I’m disciplined about using my CPAP, because I don’t want to stop breathing 100 times every hour.

There are other things in my life that I’m not disciplined in. Those are the things that I know are good for me, but I don’t do as regularly as I should. Some of these could be improved on, but some not. My fatigue and pain prevent me from being disciplined in things that I could easily accomplish when I was younger and healthier. That’s just another part of my “character” that has changed and I must accept the reason for the change.

Thank You Nurses

Preserving

Another word for preserving is maintaining. Most of my time, as a person with multiple chronic illnesses, is spent maintaining what quality of life I have left. I am trying to preserve or maintain my ability to walk. With severe back pain from scoliosis, arthritis, and pinched nerves, walking isn’t a given. There have been many times when I would need a wheelchair to walk very far. My husband always drops me off at the door to each of my doctor’s appointments. Walking from the parking lot and all through the building to the doctor’s suite can be too much. My pain is burning and stabbing if I walk very far.

I do many things differently than a well person just to maintain my crappy health. I have to. I don’t want my health to be any worse. To preserve my ability to get a shower every day, I need to pace myself. I can’t get up and do the laundry and clean the kitchen and also get a shower. Something has to be left undone. My body only allows a few things each day. I can’t do all the things I want to do. I must preserve my ability to get a shower, or skip it and do something else. This isn’t a fun way to live.

Thanking

After reading this, how can I even write the word thanking? Well, I can. Being thankful is better than being depressed, grumpy, or bitter. Being thankful is the correct response to everything. As a Christian, I read that I should be thankful in everything. I’m thankful to God for each day and try to be thankful for the good as well as the bad. I can definitely grow as a result of my thankfulness.

I can thank those who help me, whether they draw my blood at the lab or bring me a cup of water when I don’t feel like getting up myself. Getting into the habit of thanking those around me for the good they bring into my life is the right thing to do. It helps others and it helps me.

@2021, copyright Lisa Ehrman

4 thoughts on “Examining Myself Despite Chronic Illness”

  1. I think Sheryl really got us thinking with the prompts this month didn’t she. The first four are so difficult for anyone with physical or even mental limitations and it can be quite depressing to write about it, but then popping ‘thanking’ in at the end makes you think that it’s never all bad. Keep preserving your faith and thankfullness, and I’m sure life will be brighter for you.

    1. Yes, I agree. Writing about the depressing things brings me an almost immediate lightness in mood. I guess it helps to just get it off my chest. Reminding myself of the good things and trusting God really help the most. 🙂

  2. I understand this a lot. We do have to preserve the quality of life we have and that is hard enough. I still want to nudge my limits but that is because I can. I know if I do not the vertigo will get worse- if it isn’t exposed to stimulating environments then it will get worse and then I will lose more balance and stability. And resting too much because of the vertigo makes my chronic pain worse. And it just is a cycle that seems to really make my quality of life so much worse. So I have been trying to find some balance between pain maintainance and vertigo and that is apparently really hard. But I want some basic functionality so I am trying.

    1. Yes, that sounds like a daily battle and one that is almost impossible to manage. But, you’re right. We have to keep trying to manage it and I’m glad that you’re still fighting for your body to be as functional as possible.

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