A Chronic Voice is hosting this wonderful Link-Up for those of us with chronic illness. We’re offered five prompts each month. For October, the prompts are: Budgeting, Speeding, Slowing, Evaluating, and Escaping. These continue to inspire me to think about how various terms relate to my Chronic Life.
It’s always been hard to live on a budget, but it seems to get a little tougher all the time. Budgeting with Chronic Illness means that things have to be in proper order of priority. Our family budget includes all the necessities. Unfortunately, one of the biggest budget expenditures is the medical column.
Out-of-pocket expenses include insurance deductibles for appointments and medicines. Next, we have co-pays and things that aren’t covered. Some medical tests or specialists aren’t covered. Insurance doesn’t cover optical or dental, even though Sjogren’s Syndrome requires me to have extra check-ups. My teeth are affected by EDS and Sjogrens and I have constant dental work.
Eyesight can be damaged by my medication for Sjogren’s and requires that I see a eye doctor for frequent check-ups. A side-effect of Plaquenil can be eye damage that can lead to blindness. We have two huge hospital bills and make small monthly payments until these are paid.
There’s not much room for entertainment or anything fun when your budget is spoiled by medical expenses. But, we do the best we can.
Speeding is not relevant to me anymore. I don’t drive enough to speed. But, I was speedy in my former life. Before my health fell apart, I was very fast. I didn’t drive too fast, but I could accomplish things at a speedy pace.
I could do errands quickly, make lists quickly, and clean quickly. And, I was very fast in the kitchen, too. Cooking a meal from scratch was a blast and I loved doing it fast. Multi-tasking in the kitchen allowed me to cook and clean as I went. I could really turn out a tasty meal for my family.
Now, we’re lucky if we get a meat and two vegetables. I use the easiest recipes that cook themselves. And, there is nothing speedy about it. I do a few minutes of kitchen work and then must rest. Needless to say, there aren’t many exciting treats being prepared in my kitchen.
If I try to move speedily around the house, I’m usually stopped by a knee slipping out or a sharp pain in my back. Speed and quick movements or twisting make the sciatica grab or my ankle roll.
Slowing is more my speed. I’m definitely slowing in every part of my body and mind. Although I’m only 56, I’m slowing down. I’m walking slower, moving slower, and thinking slower. My movements are more deliberate, as I aim to prevent my joints from sliding out.
Taking my newest medicine, Gabapentin, has certainly caused slowing in my head. My thinking has suffered on this drug. My short-term memory is awful! As I try to write, or type, my spelling is all wrong. I know how to spell and type, but the letters are often being typed in the wrong order. This makes everything I write take much longer, as I’m always having to start the word again.
As a young person, I was often evaluating how well something was done. Had I done my best? Was I finished, or did more need to be done? Now, it’s not as important to me to evaluate everything. Part of getting older is the wonderful relinquishment of comparing myself to others.
Chronic pain has also taught me the lesson that evaluating myself by how much was done, isn’t nearly as important as I thought. Evaluating oneself is both helpful and hurtful. I believe in personal accountability and high standards. But, living on a performance treadmill can leave a chronically ill person in a sad place.
Evaluating personal actions and accomplishments must be seen through realistic eyes, and not rose-colored glasses. My reality steers me away from the evaluation of the rest of the world. I want to evaluate my life based on my personal beliefs and goals. My personal faith in Christ encourages me to evaluate my life through Scripture. That’s not easy.
Humans seem to love escaping. We fantasize being able to escape our responsibilities and becoming pampered at a spa with palm trees and a beautiful beach. Escaping can be fun! Many like to escape into movies, sports, or whatever attracts them.
When I first realized that my illnesses were truly chronic, I knew that it meant forever. Escaping this fact seemed very attractive. Escaping the pain, treatments, drug side-effects, and limitations appeared to be a positive thing.
Over time, I no longer needed to escape from my illnesses. Escaping them wasn’t possible, and I accepted that. My idea of escaping soon meant the same thing to me as to the normal healthy people.
Escaping just meant that when the world was too crazy, watching a tense college football game provided an amazing escape. Escaping could mean that I ventured on Pinterest to imagine my dream cabin. These harmless activities are a way of escape from stress. Everyone has their own escape. Of course, the beautiful beach would be totally acceptable 🙂
@2018, copyright Lisa Ehrman