Chronic Illness, Contentment, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome

Contentment In Five Minutes

For many years I’ve read about the 15 minute rule.  You’re supposed to set the alarm for 15 minutes and work like mad to work on a chore or project.  If you do this routine often, you’d be amazed at how much you could accomplish.


As my chronic illnesses have progressed, I’ve found that if I do this for 15 minutes I will crash for the rest of the day.  I might feel alright while I’m up, but it would always hit me with symptoms of intense fatigue, shortness of breath, racing heart, and neuropathy.  I found myself  very discouraged and felt worthless at not being able to make any progress on my to-do list.

This was also a problem for me at physical therapy.  The standard appointment is 1 hour of suffering through all the exercises.  After 4 rounds of physical therapy I always felt like a failure.  Physical therapy isn’t designed for someone with lots of chronic illnesses.  It’s designed best for people overcoming injuries or recovering from surgery.  No matter how many times I tell the therapist about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, they still assign treatment for a “normal” person.

Doing an hour of exercise puts me literally to bed for 1-3 days.  This isn’t doing me any good.  My body is not normal and things must be done on a smaller scale.  That’s why I’m trying something new.


Instead of 15 minute times of work I’m going to try 5 minutes of work.  It’s important for me to actually set the alarm on my phone because I will keep trying to go longer.  I’m just competitive enough with myself to push forward, even though I know it will hurt.

Here are some of the things I really want to do, and I can do 5 minutes of them:

  • Exercise
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Laundry
  • Scrapbook (or at least put the photos in an album)
  • File paperwork
  • Organize a cabinet

Now, I can’t do all of these in a row.  There needs to be a good rest in between each 5 minute segment.  Some days, I may only be able to do one of these.  But, one is better than none.  And, for a person who is performance or work-oriented this makes me feel better.  When you feel defeated, don’t quit.  You just have to try another way to get it done.

I may not be able to do 5 minutes of everything.  I can’t do 5 minutes of walking, because my feet are just too bad.  Walking only 5 minutes brings severe pain to my feet.  There’s always something new that is hurting, so I have to figure out a solution.


Using a tall stool in the kitchen will let me mix up a batch of muffins without causing extra pain.  Heading to the couch to rest between steps in a recipe is often necessary.  But, in the end, there are still delicious muffins to eat.  No, I’m not superwoman.  I’m just me.  And, that’s alright.

Romwe Generic Fall & Winter

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