I’ve been thinking a lot today about living with a chronic illness and/or chronic pain. I bet there’s thousands upon thousands of blog posts on this subject but I process best through writing and so I will add my few words to the millions already written. Grab a coffee with me and keep reading if you’re interested :).
Why this post today? Well I guess it’s because the last couple days I’ve been struggling more with my energy and so I’ve been wondering why. I’ve gone through the mental list of possible reasons and in the end I think it’s just what comes with the territory of chronic illness – and you know, that’s OK. I’ve come to the conclusion that there will always be ups and downs but I really think living well through all of it requires consistency, persistence, and a whole lot of grace.
I’m not quiet about my medical conditions/history, in fact I’m probably annoyingly verbal about it. Yet if you were to meet me and spend a week with me and if I were not to verbalize anything you would never know that I have any sort of condition (granted you could probably pick up on the twisted back if you were really paying attention). In fact I would have never ever given myself a label of “chronic” anything up until a couple years ago. I suppose I never labelled anything until I was trying to conceive and was advised to stop taking my NSAID’s to boost my chances. In that moment I began to understand that I did in fact suffer from chronic pain and had done so for so many years that I can’t remember a time without pain. Despite the chronic aspect of my pain I continued to live well and it really didn’t impact much of anything in my life.
Fast forward to the last 7 months.
I was just coming out of my full time working momma fog and began to realize that I had been feeling significantly unwell. I’ve already wrote about my health struggles but it’s only recently that I have accepted that this too could very well be a chronic thing. The thing is, it’s only the last 4-6 weeks that I’ve began feeling well again despite my health issues. I feel as though I’m finally rising above the fog and now that every serious scenario has been ruled out I can finally begin to gain control again. See, in the midst of all of this I had allowed myself to spiral downwards in a number of ways. I felt out of control of my health as a whole and because of that I began to feel out of control of other areas of my life – spiritually, mentally, and financially. I am so thankful for amazing physicians who allowed me to find solutions – even if they are just helping symptoms at this point – so that I could be lifted out of the dizzy fog and back onto solid ground.
A couple weeks ago I made the conscious decision that I was now going to gain back some control. Obviously I know I’m never fully in control but there are always steps we can take to live well and live responsibly in a way that benefits our own lives and therefore the lives around us. The hard part is realizing that it is our responsibility to live well, and living well always takes a certain amount of effort and consistency. I know from past experience that it is very possible to live well despite chronic illness and pain and I am determined to get back to that point. Here’s what I’m doing to get to that point:
- Daily walking – this means getting up as early as 0445 in the morning and walking for a minimum of 30 minutes as well as getting out for walks during the day. There’s not a lot I can do safely in terms of exercise but walking is easy, cheap and safe.
- 3x/week body weight exercise – a lot of the time this is a very short amount of time and crammed into the daily routines of life. It looks like dance parties with my son incorporating squats, planks, push-ups etc, or cooking supper while doing squats, or planking during Ezekiel’s bath time.
- Eating fresh and eating green – having the garden has helped a lot with this part and I’m not being strict yet because I know it will be a natural evolution of life but I am trying to be far more conscious of what goes into my mouth.
- Podcasts – I’ve been listening to a lot of health and wellness podcasts that have greatly enhanced my mental health. I love learning but rarely have time to do new learning so this is something that’s easy to do while walking and driving.
- Sleep – I’ve been getting to bed at a consistent time and waking at a consistent time.
- Walking and exercise also contributes to mental wellness.
- Meditation – I’ve committed to a daily meditation using an app. I don’t outline a specific amount of time or what I want to accomplish – all of that will come with practice.
- Keep the credit cards at home – I’ve taken them out of my wallet and put them away in a drawer. I don’t do much online shopping so that’s not even a temptation for me but I consistently have been using my credit cards when I run out of cash and then paying them off with my pay cheques instead of just keeping myself accountable to the budget. I’m determined to be credit card debt free in the next few months so that I can focus on paying student loans/debts. The easiest way to get rid of the temptation is to remove it all together.
- Strict grocery budget – I spend a ridiculous amount of money on food. So I’ve instituted a strict grocery budget and I’m following it by using a calculator in the grocery store which helps me to say “no” to those extra items that I don’t really need but think I want. When I go to the farmers market I take only the amount of cash left over from the grocery store and leave my wallet in the car so I’m not tempted to by anything extra.
- Drink drip coffee – this is huge for me guys. This was the hardest one to come to terms with. If I have some extra money in the budget I’ll buy my special coffee but otherwise I’ll drink the drip coffee that my husband drinks.
There are sacrifices that need to be made but I know that these small sacrifices now will reap amazing rewards when it comes to living well and especially living well with chronic illnesses and pain. Each part of our lives are intertwined and when one part is suffering the other parts are sure to follow which is why I’m addressing each area of my life in order to gain back wellness.
The end goal is to be in optimal health before getting pregnant with our next child and I’m determined to reach that goal.