friendships and chronic illness

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This is a tough subject for me to write about as it brings up a big bag of mixed emotions.  Chronic illness makes relationships tough, very tough.  When you have been ill as long as I have, friendships tend to fall by the way side.  People in our society want a quick fix, “feel better soon” is on so many cards that I want to puke.  CI doesn’t work that way, sickness is forever, barring a miraculous healing……and……yes, I pray and continue to pray for healing and continue to learn about my illnesses and take what steps I can to heal, but our society doesn’t like to deal with things for the long haul.

When you don’t know how you are going to feel in a week, let alone the next hour, it is hard to plan ahead.  Your brain so wants to go out and have fun, see friends, explore the world, plan a vacation for next year, but your body may have a very different plan.

As you grow older with your illness(es) it is even harder to maintain friendships.  You have had to cancel too often, your energy to reach out to people starts to dwindle.  You have a hard enough time just getting through your day……….work (if that is even possible), laundry, dishes, cleaning, cooking, taking care of the kiddos (if that is in your life), medical appointments, the list goes on and on………………by the end of the day, there is little to no energy left – if you even made it to the end of the day without having to crawl back into bed or back to the sofa.

This post may be sounding a bit like a downer, but I don’t mean it to be so.  It is more of a realistic reflection by someone who has been living this life for more than two decades.  Only you can determine how to maintain friendships, but I have discovered that it was much easier when I was younger………but as people grow older, have families, careers, their lives become bigger and mine has become smaller.  Yes, I was blessed with kids before my CIs really took hold, so all of my energy went to trying to get through my day.  Maintaining friendships for me was sending emails and personal letters letting others know I was thinking about them.  So many outings and get-togethers had to be cancelled because I just couldn’t be there………..some people get it, others don’t, and you just have to let those that don’t go.  It’s not worth the effort or stress on your already struggling body.

You have to be strong enough to truly believe that this is not your fault.  You did nothing wrong and you are an amazing person, they are the ones who are missing out by not taking time to be around you.  I have come to realize in my years of interacting with people who suffer, most of them are the most compassionate, loving, strong, amazing, gentle, generous people around.  If someone can’t see that because you had to cancel dinner plans as a result of your illness……..it is their loss.  Eventually the friendship will dissolve and that extra energy can be put in a place where someone will appreciate it and just maybe that someone is YOU!

 

 

cs lewis quote on friendship 15 Famous Quotes on Friendship

Who doesn’t love a care package?

In an earlier post I put together a sickness package that I wish I would have had when I and several of my family members came down with the dreaded, can’t-get-out-of-bed-for-a-week flu.  This got me thinking about just how wonderful care packages are and how much I would like to have one brought to me.  Who doesn’t love knowing that she is being thought of in such a kind way?

Letting someone with CI know you care is extra special.  Since CIs are rarely cured, we endure being ill for the duration, or, in really simple terms, forever.  In today’s world people tend to get bored and lose interest in people who never get well.  So anything you do for someone with a CI such as a card, a gift, a homemade meal, groceries, a text, or an email to let the person know you are thinking about him/her is always appreciated.

So, what if you don’t have anyone who would think to give you a pick-me-up gift?  I know this sounds a little different but, what if you purchased a care package for yourself, to keep on hand to bring out when you are having one of those horrible, terrible, no good days? O.K.,  maybe it wouldn’t be as cool if you bought if for yourself, but what is wrong with giving yourself a gift?  Absolutely NOTHING!

So, I made another trip to The Dollar Tree and put together items that I would enjoy receiving, and have listed what was purchased with a picture of the items below.  Although some of the prices may be cheaper at another store, I regularly use The Dollar Tree as I know exactly how much I am going to have to pay.  If you have ten dollars, you know you can purchase nine items.  Simple.  Plus, Dollar Tree stores are much smaller than the big box stores, making them physically easier for me to shop.

My care package includes:

Two books:  Books can be a difficult gift to choose for someone else, especially when you have such a limited choice as you do at a dollar store.  It does help if you know if they enjoy fiction or nonfiction.  I prefer nonfiction which was in an even less supply that day but I was able to find two that seemed interesting, hiding in the very back of the top shelf,  Masters of Wisdom by Edward Abdill and Apha Better Juice by Roy Blount, Jr.

Note cards –   I like to send cards to others who are having a difficult time to let them know I am thinking about them, (who doesn’t love getting real mail), or to send a thank to someone who has been helpful or kind.  Lying in bed gives me plenty of time to write out some personal notes in a card.

Stamps –  This was obviously not from the Dollar Store but if you are going to include cards, stamps are a must.  This is an extra special blessing to a person who is unable to get out of the house regularly.

Journal – I think that journaling is super important as there are many benefits to writing down your feelings, thoughts, and emotions when dealing with tough situations.  A journal could also be used as a gratitude or meditation journal, exercise or health log to keep track of your food, water, supplement and medication intake and symptom list.

Pens – A must with a journal and these pens have a comfort grip.

A snack –  Since I eat gluten free I included veggie straws, a decent tasting gluten free snack.  Make sure you check the person’s food allergies or preferences before purchasing food for a care package.

A drink –  A bottle of Martinelli’s sparkling apple juice made in the U.S.  This drink tastes amazing but it is a horrible deal at the dollar store.  It is much cheaper per ounce at Walmart and Meijer.  Because I don’t consume sugar or artificial sweeteners,there were few choices of drink at Dollar Tree.

Box of tissues –  I could have purchased a box with more sheets but instead I chose a box with a pretty picture on it.  Who doesn’t need a little more beauty in her life?

Lip balm –  I thought this was a great deal, all natural ingredients and made in the US.

Finally, I placed all the items in a small trash basket.  There were so many choices, colorful plastic containers, beautifully colored reusable bags, and mixing bowls.  Instead I picked the small white trash can because I figured most people need a small trash can by their beds (I do!) and if they have one, a new one would be a blessing to put somewhere else they spend a lot of time.

Until next time…………YOU are a superhero and superheros deserve a gift now and then!

 

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10 steps to feeling like a super model while living with CI

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OK…………definitely not, but when you live inside your home for days on end in pjs, it doesn’t take much to make you feel like your’re rockin’ it!

  1.  Drink the recommended amount of water during the day and eat only healthy foods.
  2.  Shower and use soap.
  3.  Wash my hair with shampoo AND use conditioner!
  4.   Brush hair vs. throwing it into a ponytail or hat without brushing it.
  5.   Put on outside clothes.  Seriously………..my daughter stated the other day, Mom, we have bought more houses than you have purchased clothes since I have been alive.  I literally spit my drink out.  So true, so funny, and so sad.
  6.   Put concealer under my eyes to help hide the dark circles.
  7.   Put on some lip gloss………..to distract from my eyes.
  8.   Put real shoes on my feet, not just in the car for in case I get pulled over.
  9.   Leave the house, hey someone needs to see me in real clothing after all that effort!
  10.   Carry a small purse!
  11.   OK…………final step………take a well deserved nap!

 

………Until next time, YOU are a superhero and all superheros look amazing in their outdoor clothes.

10 things I do when I have to travel, while my stupid chronic illnesses tag along.

green and white volkswagen combi

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When I was much younger, traveling was something I looked forward to doing in my life.  I dreamed that some day I/we would have enough money to visit a few places I have always dreamed of seeing in person……..Italy, India, Cuba, Belize and the Southwest U.S.  Instead, extra money goes to pay medical bills and the thought of getting on a plane or sitting in a vehicle for a long road trip creates anxiety.  I already feel ill, being in a moving anything makes me feel worse…………every, single, time. Period.  It just sucks.

But there are times in our life when we need to go somewhere that requires being in a moving vehicle for more than a trip across town, and since teleportation isn’t a thing yet, I just have to suck it up and get through it.

So here are a few things that have made traveling more bearable for me:

  1.  I stay hydrated.  I always feel better when my body has adequate water.  Bottled is a must as tap (chlorinated) water makes me instantly ill.
  2.   I eat as healthy as possible.  Junk food makes me feel like just like that, junk.  I usually pack a cooler and bring cut up veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds, grain-free tortilla chips, and some health bars.
  3.   I watch the world pass by.  Unfortunately I can’t read, look at my phone or do much of anything other than look out the window while being in a moving object.  Doing otherwise has had some bad results.
  4.   I bring my pillows and blanket with me.  I must have a wedge pillow to sleep as elevating my head at night allows me to function better the next day.  Then my own blanket to cozy up with at the end of the day allows me to sleep better.
  5.   I don’t push myself into that k(no)w zone.  You know the place of no return, when you realize that if you do anymore you won’t be able to function the next day.  I use to worry about letting others down but now, I realize that even if I am going to unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings, I won’t force my body to do things it just doesn’t want to do.  I do what I can and know I have done my best.
  6.  I do my best to take all supplements and/or medication on time.  I keep these with me as I travel so I don’t have to waste precious energy frantically searching for them at the last minute.
  7.  I bring earbuds with me so I can listen to relaxing music or a podcast when I need to focus on something other than how crappy I feel.
  8.  I pack comfortable clothing and shoes.  I know we all want to look nice but comfort is so much more important.
  9.   If I am going to be busy on the day I arrive at my destination, I always ask for early check-in.  That way I have time to relax before I need to be somewhere.
  10.    I always bring my heating pad.  That way I have something to help relieve sore muscles other than a hot shower.

 

Until next time…………..YOU are a superhero and superheros sometimes have to fly!

10 frugal mental pick-me-ups

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Living with illness day-in and day-out not only wears on your body, but takes a toll on your mental health.  It is hard to keep picking yourself up when you are in constant pain, hear a trail of bad news from health care practitioners, and experience the isolation that CI can bring.  Depression and anxiety start to take a grip on your brain and it can be a very hard grip to shake.  Taking time, daily, to give yourself a mental pick-me-up is an  important part of keeping as healthy as possible.

 

  1.  Pray/Meditate for guidance, for new ways to deal with your illness, for healing paths that bring comfort, and for people into your life who truly care.
  2.   Listen to music that makes you happy………from Mozart to The Beatles from Madonna to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, music has a way of making us happy and allowing our minds to escape from reality – as least for a little while.
  3.   Get outside in nature.  Who doesn’t love looking at pictures of the beach, a flower in a field or a beautiful tree in a forest?  To experience it in person allows you to internalize the beauty and refresh the soul.
  4.   Drink a glass of filtered water.  It is so important that we stay properly hydrated.  It seems like such an easy thing to do but when you are in pain and nauseous, it can be a chore to take in enough fluids.  Water is known to improve mood, reduce headaches and flush out toxins.  Plain water does get boring, so adding lemon, cucumber, lime, orange, strawberries, even some fresh herbs such as mint or basil can add flavor and bring added benefits.  Be creative!
  5.   Sit outside and soak in some rays for 15 minutes. Sun increases your vitamin D levels which can give your immune system and mood a boost.
  6.  Laugh.  Get on-line and read some jokes, get on Pinterest, search for some funny memes, or watch a feel good movie……..laughter decreases stress hormones and increases endorphins, which are the feel good chemicals.
  7.  Breathe……….sometimes we are so stressed we are not really breathing.  Take some  deep breaths, not forced, just natural.  Our body NEEDS oxygen to live and deep breathing has been proven to have a positive impact on your brain, heart, digestion and immune system.  Check-in with yourself at least twice a day to make sure you are really breathing.
  8.  Journal.  Sometimes the chronic illness monster gets the best of us.  We just need to say stuff, swear like a drunken sailor, scream at the top of our lungs, yell at our doctors for not believing/helping/healing, and who are we to tell?  When we are alone it is imperative that we get those thoughts and feelings out so they are not internalized, creating a breeding ground for more illness.  Write those feelings down as they come.  Do not worry about what it is or how it is written, just let it out.
  9.   Do some gentle exercise like take a walk, a few yoga poses, ti chi, or stretches.  Whenever possible, move your body as much as possible as this also releases endorphins, possibly reducing depressive symptoms.  Walking to and from the bathroom and/or kitchen is way better than nothing.
  10.   Eat a healthy snack.  It is important that we continue to eat clean, healthy food despite our illnesses.  Eating food in its most natural state is best for providing our bodies the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to function as highly as possible.  A smoothie, a piece of fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds or 1/2 an avocado are all healthy and simple.

Until next time……………….You are a superhero!  (Yes, I mean YOU!)