Gettting Things Done with Chronic Illness: Chronic Pain edition

Today I thought I’d provide a personal update on how my Rule of Life formation is going in light of a flare-up of back pain. Thankfully, I’ve been free of chronic back pain for eight months since going on a new medication–which has provided the first remission since I was pregnant 18 years ago. However, 12 days ago it flared up and so I’ve been challenged to remember my coping skills. Thankfully it has not been 24/7 pain and so I’ve been able to follow the basics of my simple Rule much of the time but sometimes I’ve forgotten things due to the pain. Since the pain is not constant–which is different from my decades long struggle with chronic back pain–I’m not sure if I’m handling my pain meds the best way so I have finally promised myself to call the doctor’s office when they open today and schedule an appointment for some help with my medication strategy, etc. If things don’t improve, I’ll be needing a massage or two to get my pain levels down and although I enjoy them immensely they aren’t covered by insurance so in my present circumstances they are third line treatment, meds and lifestyle accommodations being the first and second.

Aside from not enjoying this return of something I had hoped might be gone forever, my son graduates from high school in one month and we’ll have grandparents here for five days and, as always, I need to step up my game regarding the level of my housekeeping. Aside from the normal challenges of ongoing decluttering, back pain doesn’t exactly make cleaning the most appealing task in the world. So, I’m having to dip into my old toolbox of tips for living with back pain and come up with some helpful reminders of things other than medication that will allow me to get housework done when my back is being cranky or even outright uncooperative.

My first and best tool is music therapy. I can either put my phone in my pocket and use earbuds or AirPlay the music off our TV (which has the added benefit of giving me access to my husband’s iTunes library; woo hoo!) as well as listen to favorite songs I don’t own via YouTube. This helps put some pep in my step and whether or not I’m capable of singing along while performing my household tasks it definitely makes them go by faster!

Another tool–one particularly helpful when the pain levels are higher and/or I’m just worn out from coping with the pain–is watching something on Netflix in spurts. Currently I’m gearing up for the final season of Person of Interest by going back through all the previous episodes. The way I use this tool is to watch for a set amount of time–e.g., 10 minutes–and then get up and work for a set amount of time–say another 10 minutes. This is really helpful to me as it gets my mind off the pain and I get more done than I usually would with just taking plain reading or music video breaks (although these are also good alternatives to TV). I’ve also found that if I’m rewatching something, as in my current POI situation, I can often just listen to the episode while working at mindless tasks–dishes, laundry, dusting, putting things back where they belong–and this strategy keeps me on my feet longer than I usually would be willing to try. I just have to be careful not to overdo how long I’m working when engaged in a particularly interesting storyline!

The last tool I’ll share today is aromatherapy. Using a wax melt burner continuously with whatever scent seems appropriate for my needs on any given day–or even during a certain segment of the day–has become a daily tool I use even when I don’t have back pain as it assists with improving my mood and energy, something I can always benefit from every day.

Additionally, from my work-in-progress Rule I use the Liturgy of the Hours Divine Office app’s audio option to pray when I’m feeling frazzled and need a boost and want to do something that will help me as well as fit in with my desire to live a more prayerful life. The daytime hours’ offices are often around 10 minutes and so this makes them very doable while I’m experiencing pain or brain fog or even just plain old fatigue.

I hope these ideas have helped. Perhaps you have some of your own that you’d like to share in the comments; I’d love to hear them and I’m sure they’d be welcome by this blog’s readers with chronic illness. Despite whatever physical and/or mental illness you’re struggling with today, I wish you a meaningful and productive day–whatever that may look like with your current limits. Enjoy!

Getting Things Done with Chronic Illness: Lupus edition

Today’s reblogged post is written by someone who knows the ropes when it comes to managing her lupus. Thanks to Sara Gorman’s innovative, comprehensive approach–detailed in her outstanding book, Despite Lupus: How to Live Well with a Chronic Illness (my all-time favorite book on living with chronic illness)–she has been able, over the years of learning to live with lupus, to write a book, blog (Despite Lupus), have two children, and start a home-based business related to her lifestyle (Sara Gorman’s Pillbags). Despite what you might think, she’s no superwoman but rather an extremely realistic person who has accepted her limits and learned how to manage her health so that it supports her life’s priorities, all one step at a time. I thought this post might appeal to my readers who are chronically ill and/or are writers who are chronically struggling with finding time to write.

http://despitelupus.blogspot.com/2016/04/finding-time-to-manage-lupus-just-put.html

Back to Basics: A Simple Prayer for Help

Over the past few weeks I’ve been on new meds and am feeling better than I have in over a year–praise God!–so naturally I’ve been tackling the backlog of chaos around our home. Having energy, motivation, and focus–not to mention less pain–go a long way in my getting things done. So, I’m spurred on to get into a regular routine again for a variety of reasons including that it’s the beginning of school for the last year for our son and so our family routine changes. The following prayer states my intention perfectly. Maybe it will also reflect yours.

“Dear God,

I really would like to simplify [and thereby help stabilize] my life, but I’ve tried before. This time help me actually do it, especially when I don’t feel like it.

Amen.”

Marcia Ramsland, Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way!

Reading in any amount is good therapy

“And when I read, and really I do not read so much, only a few authors, – a few men that I discovered by accident – I do this because they look at things in a broader, milder and more affectionate way than I do, and because they know life better, so that I can learn from them.”
― Vincent van Gogh

Who of us couldn’t use more of this perspective? Well said, Vincent; well said. Rest in peace, brother.

Monday Musings

This a.m. I took the offspring into town for some doctoring as he was too sick to attend school. On the way there, as we were pressed for time, I stopped by a major fast food chain to get something completely non-nutritious but yummy for me as I was feeling peckish after only a few slurps of coffee and a tiny bowl of granola with which I’d taken my meds. After arriving and checking in at the doctor’s office—a first come, first served establishment with multiple patients ahead of us—I began to unpack the bag and handed over the two hash brown orders to my teen, who promptly wolfed them down (even a fever and extreme fatigue hadn’t dampened his appetite for a treat!). Looking forward to my sausage gravy w/biscuit I pulled out my order, napkins, and nothing else. That’s right. No utensils. Now I don’t know about where you come from, but both my mom and my grandmothers taught me to eat biscuits and gravy with a fork (and knife, if desired), and I’ve even been known to use a spoon in a pinch, but I definitely was not going to play a game of fondue with my food in the doctor’s waiting room! I’m already known for having a “drinking problem” (spilling drinks on myself, surfaces, others, etc).

So I called the fast food place and they apologized profusely and said they’d replace the entire order. I said all I really needed was utensils, especially since my son had already consumed the hash browns, but they insisted, saying they wanted me to have a fresh, hot order when I picked up the utensils. After a short while of my stomach grumbling and feeling grumpy from low blood sugar, I checked with the receptionist about the wait and explained my caffeine dilemma to her and she said it was perfectly fine to leave a teen in the waiting room while I basically went a tenth or two of a mile back to the food establishment. I said I’d like to add a coffee to my order this time, especially in gratitude for their generosity (but hey—let’s be honest: I needed my full fix!), but they wouldn’t even let me pay for that. Since their coffee is basically unpalatable, I was grateful they let me specify the number of half and half containers I wanted (six).

I returned back to the clinic and ate some of my breakfast and drank some coffee and suddenly I was able to see how nicely how things had turned to be. My son had the extra hash browns (again, a rare treat for him) later in the day and I had a nice breakfast treat for myself to look forward to tomorrow—complete with my own utensils! 🙂

Of course once I got home I dropped my remaining coffee and spent five minutes proving the quicker picker upper is not necessarily quick, followed by the discovery that the pharmacy had filled a 21 count tablet Rx with 12: oopsie! They, too, were very gracious, so I finished my breakfast with the leftover coffee in the carafe here (vastly better tasting) and a glass of milk for lunch. After making sure my son had everything he need I told him I was going to take a short nap—probably 20 minutes or so—since I’d gone to bed late and gotten up early. The next thing I know it my phone is buzzing on mute with the calling tone so I check and it’s my husband so I answer. I couldn’t believe it was two whole hours later, but some days lots of little stress after a long previous (which was very lovely but we were out later than intended) really wears me out. So I booted up my brain with a snack and the DVR’d episode of “Call the Midwife,”which was mostly depressing this time, so I followed it with “Mr. Selfridge,” which likewise barely redeemed the time spent watching it. Sigh. But then I was able to eat some more, get out—for some reason I was still extremely fatigued from the morning’s outing—and pick up the rest of my son’s Rx. There was no waiting in the normally gruesomely long line at that discount store where so many of us find ourselves obliged to do a lot of business, although I do really value their pharmacy staff as they’ve been so good to me over the years. I just went straight to the consult window and got profuse apologies although it seemed perfectly understandable to me: 12 vs 21; after all, it is Monday.

I got in and out of the store and parking lot in record time and was finally able to see how much there was to be grateful for in all of today’s blunders, oversights, unintended events (mega napping), etc. My body just can’t do things like it used to, nor can my brain. I’m grateful that I’m learning to accept my limits and lose some of the shame of asking my husband to get us a pizza and more string cheese on the way home as today I couldn’t handle the overload of the noise of the grocery side of the store when I was in there.

And I’m so appreciative of small town employees who are genuinely sorry for life’s goof-ups and frequently go above and beyond to make up for their mistake. It’s one of the many treasures of rural living’s slower, more personalized pace.

Well, that’s all for now…time to wind down so I can call it an evening and hopefully not need another long nap tomorrow—most days I don’t need a nap at all, but I suspect some planned resting before I wear out—like I used to do when my fibromyalgia was worse—is not a bad idea.

Here’s to learning and accepting one’s limits and learning to live within them with gratitude for what we can still do!

Too Much Tuesday

Some days there is just too much coming at you. All you can do is put one foot in front of the other and do the next thing, and then, as soon as you get the chance, be kind to yourself and take a breather. I know this works because I’ve had to do this many days in my life. Today was another one of them. And yet the frustration is still there with myself, that things have to be so hard. But a very wise friend told me tonight that she found that it was usually from trying to do too much all at once and by just focusing on doing on small thing—a baby step, if you will—at a time, then taking breaks as necessary has worked out much better for her. I really needed to hear that—and I hope some of you will have as well.

Writers’ Wednesday

I’d like to try featuring some regular posts about writing, writers, and perhaps even my own experience with working on crawling out from under my shell as a writer. So today is my first plunge into this venture. Join me as we explore together something that, I hope, will be of interest to those of us who are newer to this craft. Those of you who are more experienced are encouraged to fill the com box with your own inspiration, tips, resources, etc. Since there is so much written about writing I know I could just share favorite authors on writing, websites, and writing services but what I’d like to do is go beyond that, although I’m sure I’ll include a fair share of them along the way. Here we go!

I’d like to start with sharing a post from a wonderful author, blogger, and generally amazing online influence on me who has been an enormous inspiration to me long before I began blogging but was longing to do some kind of writing other than journaling. It didn’t hurt that during the years I homeschooled our approach to learning was so similar. I always wished she lived near me so I could meet her in person—still do!—because I felt we had so much in common. The versatile woman I speak of is none other than Karen Edmisten, a convert to Christianity (eventually Roman Catholic) from atheism, who has multiple book credits, has written for magazines, and maintains a unique online presence–plus she loves naps, as do I (an added bonus, in my opinion).

The story of how she came to find her own writing vocation can be found here:

http://karenedmisten.blogspot.com/2008/09/vocation-surrender-and-writing.html

I’ve reread it multiple times since first seeing it and printing it out for my own personal motivation to push past my fears about pursuing writing. But although I set up a blog domain, it took me until 2011 to overcome my anxiety about writing for anyone’s eyes other than my journal’s, even though I had published an article in a small magazine for the homeschool community in 1995, despite not yet having any children (the article being on infertility). In the intervening years, my chronic anxiety levels had become amped up and it wasn’t until the past few years or so that I was diagnosed with mood disorders, which explained, in part, the difficulty I was having with my writing (or lack of it, other than in fits and starts).

In my case, I think the biggest problem was I always secretly wanted to write fiction but never felt I was creative enough to do so, so much so that even when I would get something down on paper it started to overwhelm me almost instantly and I gave it up almost as soon as I started. Non-fiction is another matter. I can gab on my blog almost as easily as I can rant (my son’s favorite term for when I speak at length about any topic). Then one day it finally occurred to me: why am I trying to mentally think of myself only as a writer if: a) I write fiction, and b) I get published? I owe my release from that self-prison to Marshall J. Cook, author of Freeing Your Creativity: A Writer’s Guide—How to write more and better than you ever thought you could.

http://www.amazon.com/Freeing-Your-Creativity-PAPERBACK-PRINTING/dp/0898796644/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1423692014&sr=8-2&keywords=freeing+your+creativity

 

This quote of his from that very book is what finally liberated me:

“Not all writing has a large audience—or any audience at all. We write because we want to, because we need to, even because we have to. We write for what the process of writing can do for us and to us. For some of us, writing is as much a part of life—and as necessary—as breathing.”

Now I just try and follow the old adage, “Write what you know.”

For what it’s worth, the “Coach” (Marshall’s nickname) maintains a fun, contributor-friendly monthly newsletter for writers. I have found it a refreshingly unstuffy e-zine that always leaves me pondering both serious matters as well as usually laughing so hard it results in some level of inconvenience; a small price to pay for inspiration. You can find it here, including back issues:

http://continuingstudies.wisc.edu/writing/extra-innings/

So, if you also are a writer—and if you write then you are, whether or not it’s for anyone else’s eyes—what is holding you back from taking the next step in developing your craft? Or if you’ve already done that, it would be great to hear what helped you get over that hump.

Until next time…fellow writing nerds, keep writing if you want to keep breathing (not really, but it sounded cool!).

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: