Chronic Pain

Need the help of my followers (:

Hello lovely people,

I apologise for my absence.
Things are crazy at the moment. I have gone from having minimal appointments, to suddenly having three to four a week! I now see two Gastroenterologists, am back seeing my Exercise Physiologist, Acupuncturist, Vestibular Physiotherapist through the Melbourne Dizzy Day Clinic, and my team leaders at the “Illness” Employment Agency. I was supposed to see the Physiotherapist through the Chronic Pain Clinic, but have had no time been well enough to attend!
Between my appointments I have had nasty flares of my nerve pain, and stomach. Once I get one thing settled, the other plays up! Haha, the story of my life.

My “small” kindness project has also brought back worldwide positive feedback, so I am super excited (but equally exhausted) from organising it all!

I’ve popped in today to announce that I have had multiple requests on how to donate, and have set up a “fundraising” page for anyone interested.

The “Be Kind To One Another Boxes” is a project in which I am funding the international shipping of ten full boxes of gifts (donated from multiple, worldwide, generous companies) to ten sufferers of Chronic Illness.

I decided to use my own savings to start this campaign with ten boxes, but word has quickly spread and now I have a room full of I N C R E D I B L E donations and kind-hearted humans wanting to assist in the funding of additional boxes.

If you are in a financial position where you can donate any amount of money – it will go towards the shipping of one FULL box of gifts to a stranger suffering from a Chronic Illness. I am aiming for $300AUD which will pay for an additional eight boxes.

If you would like to help out, please check out the Fundraising Page for more details. There you can also read a bit about my health journey, and how I came up with this Kindness Project.

A few of the wonderful companies who have already donated a considerable amount of product are:
MECCA Cosmetics
Breath Pearls
HASK Hair
HURRAW! Lip Balm
Pukka Tea

EVERY donation counts, whether smaller or larger! And all money is going to a really good cause.

Social media SHARES would be greatly appreciated!

The more awareness spread, means the more boxes I can mail, which means the more members of this very special community get a surprise box in the mail to brighten their day!

This is primarily an Instagram Project, so if you would like to nominate someone to go into the draw to receive a box, details can be found on my page.

C, xo

http://www.youcaring.com/bekindtooneanotherboxes 

http://www.instagram.com/indisposedandundiagnosed

 

NEW PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT!

Super excited to share that I am working with some incredible companies, and generous humans, to create a limited number of goodie-filled boxes for a few lucky members of the Chronically Ill Community.

I am funding the international shipping costs, and packaging, of these boxes entirely out of my own savings account, so there is NO payment required from you.

I have always wanted to do this project, as I know how lonely Chronic Illness can be. Many of us are left unable to work, unable to go to the grocery store and unable to spoil ourselves. Many of us do not have the luxury of paying for anything beyond medical appointments and bills.

The project’s ONLY aim is to send love and happiness to those who need it most.

I am in the process of collecting donations for the boxes for the whole of September and early October; aiming to have them packed and mailed in late October/early November.

I am aiming for ten initial boxes to be mailed worldwide, but this will depend on the amount of donations received. We already have close to fifteen larger companies donating a decent amount of product and samples such as soy candles, handmade jewellery, handmade comforters, hair masks, makeup and stationary.

If you are the owner of a company who have samples to spare, or you are a generous human who would like to donate any products – please send me an email with the headline “DONATIONS” to discuss.
(Note: All companies and donators will be personally thanked for their contributions in a Social Media Post)

If you have $15-$30 to spare, and would like to help, you would be able to contribute to the overseas mailing of one full box, and the chance to brighten the day of a stranger.
Please contact me for more information.

Do YOU know someone in Chronically Ill Community who:
– are in need of a cheer-up
– have performed a selfless act in spite of their own struggles
– have helped you through a rough time

Complete an act of kindness and nominate them to go into the DRAW to receive one of our limited number of boxes.

This event is primarily based on Instagram, so if you would like to participate or see the incredible product filling these boxes, then please make an account today and come follow us!

BUT considering that you have all supported me through the toughest of times and pushed me over the 1000+ follower mark, I will be accepting nominations from my blog followers who do not have an Instagram Account.

All you have to do is:
– follow the blog
email me at indisposedandundiagnosed@hotmail.com
with the headlineNOMINATION
– include the first (or full name) of the person you’d like to nominate, their country of residence and a social media url so that I can find, and contact, them if they win!
– also include WHY you are nominating them!

If you have an Instagram Account, then please personal message me the details above!

I am incredibly excited about this project, and humbled by the amount of love and positive feedback I have already received from people in the Chronic Illness Community and companies worldwide.

But, now I need your help finding the perfect well-deserving recipients of these boxes!

Love always,

C xo

I finally did it.

I used a Diffuser.

Hi lovely readers.
I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers (http://chronicillnessbloggers.com/chronic-illness-bloggers/) network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in now way influenced by the company.

If you are interested in reviewing products, please contact Julie through the Chronic Illness Bloggers website. She has created an incredible network, and is a wonderful advocate for our vast range of medical conditions.
There are many companies worldwide who are creating products that benefit the Chronically Ill Community, and who best to deliver an honest review of them? Us, of course.

The product I was sent is one that I have NEVER tried before.
It’s one of those things that you wish you had at times, but never get around to buying.

Organic Aroma’s Essential Oil Diffuser is elegantly crafted.
My grandparents have an old-school Diffuser machine that makes a lot of noise whilst filtering out scents, but this Diffuser reminds me of something bought in an antique store!

The Diffuser itself retails for 95USD (which is 129AUD), and was accompanied by an Australian adapter, and a sample size of Essential Oil.

Fragrances are a blessing and a curse for the Chronically Ill. Some of us are sensitive and feel ill at the potency of some aromas, and some of us reap benefits like relief from colds/flus, nausea and migraines.
I am usually Person A, so I was a bit hesitant at turning it on for the first time. To my surprise, the fragrance was VERY subtle and the only sound heard was a soft whisper as the fragrance was released.
A bonus surprise was that the Diffuser itself is on a colour timeframe and flashes gorgeous rays of rainbow colours whilst it releases the oil!
I took some photos of the gorgeous colours.


The colours are also very soft, so if you have a migraine it should not cause you any more discomfort.
It looks quite lovely in the dark, and creates a relaxing environment if you are feeling rundown, ill with a virus or you just need a moment of peace to yourself.

I only kept mine on for five minutes, and the delicate aroma of Chamomile, Bergamont and Sage remained in my room for just over three hours.

The Diffuser was incredibly easy to put together… similar to screwing in a lightbulb and switching it off and on.

Thank you to Organic Aromas for letting me try such an incredible product. I am definitely one happy customer, and cannot wait to purchase more oils to diffuse. If you have the money to spare or are looking for a gift, it is definitely a worthwhile investment.

Do you use an Oil Diffuser? What are your favourite fragrances?

C xo

HELLO, NEW OPTIONS.

For those who don’t have me on Instagram you missed out on a photo of me post-run around an oval due to this rush of happiness I got today.
There was more to the story than that…

I would like to share with you that I had my interview today with the Chronic Pain Management Clinic at one of the best hospitals here, and…

I got in!

(hence, why I felt on top of the world and ran an oval three times).

The interview had me sit in a small room with a Physiotherapist, a Rheumatologist, a Neurologist, a general GP and a witness.
I was interrogated beyond belief and had to recite every small detail since 2014 (which is incredibly difficult when you suffer from brain fog).
I named every medication I have been trialled on, every test done, every Specialist seen. I had to do the routine ‘touch your toes, jump on the spot thing’ too.

There was a bit of shock, disbelief and then they asked if they could have five minutes to themselves to discuss (which turned into about twenty minutes being alone in a room).
Then they came back and gave me the news: they wanted to help, so I’m IN!

Together, they will be writing a plan of attack and contacting my important Specialists (my Gastroenterologist, Rheumatologist and General Doctor). These are some of my potential pathways:

A) ZOSTRIX “chilli” cream used for sufferers of Post Herpetic Neuralgia.
Has anyone used it before? Apparently the burn is pretty painful, but it helps with nerve damage and severe arthritis? They were shocked that I was not put on it when I first developed Shingles. It might be too late now 😦

B) Physiotherapy with someone specialised in Post Herpetic Neuralgia (Nerve Pain from Shingles).

C) Anaesthetic injections in my neck

D) an appointment with the Dizzy Day clinic to help my balance and dizziness

E) A new antidepressant which targets nerve pain (my current one targets my stomach, so we have to be careful with this option).

I obviously chose option A to attempt first.
(Who would turn down an attempt at the Chilli cream?)

My consultation today was covered, but I will unfortunately have to pay a small fee to see the Physiotherapists. It is 85% cheaper than my current place, so I guess that’s a bonus.

My allowance with the government ends in August, but as usual, there is a wait with my start to treatment for at least another five weeks. My Government Allowance could potentially be extended so I won’t have to look for work for another three months and solely focus on treatment… but they don’t want to jump the gun yet. I still have two months.

So, to sum it all up, I am really excited to see where this takes me.
Like they said today, “it’s all about trial and error”. I was left thinking that everyone had given up on me, and that we had tried everything and that I would have to live with this uncertainty forever.

Apparently we haven’t tried everything. I just had to find a new team, with new ideas.

My treatment for H.Pylori ends on Friday, so I am also excited to finish that too. It has been one of the worst medication treatments I have ever been on (and I don’t usually whinge about medication).

Lots of love and spoons to each and every one of you.
Thank you for your endless support on my journey.
There is hope out there for each and every one of us. It unfortunately takes a lot of time, a lot of trials and a good, caring team of professionals… but there is hope.

C xo.

I Choose To Stay.

I have two big things that I’d like to share with my lovely followers today.

Firstly, I received a call today from a very well known hospital in Melbourne, and I have been accepted into the first Interview Application Process for the Chronic Pain Management Program I spoke about close to six months ago. My Specialists and I haven’t spoken about it since early January, assuming that our attempts were forgotten or rejected.
There is a lot of legal paperwork being sent out to me today, and to be entirely honest with you, I don’t have complete knowledge as to what I am signing up for.

All I know is that this program is not offered to every patient, it has taken six months to get through to the first process, I am expected to meet with them in two weeks and sit in front of a team of Medical Professionals who will be choosing the best cases to go forth with the program.

If there was any time to really share my story, it’s now.

I believe that this program is an ideal step in the right direction for my illness journey. I have reached a roadblock in regards to managing my chronic nerve pain, so this has come at the best time. I will keep you posted on the outcome and visits that follow via my Instagram Page and Blog.

Secondly, I would like to share a quick story with you in addition to spreading “hope” in spite of any bad days, or rough flareups you are currently experiencing.

I have been suffering with a really awful stomach flareup these past two weeks. I have gone through days where I have not eaten, I suddenly have reflux that is burning my throat and chest, and my stomach has decided not to digest any food – liquids or solids. It is an extremely exhausting process.

Last night I forced myself up and out of the house to surprise a really good friend at her birthday.
I have not made an appearance in a public bar in about two and a half years, due to illness, so this was a massive achievement for me.

As I am in war with my own body, I also battle my own mind when it comes to making decisions about using extra spoons for my social life. I can sit here for hours tossing up and pros and cons of going out for an event, and when I choose to cancel, I feel disheartened and label myself as a “shit friend”.
I do not enjoy letting my loved ones down, or disappointing them because I cannot attend their planned events.
We, (the chronically ill) feel awful day in, day out and then we feel burdened when we are in public with others, and guilty when we are too ill to be social. We know how much energy it takes to prepare and attend an event, and we know how guilt-ridden we will be if we choose not to.
It’s a constant cycle.
But, like the birthday girl said, “illness is out of your control”.
Remember that, because it is true.
Chronic Illness has taught me many things, but one of the important ones is that we did not ask for this, nor are we doing it to ourselves. We are not in control of the situation at hand. Now, you can either take that information and choose to die, or you can take it and choose to fight.

I choose to fight.

I am really lucky to have a supportive group of friends who understand my limitations, and do not grow ill feelings towards me if I cancel on them due to illness.
I was well cared for and had a really lovely night.

Many people have asked, and will ask the obvious: am I paying for it today?
Yes, I am paying for it today, and yes it was loud and terrifying and completely out of my comfort zone, but I’d go back and do it again. All of the pain I felt yesterday, and today, I would go through all over again if I could have another enjoyable night like this: a night where I felt as “normal” as could be.

I’m not encouraging you to force yourself to do things that your body cannot do. You know your own body and your limitations. But, I want to stress the fact that there ARE good moments.
They might not come around as often as I would like, but when they do they are beautiful.
My constant strength through the rough days is that eventually I will reach one day like this; one worth staying for:

C xo

In Loving Memory.

*IMPORTANT POST*

It is through tears and sadness that I write this post tonight.

I received some devastating news, and have spent my past two days in a complete state of shock. I have gone to write this so many times, but I just don’t know what to say.

Back in Childcare, I became very close to a mother from Spain, as I taught her firstborn. She was my first friend at that centre, and her family became more like family to me.
When I fell ill in late 2014, she also fell ill to similar symptoms as I. I resigned, and we both spent time searching for answers and keeping in close contact. We forever spoke about how tough it was finding support for something that nobody understood, and how challenging it was to be told to “think positively” repeatedly when we were suffering in silence. We both understood each other on a level that not many others can relate to; a level that you would understand quite well if you too are ill. She gave her full support for this blog, and for that I am so thankful.

It has been close to two years since I last worked with her son, and saw her face-to-face. We spoke every few weeks and shared health, children and life updates, and I was only catching up on her photos with the children a few days ago, when I found out the horrible news.

I can’t even say it, because I don’t want to believe it.

I know that this message must be shared, but I wish every second that it was not with my friend as the example.

I find myself grieving for the loss of a friend, and grieving for a husband and two younger children who are without a wife and mother from this day forth.

I cannot stress the following enough:

Chronic Illness, whether mental, physical or combined, is an incredibly difficult journey. The uncertainty is terrifying, the tests are invasive, the symptoms are debilitating. It is a burden, it is lifechanging, it is exhausting, it is lonely, it is depressing…
But please, please don’t let it become a death sentence.
Do not let the overwhelming darkness of Chronic Illness kill you.

Your parents, your extended family, your children, your friends, your colleagues; I guarantee that one or more of these love you and care about your wellbeing.
I, a complete stranger, care about your wellbeing.
You might have mistaken their silence for being rude or uncaring, but they most likely have NO knowledge of your inner thoughts and pain. You must take the step to reach out. Reach out to anyone.
Please, do not battle in silence.
There are loved ones, Psychologists, Doctors and Counsellors who are here to listen to you, to help you.

In memory of my dear friend, I ask three simple things of you tonight:

1) Reach out to your loved ones tonight and simply, LOVE them.
Put aside all anger, all stress and just tell your loved ones how much they mean to you, please.

2) If you know of someone going through hardship, or haven’t spoken to someone in a while, I encourage you to reach out and ask them the simple question, “How are you?”
This simple sentence packs a powerful punch.
Mental health is real,
Suicide is real,
and with these three words, you might start the conversation that saves someone’s life

3) Please share this post in loving memory of my friend, and to spread awareness for those battling Suicidal Thoughts who might not think that they have a reason to live tonight –
You DO.

Finally, to my dear friend A,

I am having a hard time accepting that this is goodbye.
I still find myself going to message you. I want to speak to you just one last time.
I don’t want to believe that this is how our journey ends.
You were a unique soul and the most incredible mother to those beautiful boys. I mean that. You were an even better wife and a genuine, loving friend.

I am holding close to my heart all of the wonderful memories I shared with you and your family. I remember the day that we met, and knowing that our friendship would last a life time. I loved my job for children and families like yours.
I clearly remember cuddles with little one and nicknaming him a Koala-bear as he glued himself to my chest; I remember the Christmas Decorations you handmade me (which I still have on my tree each year); I remember becoming so sidetracked with chatting at work, that I’d think you were one of my colleagues as you’d be sitting with me and the children at story time; and I remember your complete support when I first fell ill.
You offered numerous times to care for me, and to have relaxing “girl” days at your house. You sent me photos of the children’s birthdays, because you knew how heartbroken I was about having to leave my dream job. When you referred to me as your son’s second Mum, I was overwhelmed at how close we had all become – that we were now family.

Each night, you would tell me about all of the wonderful adventures you had planned for the children at home; that you always kept them busy with cooking, decorating, creative activities. You were adventurous, accepting, and kind beyond words.
I was in awe of you.

I went home wishing that all parents loved like you and your husband did.
I wished that every child I would teach in the future, was like yours.

You were destined to be a nurse and mother. It was your natural instinct to care for others before yourself, and I wish you could have seen how great you would have been.

I feel absolutely sick to my stomach that we will never get to have that girl’s night that we planned for so long.
I hope you know how special you were to so many people.
I know in my heart that you were strong. This does not at all show any sign of weakness, or define you. I know that you were suffering, and for that, I am so sorry.
I can’t stop crying, A.
I hope that you are reading this somewhere, and know how much of an impact you made on my life. I know that you will continue to guide the little one’s on their path through life, and you have my word that I will be there for them too. I will remind them of how incredible you were.

We will meet again one day, and we will have that girl’s night we planned, I promise.

I hope you are painfree now, sweetheart.
You will be missed terribly, and loved always.

Until we meet again, Rest In Peace X

If you are, or you know of someone, dealing with Suicidal Thoughts, Depression or general hardship, please locate a Suicide Hotline or Chatsite in your given country of residence:
http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html

 

Exercise for Chronic Pain.

You’ve heard it before. Surely one, or numerous Specialists, have recommended Exercise to help manage your Chronic Pain, Depression or Anxiety.

I received the all-clear from my Exercise Physiologist to start exercising again today.
We had an hour chat about all of my fears and goals. This was our second visit, out of the five that the Government give me for free.
After he told me to restart the regime, the expression on my face prompted his questioning.
I explained that I am excited to exercise, but am equally afraid.

There is a certain fear that accompanies being Chronically Ill and having to exercise.
I know that the non-Chronically Ill would just assume it is being “lazy”, but it is an actual fear.

We fear pushing ourselves too hard, and that we cause our symptoms to fluctuate for a few days following. By fluctuate, I mean fullforce pain, migraines, body aches, nausea and dizziness…. for days as our body recovers.

We fear consistency due to flareups. How do we have a daily routine when we can’t guarantee how we will feel on any given day?

We fear not being strong enough to exercise enough. How can we feel strong when our bodies are falling apart?

We fear people judging us.

We fear feeling worse, and not better.

We fear stopping. What happens if we have an exercise routine and we miss a day? Will our bodies punish us?

And then there are the things that happen that are out of our control – I was struck down with the worst flu I have ever had in my life (caught from a child, of course) and then to add to that week of hell, I ate some chicken that went off and I had “mild” food poisoning.
My Doctor strongly suggested no exercise until I regained my usual strength.

My Physiologist sat back and looked me straight in the eye when he said, “what do you really have to lose? Think about it. You feel sick every day. You feel pained, nausea. You exercise and feel worse for a few days. You don’t exercise and you are causing your body more harm. You will feel worse longterm, so we need to push the barriers. We need to feel sick for a few days in hope that in a few months we will feel better. You have felt the worst of this illness – at the beginning when everything was new and unknown. Think of exercise in the same way. In a few months you will understand it better, and understand how it works with your body and makes you feel. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain”

Valid point for a twenty-five year old young man.

We spoke further and he passed on wisdom to me that I’d like to share with you, because I noticed that I have never written a blog about exercise (probably because I have mostly been housebound for a year). So if you have already started to exercise, are making plans to exercise, or are not well enough to exercise now but hope to in the future, I have some tips for you:

START SMALL
We aren’t expected to benchpress, run a marathon or do 100 squats on our first day, our first week or first month. We must start incredibly small and build. I kept questioning my exercises as being too “light” on my body, but he compared me to a child. We are learning to use our muscles again – the ones that have been in bed for a year. We have relied on walking sticks, wheelchairs and people to be our leaning posts and aids when we feel dizzy. We sit down when we are tired. We don’t get to go out much. We don’t use our muscles like we used to.
Our bodies are weak. We are weak.
We must strengthen, but slowly.

BE CAUTIOUS WITH MANIPULATION AND MASSAGE FOR CHRONIC PAIN
We can’t trust everyone we see when dealing with Chronic Pain. I have seen numerous Osteopaths, a Chiropractor and a Physiotherapist, and today some alarming things were brought to my attention. I have been left literally crippled after manipulation by the three specialists above. I was told today that all of the exercises these people had asked me to do, and all of the money I invested in seeing them, was a waste and causing me more damage. For each manipulation technique that took place, I was twitching nerves in my neck and back, damaged by the Shingles.
The exercises they gave me to complete at home, in between our weekly sessions, were causing more strain on my back, which caused more strain on my neck, and the pain excelled instead of settled. I would go back to them for adjustments, and the cycle repeated.
Manipulation must be used with caution to chronic pain areas.

DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET
I have spent months Youtube-ing videos of Yoga and Pilates exercises to do in the comfort of my own home.
Little did I know that these exercises are actually putting more stress on my body. They are designed for “healthy” people, not the Chronically Ill. You need to find a professional who understands your condition and your limitations.
Which leads us to the most important point:

CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE PRACTIONER
I am not completely against Osteopaths and Chiropractors, as many years ago I found them to be great use for a muscle injury I had.
But if your sole purpose is to try and get fit, or you have been told that you need to manage your Chronic Pain through Exercise, then I recommend that you too find an Exercise Physiologist.
Don’t walk into a Gym and request a Personal Trainer – they will make your body train intensely and it will cause you more damage. Exercise Physiologists are trained to deal with Chronic Pain patients and will tailor an exercise routine to YOUR body and symptoms.
Best of all – they are not allowed or trained to manipulate your muscles. They guide you through appropriate techniques at your own pace.

GET INTO A ROUTINE
Routine for Chronic Illness is a must regardless of exercise.
If your body is in a routine, it functions a lot better than without a routine.
It does not have to be a strict routine – just a loosely based one, so you can still cater to your symptom fluctuations.
I wake up at 630am every morning, I have a coffee and take my supplements. I am out on a walk, or starting exercise by 830am. If you aren’t a morning person, then by all means train at night, BUT be weary that if you train before bed, your blood pressure will drop after your session and it is not recommended to go straight to sleep with low blood pressure. This is why I try to train before 2pm; before I get tired.

DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Not all of your friends or Gym buddies will have Chronic Pain or Chronic Illness so there is absolutely NO point in comparing yourself to them. Don’t compare your body to them, strength or regime. Their exercise regime is tailored to their needs, and yours is tailored to your condition.

TAKE BREAKS OR REST DAYS
This isn’t going to be easy. Remember how long you have been at home for, how much medication you are on, and how little movement you are able to do. My Physiologist stressed that we cannot train seven days a week. We must allow two days of rest, ESPECIALLY when we start training for the first time.
You can also split your exercises up throughout the day so your body doesn’t tire too quickly.
For example, my minimum time limit for walks is 10minutes, but my maximum is 20. I don’t have to walk ten minutes straight. I can walk for five minutes for times a day.
I am only allowed to do thirty squats a day.

KEEP TRYING AND BE PATIENT
Strength will come in time.
Time might mean three months, it might mean a year.
If you try and fail, try again.
It is okay to take a break and try again – I have a hundred times before today.
If you keep trying, you can’t be so hard on yourself if you fail. And, you will fail. Everyone one day your small steps will be much bigger ones.
You need to be patient.
Wanting to exercise is the first good step.

Remember that fear is healthy for people like us to experience, especially when it comes to exercise. A year ago, I never thought I’d exercise ever again. When you are not in control of your body, and its symptoms, it is hard to think of being “strong”.

I am including my Exercise Regime below, so you can get a rough idea of how “small” I am starting. I don’t want you to think that I am running around ovals, or doing jumping jacks whilst dancing to Zumba.
This is incredibly LIGHT exercise, and some of you might be saying “that isn’t exercise”.
I am incredibly sore the next day after doing this – trust me.

I am going to try my absolute hardest to keep up this regime, and will keep you up to date with progress. I hope that this piece makes you think about your own Chronic Pain, and possibilities of introducing exercise into your day.

IMG_0879

If you are already on an exercise plan, I’d love to hear about it and how you are going/feeling. Please comment below!

C xo

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STRONG Enough?

We each go through days when we tell ourselves that we are not “strong” enough.
Why?

Because society categorises us as not being “strong” enough.

As we go through our journey, we are subconsciously being attacked about our lack of strength; in ways that most of you might not even realise.

We watch television and are inundated with Gym Advertisements and the physical STRENGTH that each person possesses. Because exercise equals physical strength, and everyone automatically assumes that you are ill because you are not exercising, therefore you are not STRONG.
We use social media as self-promotion, and for product-promotion.
Here’s a line that many of you will know of, the dreaded “take this and you will feel STRONGER/better
We post photos and videos of moments that highlight our STRENGTH and happiness.
We leave Specialist’s offices feeling absolutely defeated after they use the cliché line “you just have to be STRONGER”, and one that was used on me last night “you have the STRENGTH to overcome this”.
We go home and we hear this popular line of encouragement used by our loved ones in an attempt to make us “better”. They have not experienced what we have, so they associate strength with getting better and tell us to be STRONGER. That is really their way of saying “I just wish you were better”, and that somehow if we try harder we can overcome our medical challenges.
We buy magazines, with covers of STRONG, healthy people.
Strength is marketed.
We leave Doctor’s offices being surrounded by people suffering from the common cold virus, and we subconsciously tell ourselves that we wish we just had a common cold because then we’d be STRONG enough to fight it, beat it.

And so, we go through each of our days telling ourselves that we are strong enough because of the comparison to others.

We go to bed wondering what else we could have done in an attempt to feel “better”, “stronger”.
We question ourselves; and please don’t lie, because if I can admit to doing it then I know you have too. We will sit in a slump, questioning our own body and what we have to do in order to gain this so-called-strength that everyone speaks of. We will cry, we will scream; wishing for our course of events to be different.

We pressure ourselves, because we feel pressured.

Example of Chronically Ill Brain:
Who do I speak to? Hello? Tell me.
Where do I obtain such strength to overcome my illness?
What does it mean to be strong?
Am I not strong enough?
Do I have to exercise, or exercise harder?
Do I have to eat healthier, or attend that party that I fear I will be too sick to make it for?
Do I have to gain muscle, or throw myself into a job?
Do I have to work five days a week instead of two?
Do I have to drive to that appointment, even though I feel too ill?
Do I have to step out of my wheelchair, or
not feel depressed?
Strength, strength, strength.
Why am I not strong enough to beat this?


I am here to tell you that,
I know the STRENGTH that it took to get out of bed this morning.
I know how many times you hit your alarm because your body ached.
I know the STRENGTH it took to feed your children and nappychange them this morning, and the effort it took you to have a shower this morning.
I know the STRENGTH you had when you dragged yourself to that appointment, and used all of your energy chatting to your Doctor about progress or decline.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to try and exercise today, even if that means walking to the mailbox and back.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to tell do, or say, something thoughtful to your partner, because you feared they would not know how much you were thankful for their support.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to pick yourself up off the floor after crying what felt like an ocean.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to try and swallow each tablet, multiple times a day.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to half-smile, or to laugh.

I know.

So, when you see or hear the term STRENGTH, you are to stop for a minute and take a deep breath in.

Count to five (that takes strength too).
And then I want you to tell yourself, and whoever/whatever is in front of you questioning your strength, this:

In this moment,
I am strong enough,
to make it through the next (moment).

In this moment, YOU are STRONG ENOUGH, to make it through the next moment.
That’s all you need to know. You don’t need to know how; just know that you WILL.

You may not see this strength that you possess, but it is there and I promise you it will be pulling you through the roughest of nights, the toughest of moments.
You go to sleep begging for a way out, and you wake up wondering how you made it through the night before; there it is, your strength.
You probably don’t even know that you have it, but it’s there.
I know it is, because somewhere within me, it’s there too and I have it to thank for keeping me here this long.
Strength isn’t about pushing your body to do the unthinkable, so you then have to suffer the repercussions afterwards, and it is most certainly not about beating our diseases. We can push ourselves to achieve more, but if we fail it does not mean we are not strong.
How lovely it would be to think of overcoming our illness, and maybe some of us will, but most of us can’t. We are tied to each other (illness and you, illness and me).

Sure, it would be lovely to push ourselves to achieve more.

There are things that our illness stops us from doing, and then there are things we fear doing because of our illness, but that does not mean that we are not strong enough.

It’s all well and good for people to push us to be stronger, to try harder; because most of them think that we sit at home doing nothing all day, and then the rest of them have our best intentions at heart. They just want us to be better, and there is nothing wrong with that.

But don’t let them question your strength.

Don’t let them question YOUR efforts, because I know.
I know exactly what it feels like.
I know exactly how hard you are trying.

We might not be physically strong, we might not even be mentally strong at times, and most of us will not be able to overcome our illnesses,
BUT we possess a rare type of strength that others don’t have –

Chronic Illness Strength,

and let me be the first to tell you that this type of strength is stronger than physical and mental combined.

In this moment, I am strong enough, to make it through the next.

C xo

  
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The Many Faces Of Chronic Illness.

Hi readers,

This is a must read.

I apologise for my recent absence.
Illness Army is incredibly popular, and I have only made time to go through each of your emails and publish your stories instead of my own.
Ihave also had a lot going on in regards to my health, a few rough flareups and became lost in my dark thoughts, symptoms and busy agenda.

Even though I have been absent on WordPress, I have not been so absent on Social Media.
I have received an influx of personal messages lately reading the following:
You are looking great lately. You must be feeling better,”
and,
I have seen that you have been getting out more lately. You must feel fine!”

Incredible.
Photos begin circling of my face painted with a little bit of makeup, hair straightened, sitting in a public place and suddenly everyone remembers that I am still alive, and I am deemed as cured/better.

Firstly, I am not cured.
I don’t know how to respond to the “feeling better” statement.
I don’t know why society assumes that someone that appears to look healthy, is healthy.
If anything, I am adjusting better to my new norm.

Secondly, yes I might be out – I can assure you it was for an hour, no more.
Do you know how much strength and additional effort it takes a Chronically Ill sufferer to get up and leave the house for ‘events’?
I don’t know about you, but I personally have to be dragged out kicking and screaming. Every inch of my body aches, I am trying to hold in my wanting to vomit and the last thing I want to do is be in public being stared at because ‘the normal looking girl is walking too slow’.

I don’t know how to feel when I receive these personal messages.
Do I take it as a compliment, with pride?
Or do I take it as an insult? As people come to me after seeing a photo or a post, telling me that I look great, and then 101 question me as to why I am still not at work, why I am still in appointments, why I am still unable to drive and why I missed our lunch date.
I am continuously spoken to like they think that at the snap of my fingers I can just turn on the Health Button. It is strongly ringing in my head as an insult.

It’s always one extreme or the other.
I am either deemed well enough to run a marathon, or I must sit in my house alone all day because the symptoms are making me miserable.

There is never an inbetween.
People don’t understand that we can feel strong enough to go out some days, but still come home sick/still be sick>

Are people naive enough to think that I’m going to happily post a photo of myself when I have acne all over my face, I’ve been vomiting my organs out and I am so pale that I could be mistaken for Casper the Ghost?
Ah no, and I am certainly not going to post a Facebook status about how I contemplated killing myself four times this week, either.

I, like you, choose to only publicise my achievements; the days that are slightly more bearable than others, and the photos that make me look half-decent. Why? Because I’m human.

Forgive me if I, too, want one day where I look ‘normal’, ‘beautiful’, ‘unpained’.

Well, maybe this is the problem?
Maybe sufferers of Chronic Illness are feeling pressured to be something we are not; healthy.
Maybe this is what needs to change; I/we need to make our statements raw, and our photos as honest and natural as they can be, in order for everyone to stop and take notice of the bigger picture.

So, I have taken a ‘selfie’ every day for the past thirty days, to show you that appearances are not everything.
I am not “pretty” every day and I don’t even care.
But, mostly, I want you to see the fluctuation.
I want you to see the face behind the “makeup days”.
I want to share that there are MANY faces of Chronic Illness that aren’t often publicised.
I don’t get to pick and choose what days I am ill and unable to leave my house. I don’t get to pick and choose which events I have to cancel, or when my flareups decide to make place or for how long they last. You cannot make a solid judgement from the photos; you can only make ASSUMPTIONS.

And queue the non-sick raising their hands, asking, “but you were able to go out some days so why can’t you just push yourself to go out EVERY day?”

Some symptom days are just HARSHER than others.
The point is, I did not wake up CURED.
I felt sick the entire time, but some on some of the days the symptoms were just easier to manage than the others.

I have days where I walk down the street and you would not think that I was suffering with severe pain or nausea twenty-four hours a day… and then there are days where I look pale and pained; there are days when I run to the toilet, I can’t speak due to nausea and I’m curled up in a ball on the floor crying.

I want you to know that it is OKAY to have days where you don’t wear makeup, don’t feel like going out to see a friend, your hair looks frizzy, your skin looks like a dot-to-dot puzzle. It’s also okay to get a day where you feel well enough to get dressed up and do things, and to still come home at the end of the night being sick. It’s OKAY.

Take a look at my photos, and before you jump to drastic conclusions, assuming that I have magically overcome my illness overnight – let me tell you that I haven’t.

IMG_9785IMG_9786IMG_9787FullSizeRender

I’ll let you in on a little secret;
I was sick every single day in each of these photos…

But, you wouldn’t know it by looking at me.

C xo

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Illness Army: “9 Things I wish I knew when I first fell ill”

 

Here is a thoughtful, honest piece from my friend Rhosyn.
She runs the blog https://rhosynmd.wordpress.com and is happy to chat to any sufferers who are seeking support. Rhosynhas been ill for four years now and has gained many coping mechanisms along the way, that she is happy to share with you.
Please give her a follow.

 

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A few months ago I was laying in bed after another fruitless doctors appointment and I was thinking of all the things I wish I knew at the start of my illness, so I decided to write them down in the hope that they might help someone else. So, without further ado, here are my top tips for the recently diagnosed chronic illness warrior.

1.) Don’t dive into anything right away.

Make sure you give yourself time and space to consider which path is right for you, because there will be many, and you can’t do them all at once. I know all you want is to get better as fast as possible, but if you dive straight in without considering the consequences you could end up doing more harm than good.

2.) Let yourself grieve for your old life.

As hard as this is to hear, your life is never going to be the same again. It’s a devastating loss, especially if you’re young, and it’s incredible hard to accept that you can’t do all the things you want. I don’t think it’s possible to get over it completely, of course you’re still going to have days when all you feel are anger and sadness, but you need to let out those feelings instead of holding onto them or pushing them down. If you refuse to deal with how you feel, it’ll only get worse and end up impacting your physical health as well.

3.) Get a therapist.

I know a lot of people are reluctant to do this, and some see as a sign of weakness (mainly due to the connotations between therapy and mental illness and the stigma that that comes with), but that’s a load of crap. There’s no shame in admitting you’re having trouble dealing with everything, because who gets a chronic illness, has their life turned upside down, and is perfectly fine? Nobody.

I know therapy can be expensive, but many therapists have negotiable fees for people who are on lower income, so don’t worry about asking about that. Personally I think it’s worth every penny. I don’t think I could cope if I didn’t have someone to talk to about everything I’m feeling and help me make sense of it, it makes me feel a whole lot less crazy haha.

4.) Become your own doctor.

Our global healthcare system has a very poor understanding of chronic illness as a whole. My main illness (myalgic encephalomyelitis) doesn’t even have a diagnostic test for goodness sake!

GP’s will vary between “incredible understanding but useless” to “disbelief that you actually are ill”. I am very lucky that I have a very understanding GP, but there’s really not much she can do, so you, the patient, have to take over.

I go nearly every month armed with a list of questions, and whenever you get put on a new medication, double and triple check for any interactions with the tablets you’re already taking. It may sound obsessive, but it is necessary. You’d be surprised how often these things are missed.

5.) There will be people who don’t understand and make hurtful comments.

This was probably the hardest one to learn. I’ve always been incredible open about my illnesses, how they affect me, and how I struggle day to day. I thought by doing this I could side step the stigma and ignorance that comes with the territory of having chronic and/or mental illnesses. Oh how wrong I was… If I had a pound for every time I’d heard; “Come on, you’re just not trying hard enough”, “everyone gets tired sometimes”, or “oh I know how you feel, I feel so hungover today” (I could go on)…I’d have enough money to find myself a cure!

There’s no way to get around the fact that some people just don’t get it, and never will. The easiest thing to do is to just cut them out of your life. I know this may seem drastic, but honestly it’s so much easier in the long run. You need every scrap of energy you can, you don’t have enough to waste it on trying to get people to understand.

6.) Get used to asking for help.

Realising you can’t do things that you used to be able to because you’re ill is so hard, in fact there aren’t words describe how crushing it is. The realisation that at 22 I’m just as dependent on my parents as I was when I was a child is utterly disempowering. Not being able to walk to the corner shop, or even to walk to the kitchen to get myself breakfast… Well…there is no way to get used to it, but the sooner you swallow your pride and ask for help, the sooner you’ll get better because you won’t be pushing yourself to do things that are beyond you at that moment.

7.) Your body is going to change.

This is an important one. At the beginning of my illness I got put on a medication that caused me to gain a lot of weight. It happened so fast that I would look in the mirror and not recognise the person who I saw. It made me very depressed, and it’s something that I still struggle with now sometimes.

Everyone will experience different changes, whether it’s gaining weight, losing hair, or having bad skin. As so far as is possible try not to let it affect how you are as person, because whatever it is that changes your body, it won’t change how kind you are, how generous you or how much you love your friends and family. Those are things that matter and the things that people remember, hold on to them.

8.) Get on social media.

Being chronically ill is incredible isolating. Your energy is extremely limited, and it has to go towards the necessary tasks such as work (if you’re well enough), cooking, and many (many) doctors appointments. You will also probably find that the number of people you call friends, will decrease significantly. They do say hard times reveal true friends, and that has never been more true than with chronic illness. Initially of course, this is incredible painful, but it does get easier, I can vouch for that.

I’m sure many of you are already on social media, I certainly was when I first became ill. However I had no idea of the amazing community (the “spoonie community”) of chronic illness sufferers that exists online. Whether it’s Facebook groups, Twitter, Instagram, and (obviously) blogs. Whatever you are going through or suffering from I can guarantee that you can find someone going through something similar. The amount of support the online community offers is incredible.

9.) Some days you will feel like you can’t go on, but you can!

This is where I find Mindfullness really helpful. Day to day, I don’t think about the future, I don’t even think about next week, or tomorrow. If I did I would just collapse into an existential crisis. I just think about today, this hour, this minute. There’s no point in thinking about anything else because I don’t know how I’m going to feel tomorrow or the next day.

I’m not going sugar-coat it and say that having a chronic illness is easy, because I’d be lying, it’s not. There are days when it all feels like too much and there’s no point in anything anymore, but please know that everyone has days like that. It’s completely normal to feel depressed sometimes. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other. The human spirit is uniquely indomitable, you can survive this!

I hope you like what I’ve written, do please go check out my main blog if you do, and please let me know if there’s anything you think I should add to this list.

Until next time, Rhosyn