De-Stress

January72010

I don’t really know what to write.  I’ve been kind of a writing funk.  More precisely the stress of everything it getting to me.  I’m in trouble financially, my doctors aren’t currently doing anything to help me get better, and I’ve been doing a lot of “being there” for my friends and family which I am more than happy to do – it’s just that its emotionally draining.

It’s so important to stay stress free when you have any chronic illness but especially one that’s autoimmune related.  High levels of stress lead to flareups of my illness.

Once upon a time I was a cutter.  Since then I have found other ways to de-stress that don’t involve hurting myself.  Now I have a little chocolate therapy on occasion (or rather frequently), I watch a favorite movie (usually The Princess Bride when I’m not feeling well), I talk to a friend or my sister about what’s bothering me, I scrapbook, or I force myself to write in this blog.  I’m feeling a little better already.

What do you do to de-stress when the road gets too bumpy?

A page from my Peace Book.

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The Unexpected

November102009

Sometimes you expect one thing and get another… especially when living with multiple chronic illnesses. I finally saw the Sjogren’s specialist at yesterday. He spent a good 40 minutes pouring over my records and taking notes on them. He listened to my insanely long list of symptoms.

Click to continue reading “The Unexpected”

Dreaming Big

October142009

When you are faced everyday with a chronic illness, it is easy to find your life suddenly defined by the things you can’t do which is why its why its all the more important to remember to find things you can do.

2947840674_a36744017e_oIt can be little things you still can take pleasure in.  For me it is things scrapbooking, writing this blog, reading a good book.  But sometimes you have to dream big and push yourself.  Sometimes you have to WRITE a good book.

There are a lot of things I really can’t do.  So many things I gave up due to my illnesses.  I no longer can go hiking or play tennis.  I can’t even go out in the sun much due to sun sensitivity.  Before I got sick I dreamed of being a filmmaker and was attending University of Southern California’s film school in pursuit of that dream.  Sadly illness and the financial hardship that often comes with made me a college drop out.  I used to love acting and community theater… another passion I’ve had to let fall by the wayside.

But it hasn’t been all giving things up.  My illness has made me push myself to find new ways to stimulate, entertain, and express myself.  I discovered my passion for scrapbooking and other crafts.  With nothing to do but sit at my computer all day long, I learned I had a knack for the technical .  Now I can build websites and social networks from bed.  I got involved in alternate reality games as a player and later as a game designer.  Through these games I found an online community of the most supportive, caring, and talented people I know who I feel fortunate to call my friends.  Friends that have accepted me illness and all.  I started writing this blog and rediscovered my passion for writing.

nano_flyer_thumb2009Which is why next month I am going to push myself once more.  Next month is National Novel Writing Month, and I have signed myself up for the second year in a row.  And along with the other participants, I am going to try and write an entire novel in a month.

It is scary to announce this here on this blog because now I am in a way accountable to someone other than myself.  But I think that will be a good thing as last year I barely managed to write 1000 words.  Last year, I was fresh out of a 6 week hospitalization, but my novel succumbed to the pain and the fatigue and the brain fog.  I am worried that I won’t be able to concentrate this year.  That the pain will be too distracting.  That I’ll be too tired.  But then I remember all the things I have already given up and all the things I have gained since this illness began and decide that if I give up trying and I give up the DREAM then I have already lost.

If I don’t end up writing a novel in a month, so be it.  Frankly I would be happy to make a big dent in a rough draft.  Even that would be a huge accomplishment for anyone.  But I’m dreaming big, so I’m going for the whole thing.

During the month of November, I invite you to track my word count as I write on my NaNoWriMo page.  I invite you to cheer me on, or even join me!  If writing a whole novel in a month isn’t you’re thing, I hope you’ll think about the things you’ve given up along the way due to your own pain (physical or otherwise) and all the things you’ve gained along you’re own journey, and still remember how to dream big.

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Visible

September142009

You Are Free Today is the first day of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, and it has me thinking about thinking about both the visible and invisible aspects of my illnesses.   Nearly a year ago now my invisible illnesses became a lot more visible.  The pain from my arthritis became so severe I could no longer walk or even stand.  I was forced to use a wheelchair for my mobility.

Before the wheelchair (and the walker that came before it), my illness was completely invisible.  At the time I found it completely frustrating that no one could see that I was sick.  People assumed that what they couldn’t see couldn’t possibly be serious.  Sometimes people assumed that what they couldn’t see wasn’t even real.  Now I wish I could ditch the wheelchair and still pass myself off as “normal” when I wanted to.  I feel like now my first impression always inevitably includes my wheelchair.

But despite this very visible symbol of my illnesses, I feel more invisible than ever.  It is very hard to go out in a wheelchair, and I am usually too tired and in too much pain to do so.  As a result, I am mostly home-bound.  I am literally invisible to the people in my life I used to see in person.  Out of sight.  Out of mind.

But though I am invisible to most people in the physical world, I am very visible in the virtual world.  Through this blog my illness is not invisible at all.  It is there for people to see plain as day.  Through this blog the invisible becomes visible.  Here I can let you see the things that most people can’t.

Here the joint pain, the numbness in my left side of my body, the severe dryness, the low grade fevers, the debilitating fatigue, the pain when I swallow, the nausea, the stomach pain, the rib pain, the muscle weakness, the tremors, the migraines, the involuntary muscle moments, the memory and concentration problems, the seizures, the sleep apnea, and the obsessive compulsive disorder all become visible.

Here too, the emotional toll is no longer invisible.  The worry, the loneliness, the anxiety for my future, the grief for how things once were, and the sadness for the friends I’ve lost along the way all become visible.

And I especially hope that lessons I’ve learned, the inner strength I’ve found, the faith in myself, and hope for the future are not invisible here either.


09_blogging-badge2 National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week is held annually in September and is a worldwide effort to bring together people who live with invisible chronic illness and those who love them.

A virtual conference in held at www.invisibleillnessweek.com and the blog is updated a few times a day during August and September.

Bloggers are welcome to participate anytime, but are encouraged to unite efforts during August and September to increase awareness online and share their experiences as well as encouragement. A badge is available that says you are blogging during the actual awareness week.

Start a blog on Novel Patient Community today and blog about your chronic illness in support of the awareness week!

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Art Therapy

September62009

It’s hard to stave off the boredom that sets in when you are sick all the time with multiple chronic illnesses. I have hard time focusing for long on things like TV and movies. I can’t read for hours and hours like I used to. The brain fog gets in the way. And as big of a computer nerd as I am, I can only spend so much time on it. So I have to find other ways to fill my time, and I mostly fill it with arts and crafts.

Click to continue reading “Art Therapy”

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