I have been living with multiple chronic illnesses for over 17 years. Throughout this time I have learned to expect my body to fail my expectations. Some of those failures were due to my own unrealistic expectations of what I wanted to do and others were the result of my conditions progressing making it impossible for my body to do what it had been. If I have learned anything throughout my chronic life it is that I should always expect the unexpected and sometimes that is a good thing.
What I expected
Six weeks ago my husband and I found out that our landlord was selling our home and we had one month to find a new house and move. Long story short (learn more by reading Moving Mayhem) we found a place but were unable to align our exit and move in dates. We had to go through the moving process twice in the past two weeks. The first phase was moving our stuff into storage and staying with a friend for two weeks until we were able to move in. We completed phase two of moving everything from storage into our new house this past weekend. I honestly didn’t expect my body to cooperate for the entire process. I expected my body to behave the way it did during our last move 7 years ago, which would have required lots of rest and not being able to do anything other than pack, clean, and move. I also expected to experience additional pain and to need weeks to recover since that’s what I experienced and needed last time.
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How my body failed to meet my expectations
My body failed to meet my expectations throughout the past six weeks. Instead of daily naps my body only demanded one or two naps a week. The few days that were spent in bed were because of pressure pushing in a couple of heatwaves, not because of packing, stress, or physical activity. The last time I moved I didn’t have the physical strength to do anything other than prepare for the move. This go around I was able to meet a few friends for coffee and dinner. I also rode the new Guardian’s of the Galaxy Mission Breakout ride at Disneyland. The morning after my day of Disney therapy I awoke with intense pain and worried that I would never finish packing. Yet the next day I was back in action. This was completely unexpected because I thought for sure I was going to be down for weeks.
In addition, on the first day of moving our stuff into storage, my hip joint swelled and attempted to dislocate. I had to work hard to not panic as I wondered how I was going to finish the next day. I fully expected to be in pain and unable to walk the next morning. To my surprise, my pain level decreased and I was able to help for more hours than I could have ever expected. Between phases one and two of our move I was also able to take Zeva the Diva for a daily 10-minute walk and go to Disneyland. During phase two I was able to help way more than I expected. Not only was I able to help my husband with unloading, I was also able to push through most of the day without pain medication making it possible for me to drive and fill my vehicle with boxes several times. I had to use my walker to get around on foot that evening but was able to walk and stand again the next morning. The following few days I was able to unpack and work on organizing the house while only needing a mobility aid in the evenings.
What the heck is going on?
For the first 12 years of my chronic life, the failures I experienced were always disappointing. My doctors all said that I would never improve, that this was as good as it gets. They were wrong! Everything began to change after I stopped treating my conditions with pharmaceutical medications and turned to medical marijuana (MMJ) 5 years ago. Treating my conditions only with MMJ has been amazing; however, the additions I have added to my treatment plan in these past six months have completely blown my mind. In addition to medicating with MMJ, I made dietary changes and committed to making exercise a part of my daily life, not just something I did when I felt like it. Then three months ago I added another alternative treatment, Oska Pulse, to my treatment plan. Some of the results from using my Oska Pulse were quick and remarkable. Other results have occurred at a slower pace, but they aren’t any less remarkable than the others. My stamina and strength have increased. I am able to feel the sources of my pain and address them before my entire body reacts. I am able to concentrate and focus on projects longer than I was before. More importantly, I have more time and energy for family and friends.
Adjusting my expectations
I got used to expecting my body to fail me. Each failure used to devastate me, over time I became emotionally numb to them. It seemed pointless to get upset over something doctors said I couldn’t change. Facing daily disappointment became my new normal. The past few months have changed this as my biggest failures have been anything but awful. Part of me wants to throw a party and celebrate each time my body surprises me, but the other is afraid that it’s not real or that it is only temporary. All I know is that I have entered a new phase in my chronic life. I may not be able to control flares that are caused from weather or my environment, but getting through them is a lot easier knowing that I am doing so much more during the time in between flare ups. I may get knocked down a bit more because I don’t know what my new limits are. Whether my improvements are temporary or permanent I am looking at life differently. I am keeping my expectations realistic, yet allowing myself to try new things without fear. Even if they do knock me down, the past few months have proven that I will rise again. Three years ago I told my husband that I had set a goal to be able to spend less time in my wheelchair and more on foot while at Disneyland. At that time I could barely handle a five minute walk down Main Street using my wheelchair as a walker, now I can do it for 10-15 minutes per visit without additional pain! My improvements haven’t all occurred overnight nor are they what some consider huge, but instead no matter how long they take I consider them all to be enormous WINS.
I want to be clear that I am not offering medical advice. I am just sharing my experience and treatment plan. I am happy to answer any questions you have about my plan, but cannot and will not advise you on your plan; that is for you to decide.