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I may have been born in the late ’60s, but I am a child of the ’70s!
One of my favorite television shows of the seventies was Charlie’s Angels. Not only did I never miss an episode, the following day I would make my friends act them out with me!
For those of you who are not familiar with this show, Charlie had a private detective agency and he hired three sexy women that he called angels. The original angels were Farrah Fawcett as Jill Munroe, Kate Jackson as Sabrina Duncan, and Jaclyn Smith as Kelly Garrett. They were badass women kicking butt and uncovering mysteries.
I wanted to be an Angel, Jill in particular because, well, hello that hair!!!!!
Little did I know that a show about beautiful, strong, and intelligent women would also give me the “know-how” I would need to survive life with not just one, but multiple chronic illnesses!
Look for clues
When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, degenerative disc disease, coccydynia, and endometriosis, I had no clue that each chronic illness would lead to a life of searching.
Searching for what you ask? What not would be easier to answer!
Whether you have one chronic illness or a slew of them, the life of the chronically ill is spent searching for ways to relieve pain, new symptoms, reoccurrence of old symptoms, side-effects, and treatments.
The chronically ill spend a lot of time investigating their bodies, the fluids that come out of them, their mental status, abilities, and disabilities.
Thankfully Charlie’s Angels taught me to never give up and that there is always an explanation. My doctors may have given up, but I will never give up searching for the source of my chronic illnesses.
Trust my instincts
Like any good detective, I have learned to trust my instincts. I received my first chronic illness diagnosis in 2001 and since then I have had countless tests come back and show nothing wrong when I went in with a complaint of pain.
Thanks to my Angel training I knew not to accept that answer and kept pushing the issue and presenting new clues to my doctors.
In several cases, tests showed absolutely nothing wrong with me, but surgeries revealed the truth. Tweet
The findings of each surgery proved and validated my complaints by being something that no test could have ever revealed.
Trusting my instincts has saved my life countless times and will until I am no longer able to speak for myself. I can never stress enough how important it is to be your own advocate!
Know when to fight
Like a well trained private eye, I know how to protect myself. While I may not be punching or handcuffing my enemies, I have to fight to receive the care I deserve and need. Tweet
I have learned when fighting a doctor about a diagnosis or test is worth my time or not. Sometimes my energy is better spent finding a new physician.
I have also learned to listen to my body. It will let me know if the situation is urgent or if it can wait a little longer.
This instinct also helps me get through life. I have learned what levels of pain and exhaustion can be pushed through and what cannot.
Living alone, void of any assistance from others when you have a chronic illness is possible, but it’s not realistic. Whether you are married or not, it is best to have a team.
First, you need a medical team that is working together and not against each other. They and you, need to be on the same page about the treatment of the disease and pain.
Then you need your personal team. You need someone that you can confide in because trust me, there are going to be days when you just need to vent your fears without terrifying your spouse/partner.
My husband is a fantastic team member that I don’t ever want to be without. He has witnessed the horrific treatment from surgeons and has been there for me at the absolute worst moments of my illnesses.
Other teammates that are beneficial are folks to help with transportation, provide an occasional meal, or to tidy up your home when you are at your worst. No matter what, you need someone in your life to make you laugh because without laughter we are only left with sorrow.
Be sure to train one or more of your team to be your patient advocate. You may not always be alert enough to express your requests or needs. Having someone who can speak for you when you are unable is invaluable!!!
Thanks to the skills I learned from Charlie’s Angels, I continue to fight pain, solve symptom mysteries, and refuse to give up!