How important is self-care?
Receiving a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease is overwhelming. There is so much to take in, especially if you have no knowledge about your diagnosed disease and weren’t expecting it.
There are many symptom and treatment resources available. However, there is a significant need to shed light on life changes that most often occur.
I could have saved a lot of heartache and frustration if I had been warned about and educated on the subject I am sharing today.
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The Importance of Self-Care
There are two forms of self-care. There’s the fun kind that everybody likes. And the not-so-fun type that feels more like work than a good time.
Today, I am sharing the importance of both and why they should be discussed with newly diagnosed patients.
Fun forms of self-care
First up, the fun stuff!
I don’t know anyone who isn’t a fan of treating themselves now and then. Unfortunately, when chronic pain from painful illnesses like fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis begin disrupting our lives, we find ourselves feeling as though we do not deserve to treat ourselves.
Some may feel that treating themselves to something nice is a waste of money. Others may think that they didn’t do enough to earn a treat.
Self-care is not earned! #MyChronicLifeTweet
If you want to start your day with a Starbucks coffee and can afford to, do it!
Yes, many “treats” come with a price tag, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t spend a little on yourself now and then. However, there are many FREE things that you can also treat yourself with! Sometimes, just spending time soaking in the bathtub and reading a book is all it takes to bring a little peace and joy into your life.
Not so fun but just as important
The importance of dietary choices, exercise, and lifestyle was never stressed or even addressed until after my health took a total $h!t.
Had it been discussed initially, I may have never experienced such a devastating blow as not being able to walk, sit, or stand without excruciating pain. It was only after reaching this point that doctors decided it was worth suggesting modifications.
I could barely move when I was first diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. When I shared with my rheumatologist how painful it was to exercise, his response was don’t do it.
He should have referred me to a physical therapist who could have taught me how to exercise differently. All I knew was what I was able to do before my body was riddled with crippling pain.
He also should have inquired about the areas that hurt the most during and/or after exercising. That information could have helped him improve my treatment and pain management plan.
I finally figured out how to exercise without increasing my pain levels in 2017. It should not have taken so long.
Working with a dietitian would have also been helpful. However, they would have needed to be educated about specific chronic illnesses.
Instead of handing us a printout of a popular diet among those with our illnesses, they need to address our nutritional needs individually. Broad-based diets may help the average person, but those of us with autoimmune diseases are far from average, and all have varying reactions to food.
As for lifestyle, one thing I wish my doctors would have shared with me is that it was okay to modify my activities. Instead, I felt like a failure for not being able to walk as long or far, to have to sit while washing dishes, and to cut back on social commitments.
What could help a newly diagnosed patient?
- Guidance in finding our individual food triggers.
- A referral to or list of physical therapists and dietitians who understand the complexity of autoimmune patients.
- Encouragement to modify existing activities in order to prevent injuries, increased pain, and loss of energy. A pamphlet with examples of modifications that could help.
Thank you for reading part eight of this nine-part series covering the topics I wish my doctors would have talked to me about when I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis.
- The Cost of Living with Fibromyalgia
- Invasion of the Brain Snatcher! Tips for Dealing with Fibro Fog
- Four Wearable Pain Relief Devices for Fibromyalgia and Arthritis
- Seven Embarrassing Fibromyalgia Symptoms
- F words that describe what it is like to live with Fibromyalgia
- 5 Ways to Reduce Fibromyalgia Pain