I struggled to accept that I needed to change how I did things for the first 13 years of living with fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, endometriosis, and coccydynia. All I wanted to do was to go on with my life the way I had and not have to figure out a new way to live. Let’s get real, even life without a painful chronic illness can be difficult, but throw in an incurable injury or illness and it can be enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel. My first instinct when I would discover that I was unable to do something the way I did it before becoming chronically ill was to give up. The sad part is that if I had prepared myself to embrace change, I wouldn’t have missed out on so much during those years.
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I hear so many people say that they can’t do this or they had to give up that just because they couldn’t do it like they did before their illness or injury. But when asked if they tried doing it differently, they became defensive. They shut down by saying that we have no right to suggest anything because we don’t understand what they are going through. My favorite excuse is that doing something differently isn’t the same. Well, duh!! Sorry, but seriously, I have done and said both. How dare anyone suggest that I hadn’t given it my all before giving up, but if I were to tell the truth, they would be right. I didn’t try hard enough and I am willing to bet that many others haven’t either.
I was a quitter. Chronic pain had made doing everything so difficult that I couldn’t see alternative options. Even when set in front of me, I hesitated to try them. My illnesses had won control over my life. Does that sound familiar? Are you instinctively saying no or dismissing new ideas because you are tired of having everything you do increase your pain level? I refused to accept that doing things differently could be as satisfying, even though the end result would be the same. What I didn’t realize is that by doing things differently, I would still have the same outcome in regards to the task, but I wouldn’t have had the extra pain that doing it the way I used to caused. But I was so terrified of increasing my pain, that I refused to even consider trying.
Like the gazillion posts I see daily on social media, I too was bitter and angry about having to give up doing things that I loved. I was furious that I couldn’t exercise, go out, travel, care for my family, or work like I used to. To avoid listening to other’s suggestions, I stopped taking their calls, answering the door, and even began taking extended social media breaks. Yet, if I had just put my anger, resentment, jealousy (yep, that is something many of us in the chronic community don’t want to admit, but many are or were jealous of those who can do what we used to do), and had opened my mind and ears, I might have began to realize that life can be good and be different at the same time.
In the past 7 years I have learned that it is okay to do things differently. These lessons have made my life one that I wouldn’t trade for anything. My hope is that it won’t take you reaching the point that I did (ready to commit suicide) to realize that change is okay. I am not saying that you should be jumping for joy because now your chronic illnesses and pain are making you overhaul your entire life, but to not allow it to become a darkness that takes possession of your mind.
Here is a quick and far from full list of modifications that have made living with my chronic diseases easier and less painful:
There was and is nothing easy about anything I have done or currently do. Living with one or multiple chronic illnesses is hard, but the hard work pays off! Without modifications, I would be back where I was before, at home, alone, and in excruciating pain. Although I would have argued this point 7 years ago, not changing how you live is the easy way. It is more painful, depressing, and aggravating, but it doesn’t require any work. Making modifications to make living with your chronic illness and/or pain easier requires patience, persistence, and positive attitude. Most of the modifications I made have decreased my daily pain levels as well as decreased the frequency and severity of my flares. The rest have made my life easier, which has resulted in less stress, which doesn’t increase my pain.
Are you ready to give up or are you ready to embrace the challenge of finding a new way to live? I have some good news for you! You are not alone! While not always easy to find, especially in the chronic community, there are others who aren’t wallowing in self-pity. I invite you to join my Facebook groups that are filled with members who like you want to thrive and not just survive. Another resource is my eBook Make Pain Your Bitch: How to Dominate Your Chronic Life. It won’t cure you, but it will help you recognize areas of your life that require modification and challenge you to make those changes. Click here to order your copy today.
Have you accepted your chronic illness? I mean really accepted it??!! Because, if you haven’t, you are most likely making your life harder than it has to be and increasing your pain in the process.
“Accepting a diagnosis is what puts us in charge. Yes, our illnesses are the reasons for having to make changes to how we do things, but we are the ones who decide what we are willing to do in order to decrease or limit our pain. If my spine is throbbing, I can either choose to use a wheelchair or walk. If I choose to walk, I am guaranteed to send my pain level through the roof and sentence myself to days or weeks in bed. I may still increase my pain level if I choose to use a wheelchair or motorized shopping cart; however it will be less than if I hadn’t used them. When we decide to put our need of a lower pain level above our belief that we have to do things like we used to, we WIN.”
The choices you make on a daily basis reflect whether you accept your illness or not. You can fool yourself, but I can see if you really have accepted your illness. If you refuse to make modifications to how you do things, schedule your agenda, and care for your body, you haven’t accepted that your chronic illness is incurable. If you choose to stay home rather than use a wheelchair or rollator, you haven’t accepted your illness. If you insist on keeping the same type of schedule that you did before becoming ill, you have not accepted your disease. If you refuse to make dietary changes, you haven’t accepted that you have an illness that could benefit from those changes.
Acceptance is reflected when someone doesn’t throw a fit every time they have to make modifications or eat differently than they did before. It is evident when they don’t allow the use of a mobility aid to tarnish an outing. Acceptance is visible when the person isn’t constantly running themselves into the ground.
I know, I know, you think that by doing those things you are changing your life and in turn giving into your disease….. But I’ve got news for you, your illness has already changed your life and no amount of fighting it will undo it! In my eBook Make Pain Your Bitch: How to Dominate Your Chronic Life, I explain why making modifications and changes are forms of winning, not losing. I challenge you to examine your life and behavior so that you can make changes that will help you live passionately and purposefully. If you enjoy feeling like crap, hanging out in the emergency room, begging for pain medication, or watching your friends and family move on in life while you remain at home, then keep doing what you are doing. However, if you want to start living and are open to living differently than you did before, click here to download my book NOW!
My experience and advice won’t cure you, but if you follow my advice your life will improve! How do I know? Because I have been there!! I used to think that I was winning by not making changes. I also spent a lot of time in the emergency room and at home alone……….
My life was nothing like it is today. It took years of trying different things and making modifications to get where I am at now…… Was it easy? Hell NO!!! But it was and still is worth all the hard work.
What are you waiting for? Start making chronic pain your bitch today!