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Tag Archives: relationships

Tips to make your Valentine’s day special, despite your chronic illness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine’s day is a time for expressing love to your special someone.  It is not a day to go broke.  If your celebration depletes both your bank account and energy supply, you are defeating the purpose of the day.

Living with one or more chronic illnesses is tricky.  We want and need to do things for others, yet many of the things we do increases our chronic pain or forces us to cancel doing something else for someone else.   Sometimes, that someone else is you!! Sound familiar?

Sometimes, it is what our significant other does to express their love that triggers a flare.  Because of this I want to share a few tips to not only help you show your special someone how much you love them, but to also express some love for yourself and vice versa.  Sit down with your partner or send this article to them, because together you can make this Valentine’s celebration less painful.

Watch your spending

What does money have to do with your chronic illness? A lot when stress and anxiety are flare triggers.  When I spend more than I can really afford on my husband, I begin stressing about how I am going to pay for my pain medication, next doctor visit, or groceries…. When he spends more than we can afford, I am faced with the same fear.  Anxiety and stress replace any joy that was received when the gift was given.  Those feelings never go away.  Even years later, those feelings tarnish the memories made on that special day.

You can still express your love without spending extraordinary amounts of money.  One example is to give each other a coupon book.  Coupons from your able bodied spouse could include a massage, helping with housework without complaining, giving you a quiet afternoon without the kids, etc.  Coupon ideas for the chronically ill to give to their loved one could include an intimate evening of sex (let’s face it, we don’t always feel up for it and coupons could ease the pressure to perform when you physically aren’t able to enjoy it), getting out of the house to enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation, an evening of watching their favorite show/movie, etc…

Respect your body’s boundaries

If you have been chronically ill for a few years, you have an idea of how your body will react to an evening out in mid-February.  If the weather during this time of year triggers or increases your chronic pain, then going out will just exasperate it.  Instead, plan an evening in.  You can still dress up if you desire to and have the energy to do so.

If you and your partner insist on going out, make reservations! Don’t risk a flare coming on too early while waiting for a table.  Choose a restaurant that has comfortable seating.  Find one that has a quiet and romantic ambiance versus one that has TVs and music blaring.

If you typically are tired or worn out on a Thursday evening, plan your celebration for the weekend.  Or plan for another night when the rest of the world won’t be celebrating! There is nothing wrong with your romantic dinner taking place next Sunday or Monday evening!

*Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. Meaning that at no additional cost to you, I receive a commission when you make a purchase through my links. The proceeds earned fund the giveaways I host in my Facebook groups.

PEMF therapy with Oska Pulse has taken my pain managment plan to a whole new level! Click here to see how it has improved my chronic life and click here to learn more about the device and how it may help you too! BTW My discount code DIVA will save you $55.00 when entered at checkout!

Accept what you can do

Maybe you are having a rough year.  My heart goes out to you, because I know exactly how you feel.  There were years when I just couldn’t leave the house or get dressed.  I hated that the best I could do was brush my hair.  Sadly, there were a couple of years when that didn’t even happen.  I know how frustrating it is to want to go out, to do something special, to be anywhere but in bed and in too much pain to enjoy being in bed, and wanting to forget your pain even if just for one night, but…… If that is where you are at this year, embrace it.  I am not saying that you should be thrilled about it, but that you should remember that this is just one day of your life.  Who knows how you will feel next year.  You could be worse or you could experience some improvement.  Look at me, I spiraled downhill for 10 years before I found ways to reduce my chronic pain from fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, degenerative disc disease, coccydynia, and abdominal adhesions from endometriosis and surgical scarring.

Even with my improvements, I still have to respect my body’s boundaries.  My body is not happy with the cold and wet weather we are currently experiencing in southern California.  Last year it was warm and sunny and I was spending time at the beach, Hollywood, Disneyland, and Palm Springs without accruing pain.  This year’s weather is making getting out as often as I would like more difficult.  But I know better days are on the way and because of that I am not worried that I haven’t been able to go out as much this month.

A little message to the partner that doesn’t have a chronic illness

Please understand that your partner wishes that they could go out to dinner, go dancing, and spend the rest of the evening getting busy with you in the bedroom.  Unfortunately, pain gets in their way.  Whether they are amidst a flare or know that they will pay for all activity with an onslaught of physical pain the next day, pain rules their brain.  If they say no to a night out, they aren’t rejecting you.  If they don’t want to have sex that night, it isn’t because they find you unattractive or don’t love you.  They are in pain…..   A little tip, if you really want to increase the odds of having a romantic evening with your partner, clear their schedule for the next day or two.  Seriously, sex is painful, flaring or not! Some of us need time to recover.  If we have to get up and go to work, get the kids ready for school, go grocery shopping, clean the house, go to church, etc. the next morning, then we are more likely to say no.  However, if you were to schedule it for a time when she/he doesn’t have any reason to get out of bed unless they want to the next day, your odds for receiving a thumbs up increases!  This advice doesn’t guarantee a green light, because an unexpected flare could ruin it all, but putting thought into their after sex recovery shows that you thought about more than having sex, you thought about their needs beyond it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Communication is key whether you have chronic pain, a mental illness, or both

*This post contains affiliate links which support the operating costs of this site.

womens health mag may my article

Communication is key whether you have chronic pain, a mental illness, or both

Do you or someone you love live with a mental illness?  You are NOT alone!  Depression, anxiety, OCD, Bipolar, and addiction are just a few of the many mental illnesses that millions of people battle every day.  According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), approximately 1 out of every 5 adults in the United States, that’s 43.8 million people, experience mental illness in a given year.  That is more than the entire population of California alone!!! They also estimate that 1 in 25 adults or 9.8 million experience a serious mental illness in a given year that significantly interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.

 

In the May 2018 issue of Women’s Health Magazine, there is an article about mental health and relationships. If we are not careful mental and chronic illnesses can create unwanted distance between us and our loved ones. The article not only discusses the impact that a mental illness can have on a marriage, but also the parent/child relationship and friendships too.  They show both sides of the story as well as offer helpful tips for both people in the relationship.

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One approach mentioned in the article is to develop code phrases.  I applied this strategy to my own life and relationships several years ago.  At first is was to signal how I was unable to think clearly or function because of physical pain from my chronic illnesses.  Later I also learned to use to express when I was struggling with depression or anxiety.

Whether I am struggling with extreme physical pain, anxiety, or depression I find it difficult to leave the house, get out of bed, hold a conversation, express my feelings, or make major decisions.  I lose control over my emotions and the filter between my brain and mouth malfunctions.  Instead of expressing my thoughts and feelings in a kind or practical manner, I blurt out short and often demanding phrases that are hurtful or just rude in tone.  This would frustrate and hurt my husband, children, family, and friends.

My solution was to create a code phrase.  I use phrases like “nobody’s home” or “can’t process” to express that I am not functioning like I should and am not in the state of mind to be able to make major decisions or answer a bunch of questions. These phrases not hurtful and they fully express my current mental and physical state at that moment.  These phrases are not a pass to get out of dealing with problems or issues. Avoidance will only make matters worse. Instead, they give me time to be able to recover from my episode which allows me to think clearly.  This practice has opened deeper discussions with my loved ones and has improved how we communicate.

Honesty and communication are key when dealing with a chronic or mental illness, no matter what the relationship is.  You can learn more tips and coping strategies in the May issue of Women’s Health Magazine (click here for a digital or print subscription) or visit NAMI for tips and mental health support.

Remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! Do NOT allow the stigma of mental illness keep you from reaching out for help, support, and care.  If you are considering suicide, I beg and urge you to contact a suicide prevention line ASAP! Below are a few suicide prevention hotline and online chat resources.

United States:  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

CALL TOLL FREE

1-800-273-8255

CHAT ONLINE

 

United Kingdom: Samaritans  116 123 (UK) 116 123 (ROI)

 

Canada: Crisis Services Canada

CALL TOLL FREE
1.833.456.4566

Chat online

TEXT WITH US
45645
For residents of Quebec, call 1 866 APPELLE (1 866 277 3553)

 

 

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Reduce chronic pain and inflammation with this drug-free device.  Promo code DIVA will save you $55.  Click here to learn how this device can help you!

 

 

Dominate Your Chronic Life

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I am excited to share my new eBook with you!

Living with a chronic illness is anything but easy.  If we aren’t careful our illnesses will take over more than our bodies, they will dominate every aspect of our lives.  This eBook is for those who are ready to take back their lives, who want to live passionately and purposefully, and who want to enjoy life once again.  In this book I share how psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, endometriosis, and degenerative disc disease pushed me to the point of wanting to end my life and the steps I had to take in order to dominate my life and how you can too!

This book won’t heal you, but it will put you back in the driver’s seat.

Are you ready to make pain your bitch?

Do you want to dominate your life?

Then order your copy today!

It will be released on Dec. 6, 2017 for $7.99 BUT……

You can pre-order your copy today for only $5.00

Click here to pre-order for only $5.00

Do you like helping others live a better life?  Would you like to make some extra money while doing it?  Join my affiliate program!

 

Why I call myself The Disabled Diva

cynthiacovertdisableddiva_coverimageFind out how I became The Disabled Diva, accepted my conditions, and more in this piece I wrote for Healthline.

If anyone would have told me in my 20’s that I’d be writing about living with multiple chronic illnesses in my 40’s I would have laughed. I’ve been experiencing various symptoms since the age of 10, but my flare ups were rare and never long in duration. Soon after my 30th birthday, I started feeling pain in my bones, muscles, and nerves, along with extreme fatigue almost every day. It was like someone had flipped a switch….. Click here to continue reading

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Wishing you a day filled with many reasons to smile,

The Disabled Diva

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Super Mom or a Super Pooped Mom

Are you a Super Mom or a Super Pooped Mom?

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Chronic illnesses make life difficult.  Those of us who suffer from one are always feeling like we are swimming against the stream.   My illnesses are always getting in the way of what I want and need to do.  Instead of doing the dishes my body may demand a nap.  While an occasional nap may not sound bad to the average person, imagine if your body demanded multiple naps most days of the week.  Think about all the time you wouldn’t be spending on work, household chores, playing with your children, prepping meals, etc…  With each nap we fall further behind.  Unfortunately, if we don’t heed our bodies warnings we could find ourselves in the hospital and then nothing would ever get accomplished.   Sometimes we allow our desire to be a super mom turn us into super pooped mom.  Which are you?

 Five signs of a super pooped mom:

 1. She ignores her body’s demand to take a nap or rest

Pushing past my body’s request for rest doesn’t give me more time to accomplish any tasks or goals.  Instead it will punish me with even more down time as it will require more time to recover.

2. She doesn’t ask for help

Not everybody is comfortable asking for assistance.  But what’s more uncomfortable, asking for help or the intense spike in pain and possibly not being able to finish the task by yourself anyways?

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3. She doesn’t plan ahead

Our chronic illnesses can thwart even the best of plans.  The fact that we cannot predict how we will be feeling one day or hour to the next is downright maddening.  However, that is not a reason to not plan as much as we possibly can.  If I don’t have prepped meals in the freezer when a flare hits, my family  has to spend extra money ordering take-out , stand at the pantry and fridge and stare at ingredients until they figure out what to cook, or not eat.

4. She thinks that her chronic illness is only her problem

I don’t expect my husband or children to hide their struggles from me, so it doesn’t make sense for me to hide mine.  One of the biggest mistakes I made early on in my chronic life was to think and live like my illnesses were my problem and my problem only. 

5. She wears herself down by trying to not only keep her family’s life running the way it did before she became ill, but also tries to compensate for it.

During my early chronic years I felt I had to prove my worth as a mother and wife by running my household and caring for my family in the same manner as I did before becoming ill.  Not only that, because of the guilt I felt for all that I missed during a flare, I would attempt to do more for my family in order to somehow make up for it.  This way of thinking and living was and still is dangerous.  The result of trying to live a “normal” life is spending more time in bed with more physical pain than necessary.

Five signs of a Super Mom

1.        She listens to her body

While it can be frustrating when my body demands that I take multiple naps throughout a day, my chances of a better tomorrow is much greater when I follow my body’s lead.  I was fortunate that my youngest loved to nap and even luckier that my body would adhere to her napping schedule on my tougher days.  If your little one isn’t much of a napper or your body refuses to sync to their nap time, have a few friends on standby.  When experiencing a day in which your body is refusing to do anything but sleep, call on them to come hang out with your wee one while you take care of yourself.

 2.       She asks for help

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength.  It shows that you know your limitations.  I don’t get annoyed when my husband or children ask me to help them with a project or task, so why would I assume they would have a problem when I need assistance?  Instead of feeling guilty when requesting that my children do something their selves or in addition to what I normally expect, I remind myself that it will only help them become better adults.  The universe isn’t going to wash their laundry and put it away, nor is it going to cook their dinner.    Of course asking for help goes beyond family.  Asking friends for help is still something I struggle with.  Just like with my family, I have no problem helping them when I can so asking them shouldn’t feel like such a big deal.  In my case I am learning to view myself as less of a burden and more as a person who just needs a hand now and then.

 3.       She plans ahead

Not only do I plan ahead to make sure my family will have something easy to prepare for dinner while I am flaring; I also plan backups for events or outings.  Because I can’t predict how I am going to feel from one day to the next, when making plans for my children or myself I try to always have a back-up plan.  Those back-up plans include, but are not limited to: planning an alternative activity, asking someone if they would be able to drive my kids if I find myself unable to, and having someone informed or trained and ready to take over if I am unable to fulfill a commitment outside of the house.  Instead of agreeing to attend to a table at my church’s craft fair, then waking to discover I won’t be able to and leaving it unattended, I have someone one on standby so show can still go on. Chronic living requires a lot of planning while flying by the seat of your pants.

 4.       She acknowledges that her condition isn’t just her problem

Can you imagine your life not changing if your spouse or children were diagnosed with cancer?  If our spouse loses their job, is it only their problem?  NO! Families are a unit; we are not a group of individuals living separate lives under the same roof.  When families work together, chronic moms are happier and have more quality time to love on those she cherishes.

 5.       She accepts that life is different with a chronic illness

Attempting to live the life I used to have only made my life more difficult.  Once I embraced my new life, I was able to begin finding alternative ways to accomplish tasks or to do things I thought I would have to give up.  Who cares if not everyone understands why I need a wheelchair for most outings?  Who cares if people doubt the severity of my illness because I am happy and smiling when they see me?  Not me!   Accepting your life for what it is at this moment isn’t a form of giving up.  You can still hope and pray for a cure.  But the key is to not stop living while you wait. 

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Freeze meals for your family to prepare when you are not able to

We won’t always succeed at being a super mom and that’s okay. I trip and fall over my cape every day.  Just don’t forget to reach out for help before your super pooped mom status turns you into a villain.

Wishing you a day filled with many reasons to smile and gentle hugs, 

The Disabled Diva

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Taking off the mask and getting by with a little help from my friends

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have always struggled with asking for help.  Because of this, there have been times in my chronic life that I have felt like it was me against the world.  I would like to say that I have improved and have become better at asking for assistance, but that would be a lie.

I still struggle with asking someone for help as well as answering people when they offer to help.  How is it that I can mentally list a million tasks that I need help with, yet when someone asks how they could be of help I feel like a deer caught in headlights?!  Part of me feels like, why me?  I hate feeling like the needy one; I would rather be the one doing instead of receiving.  Or I think, what can I offer them in return for their help? Funny thing is, when I offer assistance or do something for someone else, I never expect anything in return.  Yet, it bothers me to accept help without being able to repay the person for their time.  This is something that I have been working on and hope to improve upon someday in the future.  For now I am just taking baby steps.

For the past week and a half, I have been forced to not only accept help, I also had to ask for help and accept that I won’t be able to “pay” anyone back.  In preparation for the get together we were planning for family and friends to celebrate my daughter’s confirmation, I had to accept that I couldn’t prepare for the day, let alone get through the day, without a lot of help from my friends and family.  Prior to having out of town guests arrive, my daughter and husband both tackled every task I gave them without any complaints.  Before, during, and after the get together my friends and family not only took on the tasks that I forced myself to verbally express, they went beyond and tackled things that they could see that would be a struggle for me or that I had overlooked because of my pain brain.

This was the smoothest gathering that I have ever hosted in my home.  Normally I am worn out prior to the event and then too exhausted to clean up afterwards.  While I haven’t really improved on asking for help, I have improved on expressing my pains and limitations.  I am normally very quiet when it comes to discussing my pain, but not this weekend.  This weekend I made sure to let everyone know that my abdominal pain (from adhesions) was unbearable anytime I bent over.

I have also improved in how I respond when someone says something like, “It’s good to see you feel well enough to be out of bed”.  When this was said to me on Sunday, I simply replied “Nope, not feeling better, in fact I debated with myself over whether I should go to the emergency room instead.”  Or “I hope today won’t cause you too much pain”, I responded with “It will, but I am choosing to do it, fully aware of the price I will pay, because I want to make this day special for my daughter.”

Pictures never show how we physically feel.

Pictures never show how we physically feel.

While my responses might sound harsh, they are real.  I am so tired of putting on my “happy mask” and pretending that I am okay when I am out of the house.  The truth is that I am not okay and I will never be.  The hardest part I have with being honest about my pain is that I never want to be the person who only complains about how she feels or only talks about her health.  But I am finding a balance, and learning that it is okay to talk about how I am physically feeling now and again.

I have also learned that unless people know how I am hurting or what my limitations are at that moment, they are able to see what I need help with.  I am so thankful to the many guests that jumped out of their chairs and began taking on cleanup chores the moment I went to put one dish away.  With their help, my kitchen was clean and the food was put away.  By the end, my kitchen, dining area, and living room were back to normal, you would have never known that there had been a party.

I cried a little before I went to bed that night.  I was overwhelmed by the generosity of friends and family.  I was also relieved that I wouldn’t be spending the next few days or weeks trying to get my house back in order.

If you are like me and automatically reply with a “I’m fine” or “I’m okay” every time someone asks how you are doing, stop it!  It is not easy, nor do you have to explain how you feel to every person who asks, but try giving a dose of the truth now and again.  It is also okay to respond with “No, I am not okay.  Nor do I have the energy to talk about it right now, but would be happy to talk to you about it another time.” Like everything else in life, there needs to be a balance. How can we expect people to know or understand our pain, if we are always wearing our happy mask and saying that we’re okay?  Then again, we don’t want 90% of the words coming out of mouths to be complaints about our bodies.  I am not the only one who needs to take baby steps and ease into finding my balance.  Many of the people, who were used to my “I’m okay” lie, have looked a bit shocked when I actually told the truth.  I can’t blame them, it’s just as shocking for me to hear those words come out of my mouth.

Have you found a balance?  How long did it take you to reach this point?  It took me a whopping 16 years to reach this stage!

Wishing you a day filled with gentle hugs, many reasons to smile, and for you to be surrounded by people who care,

The Disabled Diva

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The Super Power I Really Wish For

The super power I really wish for.

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Admit it; at some point in your life you have wished that you possessed a super power.  Some wished for the power of flight, invisibility, the ability to walk through walls, and more.  As a child my super power wish was for the power of invisibility.  The reason for this was that I wanted to be a detective and thought this particular power would help me solve crimes.  As an adult living with several chronic conditions, I often joke that my super power is living with chronic pain.  However when asked which power I would want, I always replied with the power to fly.

The reason I always chose the power to fly had to do with my physical pain.  Flying would be a great way to get around when my feet, legs, and spine prevent me from walking.  While flying my bones, joints, and muscles would be free from pressure.  While still a desirable power, I realized that there was a power that would be even more beneficial.

I was feeling discouraged the other evening when I realized that I was months behind on several projects.  Cluster flares and/or one flare after another have derailed my deadlines.  Feeling frustrated, I thought about how awesome it would be to be able to stop time.  Like I discussed in Not Enough Time to Manage, pain and fatigue limit my productive hours.  Not only do I have limited productive hours, I lose days and weeks due to flares.  I have accepted that I will never be pain-free, but I still struggle with the thought that I will never be current on projects or even household chores.

Imagine being able to stop time every time a flare hit.  Instead of coming out of a flare and finding myself even farther behind than I was prior, I could be on track.  Procrastination would be the only reason for falling behind.  Procrastination is something that I can control unlike time lost due to flares.

If I could stop time I would no longer feel like I was living in an alternate universe.  I would no longer feel overwhelmed and depressed by how much my friends and family have done with their lives while I was riding out my latest flare.

The downside to my wish of being able to stop time is that nobody would ever see just how awful my conditions really are.  Stopping time would deprive those who give so freely of themselves to help others.  It would also hinder people like me from raising awareness. Because why would we need to raise awareness for something people aren’t able to witness?  The biggest pitfall would be that if I stopped time, there would be no one to help or care for me when I needed it most.

So after careful consideration I have decided to accept my super power of living with chronic pain. It’s not something I would ever have wished for, but I also recognize that not everyone could handle it.  Super heroes in the movies never get to choose their powers, so it would be silly to think that I could choose mine.  Like those super heroes, I too will continue to find ways to use my power for good.

What super powers have you wished for?

Wishing you a day filled with smiles and gentle hugs,

The Disabled Diva

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