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How Charlie’s Angels Prepared Me to Live with a Chronic Illness

Pictured Charlie's Angels. Title: How charlie's angels prepared me to live with a chronic illness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Charlie’s Angels Prepared Me to Live with a Chronic Illness

I may have been born in the late 60’s, but I am a child of the 70’s!

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 surviving life with not just one, but multiple chronic illnesses!

*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.

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, but 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.  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.  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.

Teamwork works

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 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Clean Your Chronic Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think spring cleaning only involves giving your home a good cleaning?

Think again!

Disinfect Your Diet

Clean up your personal care products

Spruce up your view!

Spring Cleaning doesn’t have to be painful

Sanitize your social circle

Five ways to make your home chronically safe and friendly

Scrub away negative thoughts

Spring Clean your social media feed

Cleanse your calendar!

 

 

What Happens When I Live My Old Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What happens when I live my old life

I received my cluster of diagnoses during the early 2000’s.  During that time not one doctor urged, nudged, or hinted to me that I needed to make changes to how I lived my life.  Not ONE!!!

Instead of issuing warnings or advice to improve the quality of my life, my doctors insisted that they would be able to find the right pill(s) to offset my symptoms and pain.  Of course everything they tried failed.  Click here if you would like to take a peek at the pain management plan that finally helped reduce the pain I experience from fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, degenerative disc disease, coccydynia, and abdominal adhesions from endometriosis and surgical scarring.

Between the false hope my doctors were issuing and the pressure from friends and family to get better, making changes to how I lived never crossed my mind.  But it should have and here is why:

When I live my old life:

  • I ignore the needs of my body/chronic illnesses
  • I injure myself more often
  • I spend more time in bed than actually living my life
  • My family loses precious time with me
  • I spend more time and money seeing doctors and visiting emergency rooms
  • I took no responsibility towards reducing my pain.  I trusted and followed everything my doctors said.

*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.

Why changes had to be made

  • The longer I ignored the needs of my body/illnesses, the sicker I became and more damage was done to my body
  • Refusing to accept the need to use a mobility aid created more opportunities to fall, which I did often.  Each fall resulted with either a broken bone or blood clot.
  • I was killing myself
  • My family needed me
  • I would rather take my family to Disneyland, then to spend money and time in the emergency room over an injury that could have been prevented had I listened to my body, done things differently, or utilized a mobility aid.
  • I had to take responsibility and to accept that my doctor may never be able to help me.

 

Changes that literally changed my chronic life

  • I made friends with my diseases.  I got to know them and my body so well that I after awhile I could feel the beginning stages of a flare coming on.  In the past, I just pushed until I collapsed.
  • Using mobility aids may have been hard to accept on an emotional level, but when I look back and see how little I have fallen since I began using them, I know I made the right decision.
  • By recognizing and addressing signs of a flare or physical distress I am able to avoid complications like my body mimicking a stroke or muscles freezing to the point of feeling rock hard for months on end.
  • Spending the amount of time that I do in caring for my body, doing things differently, accepting what I can’t do, and letting go of unrealistic expectations has gifted me with less time in bed and more out making memories with my family.
  • I took responsibility and charge over my care.  I researched and tried alternative treatments. While I may spend more money on those treatments than any pill that my insurance would cover, I save by not having to visit my doctor for a refill every month and not visiting the emergency room throughout the year. Click here to read about my pain management plan.

All of these changes, plus others that you can read about in my eBook Make Pain Your Bitch: How to Dominate Your Chronic Life, has restored my independence.  Going grocery shopping no longer makes me anxious, because I can finally do it without needing a day or two to recuperate.  I can drive and clean my house again.

Now I am not saying that everyone who reads my book and follows my pain management plan will have the same results.  The changes you need to make may differ, but no matter what, any change that involves listening to and respecting your body/disease is going to improve your life.

Don’t make the mistake I did by waiting 12 years before even accepting that there was no way I could go on living like I used to.

Living our old lives doesn’t make us strong, instead it makes us weaker.

Living our old lives does more than increase our physical pain, it hurts us and our loved ones emotionally too.

Are you still living your old life? 

Whether you are or not, I challenge you to examine your day to day life and pick one area/task that could be done differently, in a way that won’t increase your pain level.  Then make that change.  You don’t have to change every aspect of your life immediately, take your time and make your changes one step at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Telling me that it could be worse won’t make me feel better

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many times have you explained your chronic illness to someone and their response was “It could be worse”?

I would be a millionaire if I had even a penny for every time I was told this.

I don’t believe that the majority of people who say this to us, do it with the intention of hurting.  I truly believe that they think they are offering words of comfort.

However, the reality is that those words, no matter what intention they were said with, cut deep into the heart of someone living with a chronic illness.  And here is why saying “It could be worse” should be avoided:

  • It makes the chronically ill person feel that their illness isn’t as important, painful, or difficult to deal with as a terminal diagnosis.
  • Those words are often misheard and translated into “Stop your whining, you can complain when you have a serious disease”

*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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The truth is that things could always be worse.  Even for someone receiving a terminal diagnosis, things could always be worse.

I am just as guilty as anybody else who has uttered those words. However, after being cut by them for so many years, I have come up with ways to say them without invalidating the severity of what someone is going through. For example: When the words “It could be worse” pass through my lips I follow up with…..

  • , but that doesn’t make what you are going through any less terrifying.  How are you coping?
  • , but that isn’t here nor there…. What do you need from me? How can I help you?

When followed with a validating comment and question, I am less apt to throw up walls or to emotionally shut down.  Instead, I feel safer to open up and have a discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have someone in your life who likes to remind you of how much worse things could be, talk to them.  Share how it makes you feel and offer alternative words for them to communicate with.  It may feel awkward at first, but the more we talk to our friends and family about what they say, the better we all get at communicating with each other.  Just remember, to talk, not yell or attack!  Not everyone will get it.  In that case, just let it go….. because seriously, there is so much more to worry about when you are fighting chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis, degenerative disc disease, and abdominal adhesions.

How do you react to hearing “It could be worse”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

womens health mag may cover

 

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

book cover web.png

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!

 

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