Monday, 29 July 2013

30 Day Chronic Illness Challenge: The End is Nigh!

Day 28: Name five things you have achieved despite your illness.

1. Holding down a job

I'm on short term temporary assignments at the moment, but touch wood chronic illness has not led to my being unable to work. It's something I am not prepared to part ways with unless absolutely necessary, as having a job for me is an incredibly strong link to "normality" as it were. It isn't always easy, my sickness record is far from perfect but luckily I've worked in some very understanding companies thus far. Long may it continue.

2. Making it to important occasions

I've had three weddings this year with a fourth coming up. The law of probability would suggest I was bound to have a flare up for one of them, but this has not been the case. I sincerely hope this hasn't jinxed the fourth one in just under three weeks time! I've certainly been worse for wear after all of them and needed a lot of rest, but it has been such a lifter to me to get there for each one.

3. Remaining active

I might not be as vigorously active as I was and the exercise certainly has changed in method, but I've been really pleased that I've been able to keep some of the momentum going. Pilates really helps against the deep seated aching and morning stiffness, and I am incredibly grumpy on days when I have to give in and accept that it wouldn't be a good idea to make the attempt. Mostly I try to do at least a part of the workout every day, except for the one week a month when dysmennorhea makes it impossible.

4. Writing the blog

Blogging in such a focused way wasn't something I'd ever tried before and I had my doubts as to how long I'd be able to keep up momentum and find interesting content to write about. Thus far though it's been a far more natural process than I expected - I've never really had to force it or struggle for content - and I've thoroughly enjoyed both the writing and the discussion it provokes.

5. Grim determination

There are days, and I'm sure we all have them, where I just want to go back to bed and give up because it all feels too damned difficult. I've never actually let myself yet. I'm not sure where all this willpower has come from (I suspect it was always there and just needed a bit of a focus) but I'm certainly not complaining.

Day 29: What has helped you cope with the stress of the situation?

I'm blessed with a really strong support network around me and their presence actually tends to lead to me asking for help less. That sounds odd, but the knowledge the help is there should you need it is a great comfort in itself. Mostly though, it's an unwillingness to give in and be overwhelmed purely because of the flare up I know is waiting around the corner of that particular road. Stress, worry and anxiety are not kind of conditions like Fibromyalgia.

That isn't to say I never lose my temper any more and that I never worry about anything or get upset - of course I do - I just try to keep a very firm hand on it. I've learnt over time to be quite in tune with what I need to do to alleviate stress and I make quite a conscious effort to switch off and do some of those things until I feel better.

Usually it's escaping for a while with a book - now that was a surprise to you all wasn't it?

Another big aid for me is the involvement I have with the wider chronic illness community. Having people with the same experiences to talk to and bounce off is both a comfort and a pleasure.

(My idea of heaven - image from

Day 30: Finally, starting at your toes and working up, name each part of your body and how your illness has affected it, followed by something you like about that part of your body.

Am I allowed to just get away with "Everything hurts and is a bit broken but all will be well?"

Generally speaking, all of me hurts and gets stiff and unhappy. My knees, hips and shoulders get particularly grumpy. However, I do like my body a lot more than I ever did before. I spent too much time as a teenager (like many of us) caring about what I looked like, or possibly more what other people thought of what I looked like. Now I'm just appreciative of all the things my body can do despite the fact my immune system is attacking it. I really appreciate its strength and flexibility, and as an aside with all this exercise I'm in the best shape I think I've ever been in. I'm not sure why becoming ill was such a trigger for losing the superficial worries but I'm grateful for it.

That's it folks! Challenge over. What did you think of it? I'm considering writing a new one for next year to try and iron out these repeats, and I'd love some feedback or suggestions for alternative questions - the more the merrier!

Wishing you all many spoons.

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