A Full And Fulfilled Chronic Illness Life

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How do you continue to live life to the full when your health limits everything you do?

How do you cope with waiting for a reprieve in symptoms when the reality is, no reprieve is coming?

I’m not going to say there are easy answers to these questions because there definitely are not. It’s hard. It can be overwhelming to wake up day after day only to discover your legs and feet are still broken, your spine unstable, your fatigue is just as bad, if not worse than it was when you fell asleep the night before. A pile of medication is sitting on your bedside table staring at you alongside a glass of water. An immediate reminder all is not well.

Patience and Purpose.

I have found two things really help me live a fulfilled life despite uncertainty, pain and disappointment.

I have discovered a whole new level of patience over the past 9 years which has become the key to me living well with chronic illness.

Patience with my body.  Patience with my medical team. Patience with people who struggle to understand what it’s like living with a chronic disease.

Patience is not something that comes easy to me. I was always referred to as “instant Sam” by family and close friends. I like things to happen quickly. If I have a goal I have always put 100% of my energy into achieving that goal, as fast and as well as I possibly could.

So how did I become so patient? I learned quickly, once my health deteriorated, that if I wanted to be involved in an activity I loved, slow and steady was the only way of doing it. If I rushed I would literally, physically fall in a heap. A lack of patience in the early days quickly taught me that wasn’t a smart way to live a new life.

I also learned that patience brings a wonderful sense of peace. As expectations are re-aligned, pressure is reduced. Giving yourself permission to live at the pace your body allows is amazingly freeing.

However only you can give yourself that permission. It’s nice to have others support but ultimately unless you allow yourself to adjust your life it just won’t happen.

I also believe if you don’t adjust your life, others in your life won’t get the true picture of how much your health is affecting you. As a result of wearing an unrealistic  “wellness mask” you are at risk of falling into a vicious circle of not feeling supported.

I think it’s really important to work out your limits and let others in your support circle know exactly what those limits are. They then have a clear picture of what they need to do to support you live the best life possible with your chronic disease.

Remember though to be patient while they adjust to the changes you are making. It’s all a process and it all takes time to achieve. Keep in mind your change in health is a change for everyone around you.

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Discovering My Purpose

Once you have realigned expectations and discovered you can be patient with your new body, purpose is then so important.

We all need purpose in our life, no matter how large or small.  For some that might be achieving goals like reading an entire book series you’ve always wanted to read. If you are mobile and can get out of the house for a while, perhaps joining a craft group, a choir or volunteering at a local charity might suit you.

Due to my disease and disabilities I am pretty much housebound so I have needed to find purpose at home. Starting my blog 5 years ago was the beginning.

I didn’t just start it without thinking it through. I first completed  an online blogging course through the Australian Writers Centre. It was my initial step to what was going to open a whole new world to me. A world I really had no idea existed and I had no idea how far it would develop.

I was nervous about opening myself up to others. I write about deeply personal things but I felt I needed to tell my story and I hoped it would eventually reach others who were experiencing a similar journey.

I wasn’t interested in how many blog followers I had. I would have been happy to reach one person. I really wanted to just write because I love writing. I had previously (in my 20’s) studied freelance journalism and non fiction writing, so it was a long time love which I suddenly had time to explore.

I also had a deep desire to serve others. I knew I couldn’t volunteer outside of the home but I had been involved with a charitable organisation who had a very small web based support group for women with inflammatory arthritis. I decided to offer my time to help expand the group and transferred it onto Facebook for them. That group has been going for 5 years now with over 1500 members and is an enormous support to those who belong to it.

I sadly had to step down as admin after 12 months as my health deteriorated and I had a period of multiple surgeries and difficult recoveries. I didn’t completely lose my purpose though during that time. I readjusted my expectations again. I kept blogging about my health journey and I remained volunteering with the not for profit organisation, as an administrator for one of their smaller online support groups. It’s a group with 300 members supporting parents who have children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. It’s heart wrenching but so rewarding to facilitate a place for these parents, to connect through their grief and victories.

At the start of 2017, it was clear my disability was not going to improve, in fact it was worsening. I found I had more time on my hands and I felt I needed more purpose. My blog was expanding slowly and I began writing some articles for The Mighty. I was satisfying my writing desire but I wasn’t fully satisfying my desire to serve. I could have returned to my previous online volunteer admin role but there were others able to serve there.

I felt it would be good to try and connect with people who had rare and complex diseases. I had no idea what to do with such a crazy thought, but I had a moment of thinking there is no harm trying to start a closed Facebook group.

So I created Medical Musings With Friends and the rest as they say is history. I can’t believe it turns out  on the 14th January!

A Full And Fulfilled Life 

Thanks to living with patience and purpose, I am living an incredibly full life from my lounge room, my bedroom and my back patio. I connect with people from all over the world and provide a service where others can feel supported, where they can share their stories, their blogs, their articles.

A place where they can make new friends and a place where they are not judged for what they can’t do, but celebrated for what they can do, despite their diseases.

A Few Tips to Help You on Your Journey

If you are starting out on your chronic illness journey or perhaps have been struggling to adapt with the changes it has brought to your life, take a breath and be still for a while.

  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Take time to review how you are trying to live and how you need to be living.
  • Slowly start to make the necessary changes that allow you to live a life where you are patient with your new circumstances.
  • Share your thoughts and the changes you need to make with someone you love and trust.
  • As you remove things from your life that you can no longer do, replace them with things you can do.
  • Find your new purpose, explore it, dream about it and patiently put it in place.

Life with chronic illness and disabilities is not over, even if it may feel like it is at the moment. With time, it is possible to begin living again.

With patience and purpose your new friends, a different, full and fulfilled life can slowly emerge.

Take care

Sam xx 💞

 

If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding & friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum, Medical Musings with Friends . It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic & complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.

I’m a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page

I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women

 

If you would like to read a little more about my journey, here’s the link to My Story

Please click here to read our Privacy Policy

 

WEGO Health Award Nominee 2019- Best in Show Blog

 

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WEGO Health Award 2018 Nominee

13 thoughts on “A Full And Fulfilled Chronic Illness Life

  1. Dear Sam, I always look forward to your blog posts! It’s true, after processing loss and adjusting to what you can do, you need a purpose. I’m happy you’ve found yours! 🙏🏻 Especially one that touches so many others! I too have found mine. It’s a smaller quiet circle. Mine is to love my husband, children, and siblings as if today was the last day I’d be with them. As well, I have started watercolor painting to pass the time. Both of these acts require keen attention, observation and an open heart. So in spite of deteriorating health, I’m happy. Hugs to you. I pray for good days for you! Marla

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Marla, I absolutely love your purpose. It is just perfect. You are a very special lady and your husband and family are truly blessed to have your love and support ❤

      Like

  2. Sam, You share your gifts of well written blogs and writings along with your grace for living the challenges of a disabled body living with purpose. Thank you for sharing your insight with us all. I see a future that is much brighter than before I joined your group Medical Musings With Friends.

    As a decade long volunteer for my disease national support group, I found there was more to do individually and have been branching out slowly, but with purpose. While not a gifted writer, I do have an ability to talk about life with debilitating chronic illness in a way that connects at a very human level.

    And so the journey continues. Thanks for being my inspiration and mentor, even though you didn’t know it.

    Take care,
    Cathy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cathy, thank you so much for sharing your journey with me and for encouraging me in mine. I am so thrilled you have such a rewarding purpose and I wish you every success and blessing with it 2020. Being a patient advocate is just so important and so fulfilling. xx

      Like

  3. I used to be very patient, but these days that has worn rather thin with some things, but really just in the medical world (rude receptionists, GPs that are useless, secretaries that say they’ll call you right back but never do). ‘Instant Sam’, maybe I’m becoming ‘instant Caz’ 😂 With other things I’m still patient, so perhaps it’s a smaller area of things I need to work on.

    Anyway, I love the way you’ve approached this because with the New Year I’ve been thinking I need to review things and look ahead. I need to actually do it this year, not just think about it. Part of that is looking at the different aspects of life and trying to see how to make it a more fulfilling one, given the limitations and circumstances. You’re such an excellent example of someone who tries to live a full and fulfilled life, being a compassionate person, accepting the limitations but focusing on the good and the things you can do. That sense of purpose can become distance when you lose things like your job or ability to do the things you once loved. But as you say, with a little patience and a little work, it’s possible to bring some colour back into your life.

    Fab post, Sam!

    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Caz. Don’t lose sight of the amazing difference you make in people’s lives through your writing and your encouragement of other’s writing. I have no doubt you’ll come up with some excellent fulfilling things to do this year and I can’t wait to see/hear about them. Lot’s of love xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Sam, as ever this rings so true to me, after having to say no to an event yesterday that I paid for a long time ago. This happens too much and I know I am going to have to start planning events so much better xx

    Liked by 1 person

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