When living with chronic illness, and particularly chronic pain, life needs a level of certainty, of routine.
To a large degree we can create workable daily routines, manage our medications and medical appointments and keep life ticking along so we maintain our equilibrium as much as possible.
I actually love change. Throughout my career I worked as a Change Management Consultant for large organisations and I was in my element in this role.
Change doesn’t phase me. I’m trained to find solutions. I know and believe change is an opportunity, a chance to grow, to develop and learn.
So given this you would think I would cope with my Ostomy appliance being discontinued, or my mobile Podiatrist no longer visiting my suburb, or my Cleaner no longer able to clean my home. Yes it’s all happening at once. That’s life though. Change can all come at once and somehow we need to be equipped to deal with it, on top of managing our daily chronic illness challenges.
I Can’t Believe It!
I have used my ostomy product since my stoma was formed just over 8 years ago. It works perfectly for me. I love it. I’ve never had an issue with it. It is very much my security blanket.
Having a stoma is a positive thing for me. My life before it was not good. My bowel was completely non functioning due to a severe rectal prolapse. My Stoma Story has the full details of this chapter of my chronic illness journey.
Just because I’m happy having a stoma, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. A stoma creates it’s own set of challenges. It takes a while to feel confident in many circumstances and, add in a rare debilitating bone disease, a whole range of life changing compexities are presented.
So the news of “your product has been discontinued”, is a little beyond disconcerting!! To be completely honest, it’s slightly terrifying.
There are many excellent products available by numerous Ostomy Companies. Sounds good doesn’t it, but the array of choices presents it’s own set of issues.
To find the right product I need to sample as many as possible. The process is exhausting, especially when I need to keep my regular routine in place to help manage my pain.
I’ll get there, I’ll work through the process and I will arrive at the point of acceptance of a new product. I’m sure before long, whichever Ostomy appliance I choose, it will become my new security blanket.
As I was contemplating my dilemma, I found myself saying, “Oh well, nothing lasts forever”
Nothing Lasts Forever
Change requires acceptance. The words of this cliche “nothing lasts forever”, actually helped me to begin to focus my thoughts in a more positive way. They began to make me look beyond my current circumstances to a future state.
The one inevitable thing in life is change.
My beautiful Dad passed away a year ago this week. I couldn’t control this situation. It was inevitable it would happen one day. All I can do now is grieve, remember the good times and find a way to live again without him in my life.
It’s a completely new chapter of my life.
The whole cycle of life points to the fact, nothing lasts forever. Yet sometimes it’s the small changes in life which can cause us to crumble and feel as if it’s just all too much.
I think when this happens it’s often because there are larger life changing issues at play. Perhaps we are grappling with financial issues, relationship issues, loss of a loved one, worsening health. The list of worrisome issues, which present the need to make changes in our lives, are often complex and can eat away at us bit by bit……if we don’t address them.
Addressing The Small Change Issues
So how can we deal with the unexpected small changes in our lives?
As with any path to accepting change, it’s always a process. I like to keep the process simple, especially when dealing with complexities.
My approach to any life changing event, always start with making time to stop and think. It’s crucial to be deliberate and focused when dealing with change. So here’s the step by step process I follow. I really hope it helps you find a way to cope with your own change challenges:
- Find a quiet place to sit with a nice cuppa or favourite drink;
- Have a note book or your phone handy to jot down your thoughts;
- Ask yourself why is the relatively “small” change confronting you, making you feel so stressed?;
- What else is happening in your life causing major concern? List these down. It’s important to acknowledge them now, even though our main focus at this stage is on our smallest issues.
- Read carefully through the major concern list you’ve just created;
- Can you do anything to start addressing some of the more “major” change issues soon? Jot down some ideas next to each item. We are trying to calm our minds and feel a sense of peace in this step, by realising we can perhaps do something about our major issues.
- Create an action plan with a timeline, starting with your smaller issues. You may not like plans but the whole idea is they take the uncertainty out of a situation. This reduces your stress levels and helps you to think more clearly about the road ahead;
- While thinking about the changes you’re facing, deliberately include on your action plan, what positives may come as a result of the change. There are always opportunities, even when grieving the loss of a loved one, a relationship breakdown, loss of a job etc. Sometimes we feel we can’t give ourselves permission to be happy about some of the beneficial outcomes a major life change might bring. We can and we should. It helps us move forward;
- As you complete your action plan for the smaller issues you’ve been struggling with, ask yourself are they as bad as you first thought, especially when compared to the life changes on your “major” issues list? Or could it be you are really just overwhelmed by the larger events happening in your life?
I find once I’ve been honest with myself, by following the above process, I realise two things:
- I now know there are underlying issues causing me to feel overwhelmed when little things go haywire. I need to focus my energy on resolving the major issues in my life as soon as possible.
- I realise I need to get on and deal with the smaller issues now and reduce my stress levels. Once they are out of the way, I will have the emotional energy to address the more major stresses in my life.
Resolving The Major Issues
I’m not for one moment going to suggest resolving a major life changing issue is easy.
I do know pushing it constantly to one side is not helpful, and can cause our health issues to worsen. Stress increases pain. One thing we definitely need, when living with chronic disease, is a peaceful life as far as possible.
The process of listing your major life changing events, and jotting down ideas to begin to resolve them, is a great starting point towards managing the change process and relieving some stress.
It puts you in the driver’s seat, and begins to give you a sense of control, particularly in a situation which may be making you feel powerless.
You may need assistance from others to help fully resolve your major issues, but even acknowledging this and identifying who could help, is a huge starting point.
At the end of the day, if little things are feeling like huge change events, it’s likely because more major issues are at play.
Acknowledging this does help us not to “sweat the small stuff” quite as much. Perspective is a wonderful tool to use when managing change.
So I’m going to take my own advice and acknowledge I’m deeply grieving the death of a loved one…my precious Dad.
As a result, the last thing I feel like dealing with is a change to my Ostomy product, finding a new Podiatrist and a new Cleaner.
However in the big scheme of things, it’s not a big deal and I will find the right solution for my needs.
A new chapter of my life is beginning. Life without my Dad and with a new care team. I’m even starting a new online volunteer role with a church we have been following on You Tube.
Change can be exciting when new ventures present.
I’m going to keep reminding myself, “nothing lasts forever”.
Although it’s not strictly true. There are three things that will last for ever according to St Paul. Three incredibly beautiful things to hold on to, no matter how much change bombards our lives…
St Paul says, “Three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love.”1 Corinthians 13:13
I’ll always miss my Dad but I’m so grateful to have had him in my life. He showed me true love and I can’t think of a nicer thought to end on.
Coming Soon….My book “My Medical Musings”, is being published by Imaginewe Publishers. Pre-release sale will be available in May 2022
If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding and 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 and complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.
I’m also a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page
I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women
Australian Aspire Awards 2020 Nominee – Awarded Medal of Recognition for Individual Best Achievement Community Advocacy.
Thank you to Arthritis Queensland for the nomination!