Answers Aren’t Always Easy to Find

So today I come home from my second overnight sleep study in three weeks with more questions than answers. To say I am frustrated, confused, and even a bit defeated would all be accurate. This may seem confusing when you read why below, but I promise to make sense of it. It’s important to keep in mind that medicine is rarely simple and especially for those of us with multiple or complex medical conditions it gets increasingly complicated.

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Happy New Year – Are You Ready for 2018?

Hello and Happy New Year!

Now that we’ve managed to get through the craziness of the holidays, we can focus on the new year, new goals, and new tactics to manage your health challenges. Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Are you tired of your health condition(s) taking over your life? Are you feeling as if there’s no hope of improvement of your personal health challenges?

You’re not alone. These feelings are not only common amongst people like us who battle chronic illness on a daily basis, but they are also markedly increased during this time of year. This is for a variety of reasons, some of which include the inability to get out if you live in cold weather climates, which can lead to a feeling of being even more isolated from friends, family, or even people in general.

Fear not, for one of the focuses this year will be to focus on things we can do to mitigate those feelings, and improve our overall physical, and yes even mental health. No, I’m not about to tout the latest wonder drug for a particular illness or condition. What I plan to share over the course of this year are some simple items that you can undertake in order to empower yourself with positive ways in which you can control how you respond to the challenges you may be facing.

Mind you, there is no one single strategy, tool, or even medication that will necessarily cure each and every one of us regardless of our individual health challenge, even if we were miraculously all facing the same exact challenges. We are all individuals, and as such we each receive, interpret, and implement even the same exact tool, technique, or treatment in varying ways with varying degrees of success. As a result I encourage each and every one to not get discouraged if one or more of these suggestions do not seem to work for you.

First it is important to remember that many things, including medication that offers a cure, take time to work. Do you quit a medication the first few days you take it if you don’t immediately feel better? I highly doubt you do, and if you do you will certainly never achieve acceptable results or improvement as you didn’t give it a chance. Try a technique, treatment, or tool and take notes of how you felt after trying it. Document your journey. In this way you can honestly gauge how you feel after giving sufficient time to see if a technique works for you or not.

In addition to sharing tools to aid you in managing your overall health and well-being we hope to be able to meet with professionals in order to share insights into various treatment programs that may exist for those with a particular condition or illness. There are a great many programs that exist that even some professional practitioners in the healthcare field may not even know exist.

We also hope to gather more insights from you, the visitors to the site. Are you aware of a tip, trick, or tool that helped you personally? Reach out to us via the contact us page, and let’s see if it is something we could share with others. Have you attended a particular program or clinic that helped you with your ability to manage life with your chronic illness? Write to us and share it with us so that others can also learn about the availability of such programs.

Above all else, remember that There is Always Hope!

Let’s make 2018 our best year yet by supporting each other, sharing our experiences with each other, and improving how we manage our day-to-day lives while trying to decrease the negative effects on us, our loved ones, our families, and our friends.

Keep Fighting!

Credit: Keep The Plug In The Jug – Facebook

We are all fighters, but even the best and strongest of us can and will have times where we may feel as if we are fighting a battle we simply can’t win, and this can lead to feelings of hopelessness. Feeling like this doesn’t make us weak. It doesn’t mean we want to give up, or that we wish to die, or as some healthcare practitioners may incorrectly decide that we are suicidal. This is furthest from the truth! We aren’t giving up, we are simply having a more challenging day than usual. What these feelings do mean is that we are all human and as such are perfectly entitled to feel this way from time to time.
We must all find what works for us as an individual to get through these types of days while still in one piece physically, mentally, and emotionally and all three aspects can and do affect each other and can create a vicious downward spiral if ignored. Reach out and talk to someone. Write a journal. Listen to music. Go for a walk. Meditate. Scream. Diaphragmatic Breathing.
Find what works for you and do it. Practice it even on good days so that it becomes second nature when things start building up for you. By doing so when you feel a shift towards this type of day you have an arsenal of techniques with which to try to mitigate the effects of fighting chronic illness on a constant basis. Even the strongest of us aren’t immune to, as I call it, “being sick and tired of being sick and tired”.
What do you do to cope? What’s your go-to strategy for coping on a rough day? Please share in the comments below so that maybe someone else who reads this can benefit by learning a new coping strategy. Please take a few seconds to share how you cope, and maybe, with just a bit of caring and compassion by sharing what works for us, we can help even one person avoid feeling hopeless. I found this image on “Keep The Plug In The Jug” Facebook page (you can go there by clicking the photo credit). While their original post was specifically addressing the issue of drug and alcohol abuse, I find it extremely fitting to any of us that battle chronic health issues or even those that care for us such as a spouse or significant other.
I’ve heard the phrase “just take it one day at a time” too many times over the past few decades. However when you don’t think you can get through the next hour, for example, thinking of making it through a whole day when you feel like this can seem insurmountable. I recommend breaking it down even further into the smallest chunk of time that makes it seem manageable for you at the time. It may be making it through your 8 hour work day. It could be just making it to lunchtime. It’s even okay if you break it down to 30, 20 or even 10 minutes. If it works for you I don’t care if you break it down into seconds. Just find what works for you and practice it so when you need the coping mechanisms they are already ingrained in your brain.
I’ll even go first: Besides trying to do some deep breathing exercises or even a mini-meditation of even 3 minutes to clear my head, music has always been my go-to for stress relief. I have several playlists to chose from specifically to pick me up on a rough day. One is even called “Mental Health”. If I combine relaxation techniques with a song or two from this playlist I can often ground myself quickly, reducing stress and pain at the same time.
Your turn to tell us what works for you!  Let’s stick together and help each other!  I look forward to hearing what works for you!

Inspirational #AtoZChallenge

I is for Inspirational

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told how much I inspired someone to be better in their life. This applies to healthcare practitioners, other chronically ill people, and your average person you might see walking down the street. I appreciate the kind words, and it is nice to hear someone say something positive for a change. But to be honest, I just don’t see myself that way.

See I don’t envision myself as being that special. I do what I do because it is who I am. I’ve always been what some call a giver. Years before I even graduated high school, I joined emergency services. Not because of anything other than I wanted to help people, and I loved doing it. I was lucky enough to have a career in pre-hospital emergency medical services for many years before being diagnosed with a chronic and debilitating illness.

After my first (of many) diagnoses I promised myself I would find a way to continue helping people in spite of my illness. I became involved in a local support group for those with the same diagnosis. I began researching everything I could to not only help others but to help myself in the process. From the same early age, I was involved in volunteer emergency services in a variety of roles. All of these roles were rewarding, and I enjoyed each one in their own way. And I consider myself very lucky to have made a difference in more than one life along the way of the last few decades.

Others may see this as me being an inspiration to them. However, all I see is the fact that I have something to give, and in an effort to make sense of my own life and help others along the way, I plan to give just as long as I am capable. My ability to give has been severely hampered by physical restrictions of late, but I still have lots to give. I just don’t see how that makes me special.

I’m just another guy who is too stubborn (or stupid) to quit, lay down and die!

Has anyone ever called you an inspiration? How did it make you feel? What were your thoughts? Please share with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!

E is for Being Excited About Life! #AtoZChallenge

E is for Being Excited About Life!     #AtoZChallenge

So you or someone you care about has a chronic illness. It isn’t the end of life as you know it.

Remember the excitement for life that you had before you got sick? You can have that again! Just because your health has changed, maybe even drastically, does not mean all is lost.

Today, more so than ever before, technological advances have enabled even the most limited in physical activity to remain at the very least mentally active. So if you have the desire, there are lots of things you can do to remain active and yes, even passionate about life!

Without going into specific examples based on your previous level of knowledge and expertise in any given area, there are still a variety of things you could do to occupy your mind and your time. You could use your previous knowledge to educate others. For that matter, you could use your current situation as a catalyst so that, when you are ready, you can share your experience with others. You could decide to pursue further education and new career goals.

Maybe you are not only chronically ill but also suffer from the effects of chronic pain as I do. If you find yourself unable to hold regular employment, all is still not lost. There are still plenty of ways you can continue to feel like you have something to contribute. Even something as simple as becoming a volunteer in a facility or unit that made a difference for you.

While maybe that isn’t as fulfilling in your mind as employment, I can tell you that there is something quite as fulfilling as being able to give back to those that have taken the time to help you when you needed it. Remember when you were at the worst possible point in your health and someone took the time to stop and talk with you? Remember how good it felt that someone actually cared who maybe didn’t need to, in the aspect that they weren’t being paid to do so? You can be there for someone else. Maybe you encounter a patient who could draw inspiration from the fact that you had been where they currently are, and you prevailed.

Become excited about life again!

Have you found a new purpose in your life after health issues? Share your story with us below!