Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Life Lessons Part 2

Victory is won not in miles, but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more. Louis L’Amour

There are secrets to living a happy life with chronic illness. They may differ depending on the person and the illness, but the essential parts remain the same. I want to explore some of these secrets that I have learned, the hard way, through my years of living with, and thriving despite having chronic illness:


Prepare and implement a self-care plan!

  • You've read this before, but you never get around to doing it, right? Well that stops now. Even if you are in the middle of a flare, take a piece of paper and start listing the things you need help with. List everything you can think of from cooking, cleaning and laundry to grocery shopping, childcare and doctor's appointments. List errands like returning the books to the library or picking up toothpaste at the pharmacy.
  • Once you have identified where you need help, start to identify who can help. Get creative again! We don't all have family nearby who can or will help, so think outside the box - neighbors, church members, other parents, co-workers, teenagers and good old delivery services all count. I'll bet you can think of many more.
  • Now start looking at both lists and making matches. I use a grocery delivery service called Peapod to get the bulk of my grocery shopping done. I have found a local pharmacy in each town I have lived that delivers. Sometimes they cost more, but a lot of times they are competitive with the big chains, and they deliver when I need my medicine and can't get out. I know my church has a ride program for those needing to get to doctor's appointments, as well as Mass on Sunday. If your church doesn't provide this, call up and ask about it, someone may be willing to step forward.
  • The hardest part of all of this is admitting you need help. Once you get over that fact and ask, you'll find there are lots of people out there who are willing. The thing I hear over and over again from friends and loved ones of those of us with chronic illness is 'I feel so helpless, I don' know what to do!' Let them know how to help and they will be grateful to have something concrete to do.
  • You might not find someone to meet EVERY need, but if you can get help on several of the biggies, that's a huge accomplishment - celebrate it! You may not need help all the time, maybe only when you are flaring, but be honest with yourself and others about what you need, and what they can do, to avoid hard feelings and misunderstandings.
  • This post addresses your physical needs, but we still need to talk about your emotional and spiritual ones, we'll touch on that in the next post - the 3rd "secret". . .


Renee said...

I am going to copy this quite on victory for my own blog and for myself. I tend to want to move forward in leaps and bounds...does not work so well for us, does it.

One Mom said...

This is great advice for everyone, not just the chronically ill. As a caregiver I take full responsibility for my husband's needs but I confess, apart from a list of meds and contacts posted inside a kitchen cabinet, there's not much to go on if I am incapacitated.

While denial can sometimes be an effective tool in dealing with a chronic disease - my personal favorite - sooner or later everyone must formulate a plan. Sometimes later is too late. In our family I've been to "go to" person when someone needs assistance...don't know who would pick up the slack if suddenly I were unable to fill that role.

Tiglizzyclone said...

Sound advice. Thanks for taking the time to post life lessons.

Maureen Hayes said...

Thank you all for your comments. I think we all need to take time to prepare for the fact that we do need help at times, to accept that help gratefully, but also to prepare so we don't end up without a support system in place when we need it.

I appreciate each of you taking the time to comment and add your own thoughts to the discussion. I hope you will continue to follow along as I post more secrets and will continue to add your own take on each of them.

Thank you for participating in the conversation and for adding to it with your own opinions and life experiences.