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:
SECRET # 2
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". . .