5 Ways to Accept Chronic Illness in Your Life

Tips to Manage Arthritis

5 Ways to Accept Chronic Illness in Your Life

Chronic illness is an unwelcome and permanent guest. How you cope depends entirely on your willingness to make room for chronic illness in your life. This might sound unusual or seem impossible, but it is critical to coping and having a fulfilling life alongside your chronic condition.

Here are five ways to help you make room for chronic illness.

1. Allow yourself to grieve.

Grieving is not an easy process and no one just quickly adjusts then never grieves again. Your grief over your chronic illness is always with you and often times, you will find that you will alternate between acceptance and denial and you will continue to relive the process over and over for the rest of your life. Acknowledging that your grief is normal, healthy, and acceptable is the first step in making room in your life for chronic illness. Doing so also allows you more control over your health and your ability to manage your disease.

2. Understand that accepting and adapting takes time.

Acceptance isn’t something that happens overnight. As you make the changes your illness requires, you will find that you become more open to adapting to your new life. Doing so will allow you to become truly aware of your loss. You should take steps to manage your health and think about how your chronic illness will affect you. Further, by expressing anger, worry and even sadness, you are allowing yourself to perceive the situation and the parts of your life that you feel you have lost. You may even question why this has happened to you and wonder where you will go from here. In end, the final result will always be acceptance. Accept that your feelings towards your loss will not be deep forever and that you will learn to adjust to changes and manage your disease. Over time, you learn to establish and live with new routines and with your new found flexibility, change becomes easier. Slowly and surely, you are making room for chronic illness.

3. Don’t lose yourself.

When patients are newly diagnosed, they can feel like the illness takes all their time and energy. That happens because you are trying to work through emotions towards your illness and you are trying to create a relationship with your disease. You feel as if you are tripping and stumbling as you make sense of your new life and sometimes, that can lead to depression. If you find that you are constantly feeling like you are losing yourself, consider talking to a therapist. Talking to a professional can help you to resolve your feelings and anxieties towards your illness without any fear of judgment. Making room for illness doesn’t mean you tough things out or to try to dismiss your emotional state of mind. Instead, by allowing yourself to get the help you need and deserve, you making a positive difference in living with and managing your illness.

4. Be honest with yourself and loved ones about your chronic Illness.

By learning all you can about your illness, you are attempting to figure out your relationship with it. Create a routine where you take time out, whether it is once a week or once a day, to think about what you are experiencing and feeling. You can write things down and or just close your eyes and reflect on whether your feelings are proactive or damaging. You can designate a small area in your home and keep the rest of your home an illness-free zone. You can also use the same place to sit and talk to loved ones about how you are feeling and what you’re experiencing so that they are not in the dark. By taking the time to recognize feelings and emotions, you are another step in the right direction towards incorporating chronic illness in your daily life.

5. Change your Perspective.

You cannot make room for chronic illness in your life if you are not willing to change your perspective about it. You may not control some aspects of illness but you can change your point of view about it. For example, if you are no longer able to play a musical instrument because your hands constantly hurt, find an interest in composing music or attending concerts of your favorite genre. Or share your passion and experience with others by teaching music. Find a way to keep what you are passionate about in your life and don’t let chronic illness take that passion away from you. If you are willing to change how you feel about your chronic illness, you can work with it rather than against it.

Own Up to Feelings and Emotions About Your Illness

Making room for chronic illness in your life can be difficult because of the physical limitations imposed . However, if you are willing to work alongside your illness, rather than against it, you will find yourself stronger and more open to having a better quality of life. Just remember, you will always have control over your feelings and emotions even when you don’t always feel in control of your illness. Owning up to these feelings will allow you to successfully make room for your chronic illness in your life.

Originally Posted at Arthritis Connect.

Parenting with Chronic Illness: One Mother’s Lessons Learned

“We Are Not Alone and We Are Good Parents”

Parenting with Chronic Illness: One Mother's Lessons Learned

Five years ago, shortly after my second son was born, my life was thrown a curve ball. I woke up one morning to all over body pain, unable to walk. My hands were curled into fists. I was caught unprepared. While I had dealt with unexplained symptoms and pain for a number of years prior, I did not have a diagnosis and my symptoms had never been this severe.

In that morning, I went from being a young mother to being chronically ill. My pain and symptoms were so bad I could barely hold my newborn. I needed my mothering instincts to kick in and I could barely take care of myself. If not for my sister, those first months after my diagnosis would have been even harder.

Uncertain about My Parenting

Even though much time has passed, every now and then, I find myself uncertain about my parenting abilities. I wonder if I am coping effectively enough with my RA and fibromyalgia to be the parent my children need and deserve.

I might be chronically ill, but I am still my children’s mother, and parenting often requires that I take attention away from myself and give it to my children who need me more. I am different than healthy parents because I parent with pain and fatigue on a near daily basis.

I am not the only one who suffers from the effects of my chronic illnesses. My sons, like other children with chronically ill parents, have many questions and insecurities about the future. The best I can offer them is my honesty and openness about the impact of chronic illness on all of our lives. I know providing age appropriate answers to children is not an easy task, but it is necessary to put children at ease.

What My Kids Question

My 5-year-old sees my chronic illnesses in the present. He has never known a healthy mother and his questions have more to do with how I am feeling now versus how I will feel tomorrow or in the long term. He understands that sometimes Mommy hurts, or that she is too tired to play with him. What he doesn’t understand is that I am chronically ill and that I will be for the rest of our lives.

My teen, however, understands that permanence. He knows I am chronically ill and that I will be sick for the rest of my life. While he doesn’t necessarily understand the specifics of my illnesses, he has questions about the future and whether things will get worse for me. He worries about schedules and routines and often asks to help out. He needs reassurance that someone will always be there for he and his brother and he wants to believe that will always be me.

I may not have the answers to all their questions, but experience has taught me that my attempts at honesty hold more value than dismissing my sons with an “I don’t know,” or telling them, “Tomorrow will be better,” when I’m not sure that will be true. I’m not sure how I will address their concerns when they are older and if my health worsens. I just know their lives are not easy or normal because I am not healthy.

Lessons Learned

Being chronically ill may have changed me, but it has also changed my children. I know my children are kind and understand empathy more than most children their age. I know they value honesty and openness and are sensitive and caring. And, as they get older, I know they will be better prepared for life’s obstacles as a result of the lessons we have learned as a family, dealing with and managing the effects of chronic illness.

I, too, have learned some valuable lessons. I have learned that removing guilt is best for my children and me. I cannot be the parent they need and deserve if I feel guilty that I am sick. Moreover, I know I cannot fight flare-ups. I just have to allow flare-ups to run their course so I can recover and go back to giving 100 percent to my children.

I know hiding my symptoms from my children only scares them. By sharing what I am feeling, I am allowing them to feel involved and I remove uncertainty. Further, I have found my children are more resilient and more empathetic than I ever imaged they would be.

I have learned to appreciate the days where I feel healthy, strong and on top of my game, and I have learned to make those days count.

Finally and most importantly, I know that being sick does not make me a bad parent. If anything, I try even harder to make my parenting count.

We Are Not Alone and We Are Good Parents

There are millions of parents living with chronic illnesses and trying to balance being sick and raising children. We are not alone and we are good parents. We are responsible for both our own health and for our children’s security. That means we continue to be parents despite chronic illness and we pay particular attention to how our children are affected. Sometimes that means parenting through the pain and fatigue in order to offer them a sense of normalcy, and other times it means leaving the channels of communication open between you and them.

Much has transpired since those first few months after my diagnosis. Since then, I have learned to better manage my disease with medication and good nutrition choices. While I am not asymptomatic, my chronic illnesses have not taken away my ability to be employed or to care for my children. Granted, I have had many moments in the past few years where I questioned my ability to balance my chronic illnesses and my parenting. Nonetheless, knowing that I am raising kind, caring, honest and prepared children allows me to question my parenting less.

Originally posted at Arthritis Connect.

Review of Dr. Susan’s Solutions: The Chronic Fatigue Cure

dr.larkPaperback: 382 pages
Publisher: Womens Wellness Publishing (May 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1939013771
ISBN-13: 978-1939013774

The Chronic Fatigue Cure is the latest book by Susan M. Lark, M.D., bestselling author and one of the most renowned women’s alternative medicine experts.   This is great resource contains an all-natural treatment plan to help you get relief from the symptoms of chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression and other conditions that cause pain and extreme fatigue.

A natural treatment plan can help you manage symptoms without the side effects of medications. Dr. Lark shares information on symptoms, causes, and risk factors as well as information about how stress, diet and other physical factors affect symptoms. Dr. Lark also shares a two-step diet with specific meal plans and recipes that help you to minimize pain, fatigue and depression.

I found the evaluating your lifestyle habits charts extremely helpful to me. In the eating habits charts, there was a complete list of foods that help in decreasing symptoms. It is definitely a good list to help you plan meals and take with you on shopping trip. There is also to list of foods about that increase symptoms and this can really help you to figure out how to minimize and eliminate these foods from your diet. The recipe also includes a helpful shopping list of healthy foods and these are not anything special. They are the things you can pick up at your trip to the grocery store and include fruits, veggies, lean meats, healthy drinks, herbs and more.  I really found this list to be helpful.

I also found the chapter on amino acids, vitamins, minerals & herbs a very helpful resource. Nutritional supplements can definitely play a vital part in treatment and management of conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. There is a great chart in this chapter that shows which specific vitamins help each condition.    And if you would prefer not to take supplements, there is a great list of vitamin rich specific foods towards the end of the chapter.

Dr. Lark also dives into other ways you can manage your condition including relaxation and stress relief meditations to help you to have a positive state of mind and reduce stress in your life.  She also goes into precise exercises and stretches with useful photos and diagrams.

This a great resource for anyone trying to better their health, and not just persons living with chronic illnesses. You can purchase Dr. Susan’s Solutions: The Chronic Fatigue Cure through my fine retailers including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book online retailers.

About the Author

drlarkSusan M. Lark, M.D. is one of the leading authorities in the fields of alternative health and preventative medicine for women. She is the strongest advocate of healthy, safe alternative therapies to restore women’s health for a dynamic and fulfilling life. Her innovative approach to many complex women’s health issues has earned her a stellar reputation among physicians, patients, and consumers alike. Dr. Lark‘s vision and mission are to provide women with the most helpful and up-to-date education and information as well as the most effective therapies and complementary products that will enable them to greatly enhance their personal health and well-being. Dr. Lark graduated from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and served on the clinical faculty of Stanford University Medical School.

Dr. Susan’s Blog

I did not receive compensation for this review. I was provided a free book from in exchange for my review.

Arthritis Diet: Foods That Can Help Fight Inflammation

Try These Pain- Fighting Super Foods

Arthritis Diet: Foods That Can Help Fight Inflammation

Arthritis treatment is aimed at fighting inflammation through the use of anti-inflammatory medications and with good nutrition choices. When it comes to specific foods you should be eating, an anti-inflammatory diet works best for people with arthritis.

Eating these foods can help you to reduce inflammation and minimize arthritis symptoms.

Fatty Fish and Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, are helpful in managing arthritis because they help to reduce the formation of compounds that create inflammation and they also increase the production of good chemicals that limit inflammation. There have been numerous reported cases where arthritis patients who consumed daily omega-3 dietary supplements were able to discontinue high doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, this according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.1

The American Heart Association recommends eating three to four ounces of fish, twice a week, but for people with arthritis, more can help with reducing and preventing inflammation. Some examples of fatty fish that contain high levels of omega-3s include salmon, sardines, anchovies, halibut, tuna, and trout. Fish oil supplements can also offer an advantage to reducing joint pain and swelling for all arthritis patients and disease activity and morning stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Olive Oil

A study out of the Department of Epidemiology, University of Athens Medical School, Greece established that olive oil may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and minimize inflammation and disease activity in patients who already have the disease.2 This is because olive oil contains oleocanthal, which has been known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Extra virgin olive oil is the best source of oleocanthal since it is less refined and it also retains nutrients as a result of its limited processing. You should add two to three tablespoons per day to your salads and other dishes for the best benefit.

Fruits and Veggies

Anti-oxidants are the body’s natural defense system and work to help neutralize free radicals that can damage cells. Fruits and vegetables are loaded in anti-oxidants, and by eating nine or more servings per day, you can help your body to fight inflammation. The best options include colorful foods, such as blackberries, cherries, and strawberries, and greens, including spinach, kale and broccoli.

Nuts

Nuts are included in the Mediterranean diet, which has been known to reduce inflammation within a few weeks’ time. Nuts are loaded with inflammation fighting healthy fats. Most nuts, especially almonds, are rich in fiber, vitamin E, and calcium. Walnuts are heavy in omega-3 fats. Further, all varieties are loaded with antioxidants.

Beans

Beans are loaded with fiber and fiber helps to lower CRP, an indicator that there is inflammation in the body. In addition to being an anti-inflammatory, beans are loaded in antioxidants and are also a great source of protein. Further, they contain folic acid and several minerals including iron and zinc. The recommended amount is two cups per week and the best options are garbanzo, red kidney, pinto and black beans.

Spices and Herbs

Studies have shown that some of the most common spices found on your spice rack are effective in fighting in inflammation. Ginger, turmeric, garlic, cayenne, and onions all have anti-inflammatory properties and they can easily be added to your diet.

Should You Avoid Nightshades?

Nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant, contain solanine, a chemical blamed for causing inflammation and arthritis pain. While there is no scientific evidence to back this up, many arthritis sufferers have reported a decrease of arthritis symptoms once nightshades have been removed from their diets. If you notice that your arthritis flares up after eating nightshades, you can confirm this by cutting all nightshades from your diet for at least two weeks. If you see an improvement in symptoms, you are sensitive to nightshades and avoiding nightshades might help you to reduce pain and other arthritis symptoms.

Conclusion

You can help fight inflammation by staying away from foods that are often associated with inflammation such as processed and fried foods and nightshades, if necessary. If you eat more of the good stuff, such as fish, veggies, fruits, beans, nuts and spices, you can help to decrease the activity of the cox-2 enzyme, which is the main culprit of inflammation. A healthier diet will also help you to lose weight and because fat cells produce cytokines – more stuff that promotes inflammation – losing weight will also help to reduce inflammation in your body.

1 Kremer, JM. (2000, Jan.) “n−3 Fatty acid supplements in rheumatoid arthritis.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved fromhttp://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/71/1/349s.full

2 Linos A, Kaklamanis E, Kontomerkos A, et al. (1999, Dec.) “Dietary factors in relation to rheumatoid arthritis: a role for olive oil and cooked vegetables?” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved fromhttp://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/70/6/1077.long

Originally posted at Arthritis Connect.