Helping women with chronic illnesses

Category — Chronic Pain & Chronic Illness

Mountain Climbing Time!

When I speak of mountain climbing here, I am not referring to the literal climbing of mountains. (Though I must say that it may feel literal to those living with chronic illness!) Instead, “mountain climbing” (as used here in a figurative sense) refers to the various obstacles, challenges, and difficulties that face people living with chronic illness/pain. Following up on what I wrote recently here, this can be an especially challenging time of year for people living with chronic illness(es) and chronic pain.

Ask any person living with chronic illness(es) whether they sometimes feel like they are “climbing a mountain” and I think the odds are good that you’ll get an affirmative response. After all, there are days when simply getting out of bed in the morning feels like climbing a mountain. For others (who are bed-bound due to their illness), getting out of bed each day isn’t even an option at all. So “mountain climbing” (both the mental gymnastics required and the physical concerns that must be dealt with) seems like a good way to sum things up for many chronically ill patients I have gotten to know.

While I know that some people who read this blog don’t celebrate holidays at this time of year, I know that many other readers do. So, I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the special challenges that this time of year can sometimes hold for those living with chronic illness.

For some, this time of year involves extra activities or changes in routine such as buying/making gifts, baking, sending greeting cards, traveling, operating on less sleep than usual/needed, and attending gatherings where people may be wearing fragrances that trigger symptoms (i.e. for migraine or multiple chemical sensitivity patients).

So, how can a patient best deal with the extra stress that can crop up at this time of year? Well, that obviously depends upon the person. However, there are some general ideas that I have discussed with fellow patients over the years that may be helpful to some. There is nothing particularly profound here. These are just a few general suggestions that some might find helpful as they work to strike the balance necessary to participate in various festivities/traditions without compromising their health in the process. These may also get people thinking of other ideas for reducing stress (at holiday time and beyond).


(Image by Cool Text)

  • Gifts: Consider cutting back where feasible. When traditions (such as gift giving customs) have become outdated, consider making new traditions that are less taxing on you and on your pocketbook. You may discover that the person you’ve been exchanging with is just as interested in cutting back as you are! If you’re making gifts, try not to get caught up in perfectionism or spending far more time on things than is good for your health.

  • Baking: For many, holiday baking is steeped in family traditions. If this is the case and you don’t feel you can eliminate anything, consider cutting back. Perhaps bake one batch of cookies instead of two? If you are getting sicker in the process of preparing food, you’ll also more than likely deal with “paybacks” afterwards. Weighing the predicted paybacks against the idea of cutting back on what you bake may be helpful.

  • Greeting cards: For many, this is an important part of the season that’s not to be missed. Sometimes, greeting card lists grow and grow over the years to large proportions. While it may feel strange to leave anyone out, taking a look at the greeting card list to make sure that it is still appropriate for the current year can reduce the amount of time spent writing cards and can reduce the amount of money spent on postage and the cards themselves. Also, you are not a Scrooge or a Grinch if you conclude that you can’t afford to send cards at all. Being chronically ill is expensive.

  • Traveling: This can be a major challenge for many people living with chronic illness and pain. Obviously the first consideration needs to be whether travel is feasible at all. If a patient decides travel is feasible (however challenging it’s expected to be), try taking whatever measures possible to make it a comfortable trip of a reasonable length and try to make whatever plans suit your needs for making it go as smoothly as possible.

  • Sleep: Obviously, operating on less sleep than needed (or usual) is not optimal. The reality is that some degree of sleep deprivation may be unavoidable at a time of year where travel and/or visitors may throw off schedules. It may be difficult to do much about this but any efforts made to get as much sleep as possible can only help.

  • Fragrances: For many patients (especially those who experience migraines or multiple chemical sensitivity), attending gatherings where people may be wearing fragrances that trigger symptoms is a major problem. While it may be difficult, try to educate people about how such fragrances affect you. If may be awkward to discuss this (i.e. people can get very defensive about their fragrances) but the payoff will be well worth it if it means someone avoids wearing fragrance to such a gathering where you will be present.

    If you are exposed to a fragrance, it makes sense to consider the option of leaving early (as unfortunate as that may be if it happens). Multiple chemical sensitivity patients often avoid entertaining in their homes to prevent fragrances from entering their homes (i.e. their “sacred zones”). For most MCS patients, home is the only place that’s a safe zone.

    I’ve never climbed a mountain in the literal sense. In years past when I was healthier, I did a bit of hiking but certainly nothing that would qualify as mountain climbing. In the figurative sense, though, I’ve been “mountain climbing” every day since I was 13 years old. “Mountain climbing” is tiring. It can be frustrating. It can leave you sore. However, with some planning and organization “mountain climbing” can be easier than it would be otherwise. Don’t forget to rest when you can and ask for help when you need it. Overdoing can cause very undesirable results.

    Just as the spectacular view from a mountain’s summit can be a great reward for the effort expended to get there, so too can it be very rewarding to be able to attend a gathering or maybe even travel to a destination to spend time with loved ones and friends. With some planning (and luck!), holiday-related stress can be reduced and out-of-the-ordinary experiences can work out quite well.

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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  • December 14, 2011   2 Comments

    Bouncing Back: Five Tips To An Easier Recovery

    Bouncing back can be difficult. This post is about recovering after activity that is unusual (i.e. in type or amount) and which triggers and/or worsens symptoms – including pain and fatigue.

    Looking to bounce back as smoothly as possible?

    Following up on this, I’m talking here about dealing with the fallout that can occur for a person living with chronic illness who has:

  • Over-exerted

  • Taken unusual risks (i.e. done more due to holiday-related events/activities) – resulting in an escalation of symptoms

  • Found oneself in situations resulting in feeling hurt/misunderstood by those who don’t “get it”

    Basically, I’m talking about recovering from being more active than usual and/or from being exposed to circumstances that may cause significant stress (such as interacting with people who don’t “get it”). Holiday gatherings may involve foods that trigger symptoms and it may be difficult to avoid them entirely. There are many factors that can set a patient up for exacerbation of symptoms after the holiday or special event has passed.

    Any chronic pain patient can tell you about the “crash” that inevitably occurs after the unusual activities. Typically, only those living in the same household as the patient get to witness these “crashes”. It is very common for friends and loved ones who see a patient functioning at his/her peak to be oblivious to the fact that there will almost certainly be paybacks later. (In other words, just because I joined you for an all-day gathering doesn’t mean I won’t be bedridden tomorrow as a result)!

    OK. Let’s face it. If you’re reading this chronic illness post, you may never be quite this bouncy!

    This post is about bouncing back from challenging events such as holidays. For people living with chronic illness and chronic pain, events that are taken for granted by others can be absolutely challenging and exhausting. It’s that time of year when there may be more triggers than usual.

    For a person living with migraines or multiple chemical sensitivity, fragrance worn by others can serve as a trigger for symptoms. For those living with infertility, the holidays can bring gatherings with young children or babies; this can be very difficult. For a person living with interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia, or endometriosis it can be painful to sit in the car (or plane) for extended periods of time. The list goes on.

    Many chronic conditions can result in extra exhausting times around the holidays due to physical and/or emotional stress and a multitude of potential triggers.

    Let me state the obvious here – because sometimes it just helps to hear the simple tips that we already know. (There is some overlap between the following categories).

  • REST: The importance of sufficient rest cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, some of the same factors that can lead to the need for extra rest (travel, more time than usual involved in challenging activities, stress) can make it difficult to sleep (being away from home, having extra pain from overdoing things that makes it hard to get to sleep ot stay asleep). It isn’t always easy but doing whatever you can to get enough rest is key.

    Catnap, anyone?

  • COPING MECHANISMS: These can vary widely from person to person. For some people, coping mechanisms may actually assist in the process of getting to sleep or staying asleep (to get the rest already mentioned). Coping mechanisms can range from taking more frequent breaks during activities to talking with a friend or loved one who “gets it” to one of my personal favorites… listening to music.

    Tori Amos’ music is often one of my first choices.

  • LIGHTENING THE LOAD: When attempting to bounce back after having been extra active, it can be helpful to cut back to the absolute minimum amount of activities for awhile. Rather than trying to “get back to normal” (whatever that is!) , it can be helpful to do less than usual while recovering from a period of increased activity. The body gets a chance to “catch up”.

    Try not to get loaded down with more than your body can handle.

  • DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF: Many people I know of (who live with chronic illnesses and chronic pain) go through periods where they “beat themselves up” about what they can’t do in general (or what they couldn’t do when faced with activities that are not within their capabilities at this time). Self-induced guilt trips only complicate matters. If you find yourself focusing on what you can no longer do, try to shift your thoughts to what you can do. Rather than focus on the losses, try to focus your limited energy on appreciating the things that you can do.

  • HUMOR: Never underestimate the power of humor. Whoever said “laughter is the best medicine” was right. When I am feeling drained, depleted, and exhausted, one thing that can sometimes perk me up is watching a really good comedy or listening to my husband crack jokes (which sometimes include gallows humor).

    Humor has helped get me through some very TRYING times!

    It is easy to feel exhausted, drained and frazzled any day of the year when chronic illness is in the picture. To add the extra stress and commotion that the holidays can bring on top of it can really be overwhelming. Trying to pace yourself and to have realistic expectations of what you can and can’t do (and in what time frame) can be very helpful. If you have done more than your body would have liked, it’s worth it to take the time out to replenish your energy. Trying to run on empty only takes a person so far. Eventually, the body will make its displeasure abundantly clear!

    I realize there really isn’t anything that novel/unique in this post. Much of what is listed above falls into the category of common sense. However, it has been my experience that a great many patients take comfort in knowing they are not alone in these struggles and find it reassuring to give themselves “permission” to rest and recover after overdoing. Sometimes it’s easier to give oneself such “permission” when the obvious is stated. Sometimes it just makes it easier to give oneself that time to bounce back after periods of extra activity or travel or very busy schedules. It is OK to take the time to get rejuvenated… whatever methods work for you!

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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  • November 30, 2011   3 Comments

    Holiday Suggestions For People Who Are Living With Chronic Illness

    Today, I thought I would write about holiday suggestions for people living with chronic illness. Obviously what is helpful for one patient may not be for another. After all, each person is unique. However, I tried to include some themes I have seen arise for me personally and for many of my fellow chronically ill patients.

  • Set reasonable goals. Don’t fret over the things you can’t do. Enjoy the ones you can.

  • Build in appropriate rest periods. Pace yourself. Try to avoid taking on too much.

  • Be honest with friends and loved ones about what you can and can’t do. Set boundaries that will protect yourself.

  • Learn to say no. Avoid the trap of getting “guilted into” doing more than you are able to do (or should do) – given your health status. As all chronic illness patients know too well, pushing too hard nearly always comes with a steep price (i.e. the “crash” afterwards that only immediate family tends to witness).

  • If you struggle with infertility, don’t feel guilty if you need to skip gatherings with babies and children. It may be too painful for you now and that’s OK.

  • If you have multiple chemical sensitivity and/or migraines and have tried your best to educate others about it, don’t feel guilty if you need to leave an event early due to an MCS exposure or migraine trigger. It’s your body!

  • Exercise self-care. Get as much rest as possible. Avoid known triggers for your illnesses when at all possible. Be honest with those around you if you develop a flare-up that requires you to rest and/or withdraw from an activity. Let them know that it’s not that you don’t want to spend time with them but that you cannot afford to jeopardize your health by ongoing exposures to triggers.

  • If someone doesn’t understand (or listen) when you try to explain a change of plans or the need for rest, accept the fact that you tried your best to communicate the situation to them. Ultimately, you can’t control what others will think.

    While we all try our best to be thankful throughout the year, this time of year brings added “pressure” (for lack of a better word) to express gratitude. Don’t get me wrong. Gratitude is a wonderful thing. The trick for many chronic illness patients, in my estimation, is that it can sometimes be difficult to focus on gratitude when pain and suffering are so significant that they make it challenging to focus on it.

    I will try to avoid including platitudes that may be less-than-helpful… or tips on how to tap into your gratitude. Anyone reading this more than likely has a good idea of how to tap into that. My hope is that anyone who happens to be reading this (regardless of which country you reside in or whether or not this is a holiday week for you) might come away from this post feeling a bit more confident about setting appropriate boundaries, knowing when to say no (i.e. not accepting jobs/activities/duties that are likely to be detrimental to one’s health), and knowing when to rest.

    Also, I believe that no matter how serious one’s health problems are and no matter how stressful the situation may be… there is virtually always something to be grateful for. If you are struggling to identify something, start with the most basic things. Every day on which we each wake up and start with a new slate is a gift. No matter how much pain and suffering one is experiencing, odds are, statistically, that if you’re reading this post you are relatively unlikely to be homeless or suffering from hunger at this time.

    Does that mean there aren’t any people reading this who are really suffering in those ways (struggling to meet their needs… not just wants)? No, not at all. I know that quite a few of my readers experience plenty of suffering (of all sorts… including serious concerns about having safe housing and enough food to eat) – as many of them have shared their situations with me “off the blog”. After all… overwhelming medical bills can lead to debt, to difficulty paying for basic needs (such as food), and it can even affect the ability to find affordable housing. So, I don’t mean to gloss over these issues – because I know for a fact, from talking with many of my readers “off the blog”, that these challenges can be alarmingly close to becoming reality (if not already so) for many.

    Having nearly lost our house a few years ago (following crushing medical bills for my care), I remember the fear and anxiety that we felt while struggling to save it. Quite literally, I cannot put into words the degree of stress and anxiety that resulted. So, I most definitely do not wish to minimize the emotional pain involved or to dismiss what anyone else is experiencing.

    My thoughts and best wishes go out to everyone at this time. Most especially, my thoughts are with those who are homeless. When the temperatures dip as they have already this year, I can’t help but think about those who don’t have shelter or enough food to eat. This Thanksgiving, I will be sending out positive thoughts and energy to those in need.

    Finally, I would also like to thank my online friends for the support, information, validation, insightfulness, courage, and humor you display every single day. It is awe-inspiring!

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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  • November 24, 2011   4 Comments

    Collision: When Judgment Meets Chronic Illness And Pain

    If you’re like me, you have read before about the topic of judgment in the context of chronic illness and chronic pain. Perhaps you’ve read about people who were unfairly judged in the workplace. Or maybe you’ve read about people being unfairly judged by their very own family members and loved ones. I personally can’t think of anyone who appreciates being judged by others in this way.

    The emotions that may spring up in conjunction with being judged can compound the challenges faced by patients since it can add emotional pain to the physical pain the person already experiences. Sadly, it is not unusual for chronically ill patients to find themselves in such situations. In fact, I daresay anyone who has lived with chronic illness and pain for any length of time can relate. Feeling misunderstood by people in the workplace (assuming the patient is even able to continue in the workplace) and feeling misunderstood by loved ones are all-too-common (and often maddening) experiences for a great number of people living with chronic illness. No one wishes to be misunderstood.

    Today, though, I’d like to focus on a different type of judgment (than that of workplace people or loved ones judging the patient). It’s a type of judgment that I have experienced firsthand. Many patients I know have experienced it as well. It’s another form of judgment that can wound deeply and leave emotional scars as remnants.

    Judgment from people we thought were “safe”:

  • What happens when judgment comes from unexpected sources?

  • What happens when judgment comes from people we trusted and/or thought “got it”?

  • What happens when we are judged by fellow patients?

    While this isn’t the most pleasant subject, I decided to write about it today because I’ve seen it play out in the lives of many people who live with chronic illness. Yet I don’t recall ever seeing it written about. Not in books, not in magazines, and not in blog posts… I’m sure someone out there has written about this topic. I myself just haven’t come across any writing pieces that focus specifically on judgment of chronic illness patients by chronic illness patients.

    What happens when judgmental, critical remarks are made by fellow patients? This scenario can induce a different type of pain.

    When patients feel judged by other patients (based both on what I have experienced firsthand and what I’ve seen with chronically ill friends of mine) the sense of betrayal can have an especially potent sting. Most chronically ill people that I know are especially caught off guard by judgment/criticism aimed at them by fellow patients. Each patient is unique. What works for one patient may not work at all for another. No patient is in a position to judge another’s choices or treatment plan.

    Judgment can mean many things depending on context. I may have chosen the gavel photo above as a visual but I’m obviously not writing about judgment in a legal context here. The “criticism or censure” mentioned in this definition of judgment is the best for for what I am talking about. The phrase “sit in judgment” listed there (under part b for “to assume the position of critic”) is what I am referring to. Essentially, the notion of criticism is key to what I would like to discuss. I’ve seen fellow patients become downright bossy regarding what they see as the proper course of treatment for me. (Never mind that it’s my body and that I don’t like it when people talk to me as if I don’t know how to advocate for myself). What patient likes to feel like she’s expected to obey a fellow patient regarding treatment options for her own body? Certainly not me!

    How many of you have ever experienced any of the following (from a fellow patient)?:

  • Criticism of your treatment options or implication that you had made poor choices?

  • Questioning how sick you “really” are and/or that person incessantly trying to “top you” (as if it were a competition to prove who is the sickest)?

  • Implication (or outright statement!) that you should disregard the medical advice from your own physician/s (and instead follow that person’s idea of how to treat your medical condition/s?)

    Personally, I think when one person feels “bossed around” in this way by another, it can be poison to the relationship. Unfortunately, it is not all that uncommon for people living with chronic illness to judge and/or criticize one another (whether overtly or in a more subtle fashion). Clearly this can be hurtful for the patient who feels he/she has been judged by someone who had previously been viewed as a “safe” person in whom to confide. Helpful ideas/suggestions are one thing. Unsolicited advice is another (especially when there seems to be an expectation that the person being “judged” really “should” take the advice).

    Some examples of categories of people who may engage (however unintentionally) in “judging” fellow patients:

  • Misdirected passion: From what I have observed, sometimes a person is extremely passionate about a particular treatment protocol or “healing path” (for lack of a better term). There is nothing wrong with being passionate! Sometimes, however, this passion can lead to them making comments that leave the other patient feeling judged/criticized. The trick lies, I believe, in not letting a passionate viewpoint (which may come from a very well-meaning place) get articulated in a manner that leaves the other patient feeling condescended to, viewed as not having done his/her homework, or feeling that the person judging him/her sees him/her as naive.

  • One-upmanship: Patients who engage in one-upmanship can be irritating. After all, when one is feeling sick and/or in pain and is sharing this with a fellow patient, the last thing they generally wish to hear is the person’s immediate launch into their own (longer, more serious-sounding) list of symptoms. I am not talking about two friends commiserating with each other here. Patients commiserating/sharing stories of similar symptoms can provide mutual support and make each person feel less alone! With one-upmanship, however, the balance is off. I’m referring to people who, quite literally, seem compelled to “top” the other person anytime that person talks about his/her symptoms. It’s not a competition but people in this category seem to think that it is.

  • Advising others to disregard medical advice: As virtually any person living with chronic illness is well-aware, doctors are not perfect. They make mistakes like any other human beings. Sadly, there are some doctors who are corrupt, misinformed, arrogant, and/or ill-equipped to diagnose and treat the illness(es) at hand. However, no patient is in a position to give advice to other patients along the lines of “ignore what your doctor says”. It’s one thing to diplomatically raise concerns for the well-being of a fellow patient. It’s quite another to leave that person feeling like you’re telling him/her to disregard what their doctor has advised. (This brings up liability issues as well). The notion of strong-arming an online acquaintance into ditching advice from his/her physician/s when the person suggesting doing so has never even met the patient in question (and when the person making the suggestion is not a health care professional) is risky. Suggesting a person explore options (such as getting a second opinion) is one thing. (That can be a very helpful suggestion). Telling someone (in so many words) “your doctor is incompetent” is another.

    Here’s the million dollar question… What do you do when a fellow patient appears to be sitting in judgment of you? What do you do when comments (be they subtle or blunt) are made that make you feel uncomfortable? I have had numerous conversations with people who live with chronic illness who have experienced these scenarios. I have found myself in the position of having been judged. What I’m wondering is how many of you have experienced this and how did you handle it? I would love to hear your feedback. Please take a moment to leave a blog comment. I think this is an important topic that affects many people. How can patients living with chronic illness/pain avoid falling into the trap of judging fellow patients? How can patients who feel judged articulate how it makes them feel when other patients judge them (perhaps without even knowingly engaging in judging anyone)?

    How can we encourage compassionate support between fellow patients and speak up for ourselves when we are uncomfortable with comments we perceive as judgmental and hurtful (if indeed we determine that it is worth speaking up in a given situation?)

    Your feedback on this topic is much appreciated. I believe it is crucial for patients to support each other (whatever personal choices they may make for their own bodies and lives) and avoid passing judgment on each other. Sometimes, there can be a fine line between diplomatically worded suggestions and judgmental/critical remarks that hurt fellow patients. What are some ideas for how to word suggestions so that they are not mistaken as/perceived as “orders”? If one has concerns about another patient’s well-being, what are the best ways to convey that concern without coming across as bossy or condescending?

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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  • November 7, 2011   11 Comments

    Taking A Break: Not Always A Piece Of Cake!

    Taking a break. It sounds easy, right? It sounds like something to look forward to, doesn’t it? Sometimes it is just that. However, I would hazard a guess that many people who live with chronic illness and chronic pain have times where they find it extremely difficult to take a break. Taking a break isn’t always a piece of cake.

    Generally speaking, I tend to operate on “the edge” most of the time. What do I mean by “the edge”? Well, I have a tendency to push myself… hard. Sometimes I push myself too hard. This can result in sleep deprivation, loss of perspective on what the healthy limits are (for me with my chronically ill body), and burnout. So, when something unexpected comes up or added stressors enter the picture it can be very difficult for me to deal with everything at once.

    The trick for me is in knowing how and when to pull back from activities that must wait (such as writing this blog and replying to messages) during times when I just don’t have enough energy to do everything I want to do. Taking a break from my blog is quite stressful for me. It causes me to become disconnected from the wonderful, supportive online community of people living with chronic illness. It results in me getting behind on replying to emails and Facebook messages from other patients. It also makes me get behind moderating and replying to blog comments. Getting backlogged on all of the above is stressful for me. I don’t like the idea that anyone might think I’m ignoring them. Taking a “break” only to return to a backlog of messages stresses me out.

    Here is the thing, though. There are times when taking a break is absolutely needed and warranted. The “break” may not necessarily be to rest. It may be to focus on other activities that need attention. It may not be a “break” in the traditional sense at all. It may simply be a temporary change in routine. A change of focus. The type of break I’m talking about is more the kind where one is not necessarily resting (not that those type of breaks aren’t important too!); it is the type of break where one chooses (or is forced to accept) that one set of activities must be put on hold for a certain period of time. There either aren’t enough hours in the day or there isn’t enough energy in the person to do everything on his/her plate.

    How about you?

    What does it take to make you take a break? Do your loved ones need to remind you to take a break? Do you recognize it yourself and take swift action? Does it vary… sometimes you take swift action to get things “into balance” but other times you push yourself too hard and life ends up forcing you to accept your limits? Do you find it difficult to balance everything on your plate? How do you restore balance when things get out of kilter?

    I would really love to hear everyone’s ideas on this. Please take a moment to leave a blog comment. You don’t need to have a blog to leave a comment. To leave a blog comment, all you need is your name (screen name is fine) and email address (which no one will see but me). This (finding balance/knowing when to “take a break”) is a topic that affects everyone but it really impacts people living with chronic illness. I would love to hear from people regarding how they cope with finding a balance, prioritizing tasks, managing time, and preventing burnout. Your comments are appreciated.

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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    October 14, 2011   8 Comments

    Who Knew One Abscessed Tooth Could Cause So Much Grief?

    As I mentioned previously, I have an abscessed tooth that needs to be extracted. A root canal was attempted on this tooth awhile back but due to the unusual nature of the tooth, it was not possible to do a successful root canal on it. (The instruments were bending and it simply wasn’t possible to go any further). Two endodontists later, I have been referred to an oral surgeon to have it extracted.

    The green number 29 above refers to the tooth number affected. The green arrows and number 2 below indicate that this tooth has two roots despite the fact that it is not a molar. (It should only have one root). The yellow arrow points to the tooth behind that one. It is marked with a crown symbol because it has a crown on it. The red arrow points to the abscessed area beneath tooth number 29. The blue arrow points at the tooth in front of tooth number 29. Last but not least, the purple arrow above all three teeth indicates where a bridge will go (over the three teeth). I’ve been told that it may take months for the area to heal sufficiently following the extraction before the bridge can be installed. (The crown will come off and the bridge will sit where it is now).

    Having had two previous extractions where anesthesia failed (and I felt everything!), I have been very nervous about having another extraction. On top of that, out of the four colonoscopies I’ve had, for two of them the IV sedation failed and I felt everything. (For the other two colonoscopies, the pain wasn’t as bad but I never got sleepy – the way the hospital staff kept telling me I would/should).

    To make a long story short, my dentist sent a letter to the oral surgeon explaining why he believed general anesthesia would be appropriate in my case. Thankfully, the oral surgeon “gets it”. Since he is the chief of the oral surgery department and since his office suite is located right in the hospital building, it will not be necessary to use an operating room. (He has everything he needs right in his office and he can administer the anesthesia). This will cost far less money than having general anesthesia in the operating room. It will be done as an outpatient. The figures I was given by phone were far higher than reality. He apologized when he learned of the figures his staff had given me and told me that I had been “misinformed”. What a relief that it is far less money than I was told initially and that he’ll be using a general anesthesia medication.

    In the meantime, I recently had a migraine for 8 consecutive days. I don’t think the abscessed tooth helped matters any. (My primary care physician was telling me last week about how my dental issues could affect the migraine pain).

    Now that my migraine is gone, my blood pressure has stabilized. It had gotten quite high during the migraine. My primary care physician instructed me how to tweak the dose of my blood pressure medication (something I need to do based on where I am at in my cycle). Right now, I’m on the usual dose. I don’t want to double the dose unless I really need to. Plus, altering the dose may affect my Reynaud’s.

    In any event… between the migraine for over a week, the abscessed tooth, the appointment that got squeezed in because my PCP wanted to talk (in person) about the blood pressure spiking up and down, and other medical appointments, I have been feeling drained and overwhelmed. I will be happy to get this extraction behind me (scheduled for early October).

    To say that I am behind on replying to emails, blog comments, and Facebook messages would be an understatement. I can count on one hand the number of blog comments I have submitted in the past month or so. I appreciate everyone’s patience. What I’ve described in this post is really just the tip of the iceberg, I’m afraid. I really dislike getting backlogged on messages. While I know that other people who have chronic illness(es) understand, it still overwhelms me when things get as backed up as they are now. Thank you all for your understanding.

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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    September 24, 2011   6 Comments

    When Your Ouch Lands You On The Couch…

    Sometimes with chronic illness and chronic pain, we have to rest whether we like it or not. While it’s frustrating not to be able to do the things we’d like to do, it’s important to listen to our bodies and heed the warnings. So, while I have so many ideas spilling out of my head I don’t know what to do with them, I need to rest right now.

    That means I need to stay offline until things stabilize. Besides, with all of the calls I need to make to health “insurance” and dental “insurance” companies, there’s not much time left to be online. (For those of you who aren’t connected with my Facebook account, I had a failed root canal for which I’ve seen two endodontists). The tooth cannot be saved.

    It needs to be extracted. I have a history of incidents where anesthesia failed (including two previous tooth extractions). So, a simple extraction is becoming quite complex and the cost involved is frightening. I’m not sure how long I’ll need to curtail my “online time”. Right now, I’m waiting for a migraine to clear and it has caused my blood pressure to spike. I will be back online as soon as I can. Thank you for your patience.

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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    September 13, 2011   5 Comments

    World Suicide Prevention Day: September 10, 2011

    Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. As regular readers of my blog are aware, I have written about the topic of suicide on numerous occasions. I believe it’s extremely important to get people talking openly about this important topic.

    Let me explain why I initially began writing about suicide. I closely monitor the traffic that reaches my blog. Awhile back, I felt compelled to write about suicide because of the frequency with which people were reaching my blog after using search strings such as endometriosis and suicide. That is just one example of a search string that got my attention and made me feel it would be advisable to write about suicide prevention.

    Subsequently, I took a safeTALK suicide alertness class. I referenced it previously in this post.

    Below are some links to previous posts I have written on this topic:

    According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

    “Research has shown that 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death, most often unrecognized or untreated depression”.

    Recently, I read about a study that found one in 10 suicides to be linked to chronic illness.

    That article led me to a study by Demos. The authors of the study (Louise Bazalgette, William Bradley, and Jenny Ousbey) investigated “the truth about suicide and serious physical illness” and found “that at least 10 per cent of the suicides that take place in the UK are by people who are chronically or terminally ill”. They also found that there is a “wide variation in how verdicts of suicide are recorded by coroners and made available to the public and policymakers”.

    From Demos:

    “Despite some progress made in our cultural attitudes to death, suicide remains very much a taboo subject. This discomfort has serious consequences, as it may be preventing proper analysis of the root causes of suicide. While some of the risk factors for suicide – such as gender and mental illness – are well-known, there is a vast hinterland of research waiting to be done on other potential factors. Physical illness [emphasis mine] is one such factor…”

    To read the entire study, click here to read The Truth About Suicide (by Louise Bazalgette, William Bradley, and Jenny Ousbey).

    Needless to say this study got my attention. Having spent a fair amount of time reading through materials about suicide, this study was the very first one that I have encountered that looked specifically at the link between chronic illness and suicide.

    From the Guardian article that led me to the Demos study:

    “A Department of Health spokesman said its mental health strategy recognised ‘that physical illness increases the risk of mental health problems and vice versa’. We are consulting with bereaved families and experts in general practice, local government, and other organisations on a new strategy to prevent suicides.

    The consultation calls upon healthcare professionals to be alert to mental health issues, especially depression, in the patients that they see for known physical health problems, and to take the right steps to help people with long-term conditions have a better quality of life”.

    It is great that such research is being done and I think it was long overdue. More is definitely needed. It is also apparent that the potential overlap between mental and physical illnesses in the same patients isn’t being overlooked by these individuals. It’s important for people to understand that many patients cope with both physical and mental health conditions.

    Another study, conducted by Temple University, looked at whether suicide might be under-reported for political reasons:

    Without a doubt, the stigma associated with suicide and the reluctance some people have to discuss it are barriers to preventing suicide. It is imperative for those who are at risk to be identified and referred to suicide first aid resources.

    Moving on to what another blogger is saying to get the conversation started about suicide, I’d like to refer readers to another post for suicide prevention week.

    Trigger warning: Since many of my readers struggle with or have experienced infertility and/or pregnancy loss, I just wanted to take a moment now to make clear that Shaping Youth is a ‘forum about media and marketing’s influence on kids’. If you’re more comfortable skipping past this section, please be sure to see the resources listed at the end of this post.

    Amy Jussel
    Founder, Executive Director of Shaping Youth

    Some of you may be familiar with Amy’s 2009 post Diagnosis Endometriosis: What to Know As Preteens Grow. As I mentioned earlier, my blog receives many visitors who search on phrases such as “endometriosis and suicide”.

    Yesterday, Amy shared my 2010 About Suicide Prevention post within her information-packed post Talk To Me: Because Media Matters For Youth Outreach. I am very pleased that Amy is shining a spotlight on the topic of suicide and I encourage my readers to check out Amy’s post. I think it is important to “start the conversation”, as the campaign Amy referred to suggests.

    The more open people are about discussing suicide, the more likely the people who need help locating appropriate resources are to discuss their situations. Most people who have thoughts of suicide DO send out “invitations” that ask for help. Again, let’s start the conversation.

    Regardless of the factors that contribute to a person having thoughts of suicide, it’s crucial to for people having suicidal thoughts to get connected with suicide first aid resources.

    If you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide please call a hotline (resources are listed below).

    Suicide first aid resources:

    In the United States, please call call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

    Outside the United States, please see this website for the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) . It will direct you to the hotline nearest you:

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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    September 10, 2011   1 Comment

    Perception Deception

    Looks can be deceiving. As any person living with chronic illness(es) knows, one can look perfectly healthy and simultaneously be anything but that. A healthy appearance on the outside can be illusory.

    People’s perceptions of those living with chronic pain and/or chronic illness(es) can be very detached from the daily reality. The sick person may be open, guarded, or somewhere in between about their medical condition(s) for a variety of personal reasons. For example, a person’s decision to disguise how sick he/she is can be necessary for career preservation in many professions – for those who are able to stay in the workforce at all. Many employers can and do discriminate against people based on their medical conditions. (They may blatantly disregard anti-discrimination laws designed to prevent this from happening).

    Some patients may elect not to disclose information for fear of being lectured by well-meaning people who may have suggestions for the patient to “cure” his/her (incurable) illnesses. Seldom do those around the patient know of options the patient hasn’t already investigated or tried. Their intentions may be good but the patient may be tired of hearing about false cures and may seek to avoid hearing about them again. Some “treatment options” may be scams designed to exploit patients and make money off of them. Nearly every person I have ever met who lives with chronic illness(es) and/or chronic pain has invested large amounts of time and energy (not to mention money) searching for the best way to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.

    One may hear about or witness a chronically ill person’s activities on a “better day” – without witnessing things in context – and get a misconception. (“Better day” can be, in itself, a misleading term when discussing people who have chronic conditions). If one does not witness the – sometimes very elaborate – planning that went into that person being able to function beyond his/her “normal state” or if the “crash”/recovery stage that follows the atypical activity isn’t witnessed firsthand, it’s far too easy for the outside observer to draw conclusions like, “she must be feeling better” (with the operative word better, in this case, sounding an awful lot like “all better”… as opposed to “somewhat improved for current symptoms”).

    As any person living with chronic pain and/or chronic illness(es) can attest to, looks can be deceiving in the aspect that people only see/hear what is presented to them and what they are open to hearing or understanding. Things are seldom black and white. They are often not as obvious as they appear at first glance. The picket fence above is black against a white background, right? Or is it a white fence against a black background? What one sees at first glance may not be as definitive as it first seemed.

    This has been an incredibly busy, unusually active summer for me. The trip alone (written about in three posts you can access via this link) was a massive undertaking. I am still working at recovering from the trip and we got back from it over 6 weeks ago. I still have exacerbated symptoms and fatigue related to the trip. As I’ve written before, I was happy to have the opportunity to travel and to have found a means for traveling overnight that worked for this trip at this time. I am fully aware that I could try the same exact trip some other time and it could be a disaster. I know from living with chronic illness/pain for 29 years now that there were many things that could have gone wrong on this trip that didn’t. In other words, we were fortunate. I also know that a huge factor that enabled us to pull off the trip was that we had lots of built-in flexibility. My husband was fully aware that I might not be able to tolerate any number of potential chemical exposures. It was very important to me to know that early exit was always an option if it became necessary. We knew the risks, planned as carefully as possible to try to avoid risks, and then we rolled the dice.

    As grateful as I am that things worked out for the most part (the arguments with my husband over the aspects of the trip that didn’t always work out were not my idea of fun… nor his), I fully recognize that things could have been much more problematic. For example, had the campsite neighbors who were burning who-knows-what (see previous trip posts for details) continued to do so, we would have had to pack up and go home. While I was able to tolerate camping for this summer’s trip (in a way in which I am no longer safely able to stay in a hotel, motel, or Bed and Breakfast)… that doesn’t in any way guarantee that future camping trips are automatically safe. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

    The lack of visible signs that a person is ill can be deceptive. There are many medical conditions, including ones that cause debilitating symptoms, that do not cause the person to look sick. There are medical conditions that are categorized as legally disabling that do not result in any visible signs. This does not make them any less debilitating or disabling.

    Living with invisible illnesses (also known as hidden illnesses) is physically (and sometimes emotionally) challenging. For me, having to educate people about about misconceptions (i.e. finding the best way to let those around me know that one relatively successful camping trip does not translate to “any challenges I had regarding traveling are now gone”) is difficult. It’s important for friends and loved ones to understand that the same barriers and challenges that were present before still exist (and that just because I managed to “get through” the scheduled time of five days for the trip this summer doesn’t mean that it wasn’t very challenging).

    I thought I’d close with the following article link that I found while searching for information on invisible illness and hidden illness. The article talks about a former United States President but I don’t make the reference to veer into politics in any way. I am including the article because I think it demonstrates the fact that even someone who was widely regarded at the time as healthy was secretly dealing with chronic pain. While I like to think times have changed for the better since then in the aspect that people are more open discussing health conditions, I am also abundantly aware that for an elected office (such as the Presidency) it is still taboo to discuss serious health problems with the public. I’m not convinced that it would be any easier today for the chronic conditions mentioned in the article to be disclosed by someone serving in such a position.

    Finally, here is a quote from the article that I think many people living with chronic pain will relate to…

    “Life is unfair. Some people are sick and others are well.”
    ~~ President John F. Kennedy

    That about sums it up. I’m sending healing thoughts out to you all.

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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    August 29, 2011   19 Comments

    Chronic Travel: Planning And Implementation

    I have written previously about a camping trip we recently took (see here and here). While I had concerns for how my body would handle such a trip (particularly how I would fare regarding fibromyalgia pain), I decided to go and hoped that my body would tolerate a trip of this nature and length. Since my interstitial cystitis can make it challenging to ride in a car for long stretches, I was sure to do a bladder instillation shortly before we left the house. This was very helpful in reducing the number of times we need to stop to find a rest room.

    Planning phase: more complex with chronic illness…

    While we chose camping over a hotel/motel (or a Bed & Breakfast) due to previous severely negative experiences with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) reactions, I was certainly aware that camping could present its own MCS challenges. Camping is most definitely not for all MCS patients. However, I felt that I was in a position to give it a try with the hope that I would not have any nasty reactions. We knew going in that I might have to bail out if anything were to make this necessary.

    Yes, there was a bailout plan.

    We decided we were willing to take the risks involved with this trip. Granted, this was a bit scary for me and I had to have faith that my husband would assist me in bailing out if that were to become necessary. Obviously, I would not have been happy if we had to cut our trip short due to my illnesses but it was important to know that bailing out would be an option. Had we done so, we would only have been out a couple of nights worth of campground fees (which wasn’t very much). We wouldn’t have been out the sort of money involved in cutting a hotel stay short. So, the stress of changing our plans and the fact that we would have lost the time we invested would have been the major losses if I had found myself unable to complete what we’d planned.

    By the way, did I mention that we discovered on the first day that we had to turn roaming off on our cell phones because we were so close to Canada? Yes, it could have gotten very expensive if we had not turned off the roaming. It was very cool to put the canoe in (not far from our tent) and reach Canadian waters in no time, though. We also enjoyed our visit to the 1000 Islands Skydeck (mentioned in a previous post and located in Canada). We hadn’t been to Canada in quite awhile so this was the first time we needed to show enhanced drivers licenses (a less expensive alternative to passports). Having grown up never having to show anything to get into Canada or back into the United States, it felt odd having to produce enhanced drivers licenses and have them scanned. It was the most thorough border crossing I’ve ever experienced.

    We purchased the tent about 4-5 months in advance so that we could air it out before the trip. It can be difficult to predict what I might react to and we needed to be sure we had ventilated it well enough before traveling so that I wouldn’t have an MCS reaction to it. Thankfully, the tent had no smell (that I could notice, anyway) when we first opened the box.

    The tent, van, and canoe.

    This was a pleasant surprise compared to what I was expecting. The tent worked very well throughout the trip. We were very careful getting in and out of the tent (trying not to let any bugs inside). Would you believe that we didn’t have a single bug in the tent in the 5 days we used it? It was well ventilated with plenty of windows. I was very pleased with it.

    In addition to all of the normal things one does to plan for a trip, we had to evaluate whether the transportation we had could safely handle such a trip. My van (pictured above) was in and out of the auto shop a couple of times right before the trip.

    Something that worried me pre-trip…

    The pesky light above kept appearing on my dashboard. Needless to say, we needed to get to the bottom of why this light kept appearing since we didn’t want to be stranded somewhere far away from home with a broken-down car. Taking my husband’s car for the trip was out of the question for several reasons. For one, his car is too small and we wouldn’t have had enough space for what we were taking with us. For another, his car has slightly more miles than mine does (which is saying a lot considering the mileage on my van).

    My odometer…

    Finally, the seats in his car are far less comfortable than the ones in mine. So, from a fibromyalgia standpoint, taking his car for a trip like that was out of the question. Having been reassured by our trusted mechanic that the cause for the engine light was not something that was a safety issue (and was a repair he even said could wait to be fixed), we decided that the van was safe to drive. As I touched on previously, my husband was the primary packer. He organized our belongings well and got them to fit nicely inside of the van. We had reserved our campsite online.

    Rest room access is always a top priority with my illnesses.

    It goes without saying that the first criteria I had for choosing a campsite was proximity to the rest rooms. Our site ended up being about 500 feet from them. This distance to the rest room was workable for me… even if I accidentally wandered slightly off track on the way back to the tent in the middle of the night. (Note to self: don’t forget to wear your glasses when traipsing through the campground to the rest room in the middle of the night with it very dark). We were very fortunate in that we had no one next to us on one side for the entire time and we only had people next to us the first night on the other side.

    This can’t be explained simply by the fact that we camped Monday through Friday (though I’m sure bypassing the weekend helped) because there were many, many areas of the state park that were packed like sardines. I am very grateful that we had no neighbors on either side for nearly the entire trip and that we were near a rest room. We could even see the lake from our campsite!

    The last thing I wanted was to be crammed alongside lots of other campers in close proximity. We got lucky!

    Before the trip was over, I had not-so-lovely visits from both endometriosis and migraine pain. Having lived with endometriosis since I was 13 years old, I have become accustomed to it acting up anytime I travel. So I wasn’t surprised. (It’s not something I can plan around either. That’s not how my body is wired). As for the migraine pain, I was thankful that it was short-lived. Neither “took over” the trip.

    What was the biggest challenge/risk that surfaced during the trip? That would have to be when one of our neighbors burned something very nasty in the campground (seemingly from the row of campsites right behind ours). This campfire most definitely did not contain just wood burning in it (and I’m fully aware that some MCS patients wouldn’t be able to tolerate any campfire at all). To me, it smelled like burning plastic. That’s right. Burning. Plastic. The smell was so strong that I couldn’t imagine how it would dissipate anytime soon. We were just heading out for the day when this happened. I was afraid to leave our tent in that air but knew that taking the tent down would mean that we were going home. (There is no way my husband would go through the hassle of taking the tent down unless we were leaving).

    Why people burn toxic items, I have no idea!

    At this point, my husband (who isn’t always fond of what he tends to consider “making a scene” in regard to me having an MCS reaction)… made me incredibly proud. He stopped in at the registration desk and told them about the problem with someone burning far more than firewood. It was so incredibly hot that day that I stayed in the van with the air conditioning running when he went in. So, I don’t know precisely what he said or how he said it. All I know is that I was scared to return to our tent because if whatever was generating that smell didn’t get terminated very quickly, I knew we’d have to pack up and go home halfway through our trip. When we returned to our campsite later, there was NO smell. None. The park rangers must have taken very swift action because there wasn’t a trace of the smell when we got back. I was so happy that my husband spoke up and that the park’s staff was so responsive. Go New York State park rangers!

    Also, I was pleasantly stunned to discover that the state park uses no toxic “air fresheners” in the campground rest rooms! (See this link for more information about Anne C. Steinemann, Ph.D., who has done research on “air fresheners” and other toxic products). I even had a brief chat with a manager up at the registration desk and it turns out they clean their lodges with green cleaning products. I didn’t enter any lodges and don’t know what products they use – but I was pleased to see them making an effort to select healthier products and to avoid unnecessarily exposing people to toxic chemicals. I was impressed!

    This new store was a really good find:

    One brutally hot (100+ Fahrenheit) day, we had gone into one of the towns (Clayton, NY) in the 1000 islands to eat and I spotted an adorable shop across the road from where we had parked. I was incredibly hot and I suggested we check out this shop not only because it looked cute but because I knew it would be air conditioned. (At that point, I was too impatient for cool air to even wait for the van’s air conditioning to kick in). So, we went and checked out the shop. It was like an oasis! Walking into the shop, we were immediately greeted by a very welcome wall of cold air. Inside, there were many beautiful items of clothing, hats, etc.

    I found a warm hat for winter there…

    Every winter, I’m always searching around the house for a good hat. With my short hair, my ears get cold. This shop had a snuggly, warm hat that will be great this winter. I know, I know… Who buys a winter hat on a 100+ degree day, right? Well, it was so nice and cool in the store that I wasn’t deterred from planning ahead for winter. We had a very nice chat with the store owner. As it turns out, the store is quite new. So new, in fact, that the website for it is not yet active.

    However, I am linking to it anyway. I figure that way once the site is up and running anyone who reads this and goes on to travel in the 1000 islands may consider looking paca up. The name of the shop refers to the alpaca fibers that are used to make many of the items in the shop (including my hat). For those who may never travel to the 1000 islands, once that site is up and running it will give people a chance to shop online.

    “In recent years, interest in alpaca fiber clothing has surged, perhaps partly because alpaca ranching has a reasonably low impact on the environment”.

    Unfortunately, the crisp, clean bag it was packaged in got crunched in the car (thus no photos of that).

    The owner of the shop was extremely friendly. She wrapped my purchase up in pretty turquoise tissue paper (sealed with the paca logo) and placed it in a white bag. She was the kind of person with whom you could just have a good, long chat. I’m not normally very chatty when I am shopping. So, it’s a bit unusual for me to be quite so chatty in anyplace that sells things. (Generally, I like to be in and out to dodge sales pitches and such). This shopkeeper, though, was totally non-pushy and let us browse around without making us feel pressured, rushed, or hovered over in any way.

    Everything in the store was truly pretty and I felt like I was leaving the store with a special memento of our trip… in part because she took the time to wrap the package up and make it look so pretty. The whole shop was just gorgeous. I look forward to this shop going online because there were some very nice, reasonably priced items that would make nice gifts. Since I don’t step foot in malls due to my MCS, it’s always nice to discover new online shops. This shop really stood out and had some gorgeous merchandise. I told the owner when we were there that I might mention her shop online. Above is her business card. After discussing it with the owner, I decided not to display the phone number listed on her card (since she is still in the process of getting the shop set up… and unsure she wants that to be the number displayed on the Internet for her shop). So, I blocked out the phone number but the rest of the information you need to find her shop is there.

    Finally… dessert. Are you a fudge fan?

    Quite possibly the best, freshest fudge I have ever had was here: Lil’ River Fudge Co. If you’re ever in the area, I cannot over-emphasize how delicious this fudge was. They had locations in both Alexandria Bay, NY and Clayton, NY.

    Well, I think it’s time for me to wrap up this 3 part series on traveling while chronically ill. Obviously, what works for one patient may not work for another. Let me try to wrap all of the loose ends up with a bow, so to speak.

    Wrapping up…

    The trip presented its challenges and not-so-relaxing moments. (That’s code for my husband and I found ourselves arguing a few times and that wasn’t fun). The way I look at it, the stakes were high for this trip. We invested money, time, and effort into making this trip happen. I risked increased pain and MCS reactions by trying such travel. When the stakes are high (and when pain levels are higher than they would be at home… in my case) and the temperatures outdoors are high, tempers will often flare. Was the trip perfect? No. Would I do a trip like it again? Yes. Will I be doing so anytime soon? No. It will be some time before we recover financially from this adventure and it will be some time for my body to recover as well.

    All in all, though, I’m glad we took some chances and tried something we hadn’t done before. Now we know that, with some planning and effort, it IS possible for me to travel despite not being able to stay in hotels, motels, and/or Bed & Breakfast establishments. That knowledge is freeing for me. Now, all I have to do is recover from the trip. Thanks to a decent air mattress, the fibromyalgia pain wasn’t too out of control while we were camping. It was worse than at home (especially with the stairs at the castle and the walking around we did in town). However, I’ve had worse.

    Finally… my 5 tips for traveling when one is chronically ill:

  • Know your limitations. Try to find ways to creatively work within those limitations.

  • If possible, have someone traveling with you to assist you with tasks you can’t (and/or shouldn’t) do.

  • Be flexible. Be open to adjusting your plans as needed. Weather, unexpected factors, and illness flare-ups can throw plans off.

  • Listen to your body and respond accordingly. Tweak plans if needed. The risk of burnout is not worth it. Rest as needed.

  • Enjoy what you can and focus on it and what you can do. Try not to get fixated on what you can’t do.

    I am acutely aware that some of my readers are housebound and that these last 3 posts on travel are not helpful in the aspect that one who is housebound can’t take the sort of chances I did with this trip. My hope is that maybe seeing the pictures (especially from the post about the castle) might still be worth a read for those unable to travel. Obviously different people are at different levels as far as what they are able to do and I don’t mean to suggest in any of these posts that anyone should take unsafe risks. The risks I took with this trip were ones I felt comfortable taking but I know that there are people who wouldn’t be able to take the same risks. Everyone is in a unique living situation. What works for one person may not work at all for another. Hopefully, these posts may provide some helpful tips, ideas, and even hope for those who are able to do limited travel. For those who are not in that position, my hope is that by sharing photos from my trip (along with a narrative on what it was like to prepare and carry out this travel) that you might get some enjoyment out of learning a bit about an area you may never have visited. For those of you who stuck with me through all 3 posts about my camping trip (from the bird’s “gift” to the lovely shop we discovered), thank you for your patience.

    We packed a great deal into a week and I really haven’t even scratched the surface but I tried to do the best overview I could. If you are chronically ill and wish to travel but are afraid to do so because of limitations imposed by your illness(es), it’s possible that travel is not a good idea for you at this time or it’s possible that you may be able to do so with sufficient planning and and a dose of courage. I wasn’t at all sure I’d make it through this trip but I did it and I’m glad I did. Everyone is different, though, and each person needs to evaluate his/her own situation to determine whether it is wise to travel. I just thought I’d share my experience in case it gives anyone ideas. I really think it’s important to stay safe and evaluate one’s own situation to ascertain whether traveling is advisable.

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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  • August 12, 2011   16 Comments