Health Benefits of Pets

Logging some time with your furry friends is proven to help you feel happier. So play fetch with your dog/cat or sneak in a few cuddles with your dog/cat. It will make both of you feel happier. Actually, pets are scientifically known to improve well-being and improve mental health.

Animals offer a kind of companionship that doesn’t drain our energy by expecting constant conversation. They replenish us by offering comfort beyond words.

Cat

I got a cat a year ago and never regretted it. Cats and introverts have a lot in common. They prefer to deal with things in their own heads. I love being able to lie down or sit on the couch all day when I am feeling poorly and have her curl up next to me. She is content to just sit with me.

She can be quirky and weird sometimes which never fails to make me laugh even when I’m feeling terrible or depressed. Not a day goes by that I do not laugh at least once at the hilarious antics of my cat. Laughter really is great medicine. It’s definitely a great stress reliever.

According to science, cats can help you live longer. Cat purrs have shown to promote healing and I believe it. There’s nothing more soothing than hearing a cat purr.  Apparently, the vibration from purring has the potential to be medically therapeutic, which can help with pain relief.

Research also indicates that stroking a pet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

 

Compassion – It’s not just for others

Prior to developing a chronic illness, I refused to let a “bad” version of myself appear. I always wanted to be at my best, at the risk of being too hard with myself. I’m still this way if I’m truly honest with myself.

“The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.” – Fred Rogers

I personally find that the problem is not comparing myself to other people, but comparing what I can achieve now against what I used to be able to achieve. I’m not ready to accept my new limitations. I always want to fight against them. There is still a little voice at the back of my mind that tells me if I tried a little harder I could be that person again.

woman-918981_1920I try not to beat myself up for being “useless” or “lazy.” I understand that having a chronic illness does not mean I am any of those things. I am also quite aware that when I beat myself up for things outside my control I feel paralysed.

Being understanding and compassionate of other’s limits has never been a problem. Compassion for others comes as naturally as breathing. I find it a lot harder when turned inward.

Shame has never motivated anyone to do anything, but compassion does. So this is my current goal. Learn to be as compassionate to myself as I am to others.

You can’t see pain

If only people could see the pain and struggles we face daily.

girl-839826_1920Most healthy individuals will never truly understand what we go through living with a chronic illness day after day. The pain and sickness never go away.

We put makeup on and dress up so we can feel normal even if it’s just for a few moments. It takes a lot of effort and uses what little energy we have to do our hair and makeup. The pain is always present underneath the surface.

We don’t want to look sick when we go out in public.

When you say “you don’t look sick” to someone with a chronic illness what we hear is that you don’t believe that we are that sick. How can anyone look good and be smiling if they are really that sick?

Please be kind you never know what others are going through.

“Chronic pain is one of the most underestimated health care problems in the world today. We believe chronic pain is a disease in its own right.” Professor Harald Breivik, World Health Organization

Living Chronic Illness

Try again tomorrow

Things almost never go as planned! This is a wonderful reminder to keep in mind for adapting to all the changes that come with a flare up.

window-view-1081788_1920Living with chronic illness isn’t easy. Some days you are just going to be discouraged, especially when experiencing a flare up. Some days your illness is going to take over no matter how much you fight it.

It’s okay to allow yourself to rage at the unfairness of it all. It okay to feel confused and lost, questioning your own body and mind. Please remember that you can try again tomorrow. Maybe you won’t feel better physically, but you might feel stronger emotionally.

“Sometime, you just have to curl up with your blankie until you feel better.” – Unknown

What I’m not saying about my illness

“Please try not to judge how someone is dealing with a pain you have not experienced.” –  Unknown

Just because I trudge forward to get things done doesn’t mean I’m okay. In truth, I’m not okay. Do you know how much strength and effort it takes to fight when you already feel defeated? Do you know the energy it takes to look normal? Sometimes I am in so much pain I want to cry with every breath. Sometimes I am so exhausted, it takes everything I have just to stay awake.

“You always have to carry on and you can, because you have to.” – Kate Winslet

girl-1733346_1920

My fake smiles might make other people feel better, but that’s about all they do.

I might be overcoming the obstacles and refusing to let the illness beat me, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay. I keep going forward because there’s really no other choice. I have a family that counts on me. I job I need to keep to stay financially afloat. Sometimes, the pain gets so bad that it influences my dreams. Last night, I dreamt that my workplace was going under and that I was relieved because it meant I could go on unemployment and have a few days off to take care of me.

I’m simply trying my best to deal with my illness and still live my daily life the only way I know how. I am trying to concentrate on the positive and get excited about the small things. When I reflect on my resilience over the past year, I am amazed.

“She’s strong but she’s exhausted.” – r.h. Sin

I just ask that you do not mistake my good days for being ‘able, cured, getting better,’ etc. When people get excited for me and declare me healed, it breaks my heart to have to explain that what I have is incurable. No, not every illness has a cure. Yes, I’m working with a team of doctors to learn how to manage my illnesses and get back a minimum quality of life, but we are far from that moment yet.

“Sometimes when I say “I’m okay” I want someone to look me in the eyes, hug me tight and say “I know you’re not.” – Unknown

Science saves lives, not myths

People who do not have a medical license should abstain from giving out medical advice. There is a growing distrust of science and medicine in favour of “natural”, “untested”, “alternative”. This attitude towards receiving treatment and gaining proper diagnosis cannot be tolerated. It is more hurtful and damaging than anything else.

People with depression need medication, not just a pair of running shoes and fresh air. People with asthma need inhalers, not breathing exercises and self-help books. People with diabetes need endocrinologist and insulin, not the latest diet trend.

Stop telling people with illnesses that going gluten-free diets or Omega3 will cure the incurable. If you have an intolerance or are missing specific vitamins, the doctors will diagnose it and prescribe the specific vitamins for you.

If you won’t listen to me, please listen to what Bill Nye has to say about alternative cures.

 

If you still hesitate, see this article where a wellness blogger admits to lying about having cancer and her natural cure. How many people believed in her story? How many people will die because they followed her advice?

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Dealing with a judgemental pharmacist

Last year I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, Hyperthyroidism and Thyroid Cancer. My doctors also suspect I have another auto-immune illness that they have yet to identify. Since then there has a lot of prescriptions changes and adjustment and I’m still getting tested every month and my prescriptions are revised every time.

medications-257359_1920I was shocked to face a pharmacist who openly and loudly questioned all my medication and my medical illnesses and gave me a speech about prescription medicine addicts. First of all, if I am being followed by a family doctor, an endocrinologist and a rheumatologist, it’s probably because I’m sick. It may not be written on my face or show at first look, but as a pharmacist, you should know that there are plenty of “invisible” illnesses. He even added that it was a shame for a mother to behave that way.

Short to say, I’m no longer dealing with that pharmacy. I felt bad enough with my health being all in shambles and I was doing my best to get better and now everyone within hearing shot was looking at me like I was a drug addict.

Empathy is not something you can write a prescription for, but it should be a requirement of anyone going into the medical industry.

Have you meant with judgement over medication you have been taking?

Testing Chronic Illness Hacks

I read a few articles that gave tips and tricks (a.k.a hacks) to make living with chronic illness easier. I decided to put them to the test and see if they may actually work. Here are my findings:

 

Bar Stoll in the Kitchen

“Having a bar stool in the kitchen can help you get through cleaning the dishes with less pain.”

restaurant-852735_1920I can testify that this one works. Try to get a bar stool that the right height so that you do not have to reach upwards or you will be in pain anyway. I tried this when living in my old apartment as I was at the point where I could do the dishes without ending in tears and in pain for the rest of the day. It simply didn’t make any sense anymore. Sitting on a bar stool took longer before the pain became unsupportable and my legs started giving under me. What works even better … getting a dishwasher. If you can afford the addition, invest. It’s worth every penny.

What works even better … getting a dishwasher. If you can afford the addition, invest. It’s worth every penny. I enjoy working in the kitchen again.

Heating Seats in the Car

This works. They are amazing for my back and hips. I turn the seat heating all the time, even on super hot days. I discovered heating seats when I first started dating the man who would become my husband. He had heating seat in his car and it made me feel so much better. I barely use my own car anymore. As the chronic illness progressed, I find that driving my car hurts too much.

I discovered heating seats when I first started dating the man who would become my husband. He had heating seat in his car and it made me feel so much better. I barely use my own car anymore. As the chronic illness progressed, I find that driving my car hurts too much.

As the chronic illness progressed, I find that driving my car hurts too much. I can’t drive anymore on days where the pain is bad. If I sit in a car without heat for any length of time, the pain gets so bad, I lose control over my legs and feet.

Reach to Meds First

“Set your alarm early and take pain meds. It will give them time to kick in before you have to get up.”

I tried reaching for pain pills first thing in the morning. It helps, but not enough to really make life easier. Maybe it’s because I don’t have miracle pain pills yet.

Shower Chair

Having a shower chair in the bathroom work in 2 ways. On days when you are in too much pain to stand in the shower you can sit down. If you like me and can’t stand on one leg anymore, the chair helps with shaving your legs.

Using the chair on days when you can stand up, make sure that everything you need can be reached when sitting down. I also found that having a shower with a detachable head is a must.

 

 

Do not be fooled by appearances

Did you know that 96% of chronic illnesses are invisible?

I may look well and healthy, but beneath the surface is a world of pain and exhaustion. When the battle goes on beneath the skin or within the mind, the war cannot be seen through human eyes. No one can see that my body is on a self-destruct mission. If only I could show you what goes on beneath the surface, if the only pain was visible,  you would be horrified by what you would see. I am in constant pain, the sort of pain that meds cannot numb, it’s only the level of the pain that varies from day to day.

“Chronic pain is one of the most underestimated health care problems in the world today. We believe chronic pain is a disease in its own right.” Professor Harald Breivik, World Health Organization

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