How to survive and thrive when you have a chronic illness

I was mostly healthy as a child though I did have occasional bouts of bronchitis. I remember being put in the bathroom with hot water running in the shower and I would sit in the bathroom and breathe the steam in to help break up my cough. That all changed when I turned 15 and started my sophomore year of highschool. I began throwing up often and it was worse in the mornings. Any time I would eat anything at all if felt so heavy like a brick in my stomach. I’m a petite person and I lost so much weight. Doctor’s wanted to write it off as me not wanting to go to school or having an eating disorder. I loved school and I love food! Several years and many, many doctors later I was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. I wanted to share with others how I’ve not only managed to survive having a chronic illness but also thrive!

  1. Stay active. The best thing and hardest thing that ever happened in my life was having children! You HAVE to get up each morning generally around the same time. You have to chase them around and change diapers and keep them out of trouble and care for them. I found that the more activity I did on a regular basis the better my health was. However, it’s a fine line. I do too much and that makes me sick. It’s all about balance!
  2. Find a good doctor. This is VERY important. Doctors are people. They make mistakes. They have bad days, but a good doctor will address your concerns and leave you feeling hopeful and like you can have some quality of life. It took so many doctors until I finally found the one who diagnosed me with POTS. His name was Dr. Chelimsky. I just remember he was such a kind man who actually believed what I was telling him enough to keep running tests to help me. Don’t give up. Find a good doctor, it’s life changing!
  3. Plan ahead for bad days. Several years ago I started meal planning. On the days I am not feeling well I just grab a meal from the freezer and pop it in the oven! Easy peesy!
  4. Take care of you! You have to take care of yourself to be able to care for others. For me that means taking vitamins, staying hydrated, eating a ton of salt, walking on the treadmill and being kind to myself when I’m not feeling well and giving myself permission to just lay around and watch Disney movies with my boys!
  5. Avoid stress. I realize that it’s not always possible to avoid stress. I have a child with special needs and that’s insane stressful sometimes. However, drop the drama. Get rid of the unnecessary stress. Find something that helps calm you when you are stressed. For me that’s walking on the treadmill, maybe having a glass of wine or doing a craft.
  6. Give yourself grace. Maybe life won’t end up looking the way you wanted it to look. That doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful! I desperately wanted to be a nurse and have a career. I worked in the hospital for several years as a secretary which only made my desire to be a nurse increase! After years of spending the time I felt good at work and feeling awful the rest of the time, and money spent in school that couldn’t be completed due to my health, I realized this was one dream that was not to come true. Instead I met my husband and have worked from home in the medical field since and also spent every day home with my boys!

Posted in Survive & Thrive, Uncategorized.