You ARE Your Best Expert on YOU!!

December 10th, 2009

There’s a couple things I’ve been noticing about human nature lately.  One is that we all want to be validated and appreciated.  Just check out Ellen DeGeneres – and when she comes on the stage, she’s looking for approval.  Though she may try and shy away from it or pretend it’s a bit of a “nuisance”, I think she’s loving it.

And what’s not to love about being approved of?  We all want it. . . . crave it in fact!

Then, there’s this other thing that we all long for which is for SOMETHING – just one thing – to stay the same. 

Since my particular focus is on supporting patients and caregivers dealing with chronic or serious illness, that one thing that we may have always taken for granted is our health.  We assume it’s going to be there, it’s often something we take for granted until BAM – something changes.

Whether we’re affected by a loved one or our own chronic illness, the good health that we may have enjoyed for most of our lives is suddenly changed.  Maybe it’s something temporary – like a cold or the flu – or maybe something more chronic – like an auto-immune disease.  Or God forbid, maybe something more serious.

But, whatever happened, things are NOT the same any longer.  AND, that can be very unsettling  – to put it mildly.  (you can also feel free to substitute your favorite expletive for your experience here)

What makes it all the more “unsettling” (for lack of a better word) is that the symptoms either change so frequently that it’s hard keeping up with yourself about what’s going on.  Or, on the other hand, nothing is changing at all despite whatever you do and you continue to wrestle with the same darn ache, pain, sadness, etc with no let up in site.  Another version is that you get some let up but it is so unexpected and often so brief – and then things come back sometimes with a vengeance.

I wish there were some pat answer for this kind of thing.  I wish I could wrap this all up in a neat little bow and give you six steps to get through this and tell you it will all be okay.

I so wish I could do that.  And I’d be lying to both of us to pretend that I can make change happen for anyone. 

With my own physical and mental symptoms, I have found the structures and support that work for me.  I’ve taken the time, when I feel good, to write down what things set off my symptoms, what helps things get better, what intensifies things and so I now have more of a working knowledge of this.

It’s taken me a while to do my own research on myself – the idea of being a habit detective came from my colleague Havi.  She helped me start watching what I do when I don’t feel good – how I become embarassed and  feel ashamed for “setting myself up” to feel bad.  From her, I learned to just take a good look at myself to see what I was doing first – and then slowly slowly make the changes that have helped me get out of pain in small incremental steps.

Words actually don’t do justice to this ongoing process – and I’ve been at it a long time.

If you are sick – I know it’s not easy being you.  And that’s probably the understatement of the day

I do have a teeny tiny request of you though if you’re willing – notice what makes you feel better.  Don’t do anything about it if you don’t feel like it – just notice the little things that helps.  If you’ve got migraines for example, maybe a dark quiet room helps.  If you’ve got chronic pain, maybe a certain stretch helps or a nap.  I don’t know what your answers are. . . . but I do know that there are answers.

And though I may sound like a broken record here, when we first notice what helps and then – if we want – share it with each other, we can create a web of support that works wonders across the virtual world. 

My day today has been really stressful and it follows a pattern of insomnia that I’ve developed off and on over several months.   I shared with my two 20 year old sons that it’s tough being me right now. 

Thank God, they are really amazing people – but what’s going on as I write this is nothing short of a miracle.  I ran errands for the missing ingredients, recycled, walked in at 10PM and they had the kitchen prepped, all the ingredients cut up, my comforter in the dryer (my cats keep throwing up on it) and are finishing the job as I write this. 

That kind of cooperation – which happened so unexpectedly – literally made my back pain disappear.  Completely gone!

Needless to say, I’ve thanked them profusely.  I’m fortunate that they are so supportive.  It isn’t always that way here – but today, in this moment, I can feel myself relaxing and resting into this amazing family that I have at home with me.  And I’m so grateful.

And, though I know it won’t last, that the symptoms will morph and change and the kitchen will inevitably get back to it’s grimy self as they’ll lose focus while they get excited about the game on TV – I can take in this moment as the blessing that it is.  And that helps me.  Alot!!!

So, what I’ve noticed is that when I share what’s true for me, sometimes I get unexpected cooperation and that feels really good to me.

What are you noticing as you’re dealing with your situation?  What kind of support really helps you when you’re not at your best? 

 

Comment Zen

  • Share how you feel, ask questions if you want, give feedback.
  • Support and insights are most welcome.  But, please – no criticism or judgments of me or others.
  • You are welcome to mention websites or authors you’ve found helpful.  Refrain from giving medical advice.

4 Responses to “You ARE Your Best Expert on YOU!!”

  1. GirlPie Says:

    How wonderful that your boys heal back pain ~ ! (Oh I wish!)

    Now, seriously, it seems natural that lifting that weight off your back, that weight of all that troubled, you by letting your sons (and any of your friends) help carry it should lessen your back pain… a partner in any endeavor “halves a burden, double the joy,” and your offer of a partnership to those who need it, right here in your blog, will certainly be a warm welcome off a bent back to anyone who needs you.

    Keep up the good works, Char ~ !

    @TheGirlPie

  2. Char Says:

    That’s a brilliant observation GirlPie and it makes such sense – when we have support with whatever it is, it makes life so much easier.

    And seriously, it certainly did cure my back pain having their help. Everything felt easier after that between us.

    Support works!!

    At a time when it often seems support is no where in site – like when we’re ill and no one seems to get it – it can make everything easier when we get the support we need and that’s what I want to provide to others who are looking for it.

  3. Sarah Marie Lacy Says:

    That’s such a good reminder – trying to remember what helps and doing that, even if it’s just one small thing.

    I know that if I’m in pain, heat helps. I know that if I’m overwhelmed, a list of what I need to do helps.

    It’s funny how the little things really make the biggest difference.

  4. Char Says:

    Hey Sarah:

    Kudos for you for noticing how the little things make such a difference.

    I’ve just returned from shopping and noticed my lower back hurts . . . . read your reminder that heat helps and BAM, here I sit with my heat pack on my back thanks to your thoughts on this.

    What’s amazing to me is how I’m always learning from my readers . . . and everything else.

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