How I try to cope with the unpredictable nature of my health

How I try to cope with the unpredictable nature of my health (8.5 years and counting)

1. I make all decisions related to my health on my own because no one else knows my body better. Patient empowerment is so important when dealing with a chronic illness.

2. I trust that my body will respond if I give it enough time and care. I need to allow it time + listen to it closely.

3. I choose to work on acceptance rather than fight the inevitable. It allows me to work with my circumstances from a space of love rather than hate.

4. I acknowledge limitations, suffering and pain and put more focus on opportunities, dealing with emotions and recovery.

5. I choose faith over fear; vulnerability when necessary over strength all the time (it can be pretty unrealistic to be strong all the time).

6. I protect my energy. I’ve learned to say more ‘no’ and less ‘yes’ both politely and affirmatively.

7. I do not track my progress based on what I can do in relation to others.

8. I keep myself updated about the condition + advancements in science. This way, I’m able to make informed and choices.

9. I try to find miracles on a day to day basis. It keeps my hope going for something greater.

10. I am grateful for what I have and who I have around for me (Quality > quantity, as far as possible).

11. I celebrate every little progress I make. Sometimes getting out of bed is progress too.

12. I make flexible plans and routine. Self-care is always at the top of the list.

13. I’m honest about my health with myself and people

14. I do not ask “Why me?” anymore. That question leads to a downward spiral and takes you straight into a shithole.

15. I look at my health as just one part of my experience on this planet. It’s not my health which defines who I am as a person; it’s how I respond to it that does. I can’t just rid my body of the illness but I can definitely work on giving it less power.

I end up having to work with my body as if I’m working with a child. It takes lots of time, effort, love, compassion and consistent practise.

It’s not easy but every response is worth it 💗

Update

Hi all,

I haven’t been too well since the start of 2017. I’ve been dealing with bedriddening pain + gut related issues and the effect of all of it on my activity level has been quite significant.  My health has taken a major dip this year and I’ve spent a large part of my time re-figuring things out.

This is life – it’s never predictable and to stay afloat, we have to keep finding a “new” balance + remember to be patient with ourselves through it. Sometimes it may feel like we’re starting all over again, however, it’s crucial to put our focus on the fact that we’re also wiser, stronger, more courages and a little more ready each time.

There’s been more happening in my gut and I’m currently working with an intergrative GP, a gastroenterologist and naturopath to find the next best step. The amount of decision fatigue I’ve experienced over the last five months is not funny. Apart from a rather serious back flare up + sublaxed shoulders, something so simple, straight-forward and enjoyable like food turned into this massive, overwhelmingly exhausting thing that required/ requires constant awareness and thinking.

For the next three weeks or so, I’ll be going on two very strong medications, known for worsening all existing symptoms. I’ve have been specifically told to not take this treatment too lightly and it might make life seem a tiny bit miserable. As someone who deals with excruciating pain and indescribable fatigue on a daily basis, I honestly don’t know how much worse things can get. However, I have also seen myself at my worst before and hence believe it’s important that I take extra precautions and have help available for me if necessary. Thankfully, I do have a small group of people to count on if needed.

On a brighter note, I’ve got a couple of workshops to teach and close friends to meet so I’m really keeping my fingers-crossed and spirit high :) I’m aware of what may happen, giving my body extra time off, saying more no and less yes (trust me, it’s needed when you are functioning on limited energy) and taking everything one baby step at a time.

I hope everyone’s doing fine.

In case I’m not around much, Happy June! ❤️

Love,

Md

P.S. This post is not about defeat or seeking validation, and most definitely not one asking for pity.  If it sounded like any of these to anyone, please let it go. I’m just sharing and giving an update of how things have been this year. Please keep in mind that it is very much possible to mentally accept and deal with things gracefully WHILE experiencing a great amount of physical discomfort.

#chronicillness

07/05/17: Mandala Making Workshop

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Beautiful day. Beautiful space. Beautiful people. Beautiful artwork. Beautiful lessons.

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Here’s me setting up everything, one pen at a time. And check out my wobbly left shoulder holding on to its dear life. 🌷

I had such a wonderful time teaching the Mandala Making Workshop last weekend. Somehow, those two hours made me feel more alive than anything else has in more than half a year now. The most beautiful thing about the experience was the very fact that it brought people from different walks of life together, for one shared purpose: to give a break to their busy minds and let their creativity run wild.

We had a retiree who was looking for ways to keep her mind active, a yoga teacher exploring ways for self-expression, a mandarin language teacher who had forgotten that she can create, a computer engineer who needed her calculating brain to quieten for once… none of them had ANY background in mandalas or pattern-making, hadn’t done much research and yet they were there because it seemed right…I mean, isn’t this just WOW?!

Even though it is not uncommon, I am still so amazed at how the whole process shifted something for some of the participants. For me, being there and seeing that in itself was such a deeply moving experience. To be honest, I’m still letting it all sink in. Everything from the place, to people and to the tea we had seemed right. I don’t think I could  have asked to be anywhere else on that Sunday morning but there, teaching, sharing and learning. I’m fatigued out of my mind and yet so full in my heart. Let’s see how long it takes for me to recover from all of it physically but I know I’ll be okay and I’ll do this again when it’s time. My body needs rest now. Conducting a workshop after half a year of being 90% bedridden is a big step ahead for me. And it didn’t just happen overnight… this big step comprised of many, many small steps over the last so many months and years…

One day at a time

One step at a time.

🌷🌿🙏🏼✨

What it’s like being single with a chronic illness

(What it’s like being single with a chronic illness)

Every once in a while I come across someone or the other who would ask me questions like:

“Why are you still single?!”

“Have you seen yourself?!? You can find anyone! Just go out! Go online! Why do you want to be alone? ” (that’s really beyond the point)

“How are you managing without a partner?”

“Isn’t it better to have someone around at least?”

“Don’t you get bored alone?” (I honestly don’t)

“Don’t you want someone to help you get out of bed?”

“Why don’t you just go out and see what comes to you!?”

Here’s the thing about dating and chronic illnsss – it’s not straight-forward. It’s not ONLY about feelings and love anymore. Living with pain 24/7 and dealing with an illness that’s going to be with you for the rest of your life (well, till science finds a solution or a miracle takes place) changes your perspective about pretty much everything. Every day is a new day and life is as predictably unpredictable as it can get.

What is considered rather “straight-forward” in the context of dating now involves much more complicated factors like compatibility in terms of lifestyle and practicality of the relationship. Often, these are also the topics people prefer not to discuss in detail — who wants to talk about how it is like to wake up and sleep with so much pain?

Who likes to talk about guards, slings and tapes?

Who wants to run through your pain management programme?

Who wants to know what it’s like to have to take a break during showers because of fatigue?

Who wants to discuss how to deal with an arm that sublaxes? Or what to do when your back flares up and gets you bed-ridden? Who wants to listen to your prognosis?

Who actually wants to educate themselves about someone else’s health?

Who wants to know what it’s like to make a different career choice not because you are incapable, lazy or not ambitious but because your health must be your priority? (I believe it’s a choice I’ve made for my health not because of it)

Who wants to know what it’s like to pretty much build a life all over again from scratch?

Who wants to understand what it’s like to be hopeful, grateful and practical at the same time?

Who’s willing to talk about responsibilities? Partnership? Who wants to talk about hospitals, bills, insurance and disability aid when there are so many other fun things to discuss? Right?!

Who’s willing to see what an invisible illness really looks like?

And most importantly, who’s going to be able to look past that illness, despite it being a major experience for you, and realise that it’s just one aspect of who you are?

Unfortunately, the things that people usually shy away from are exactly the things that need to be talked about. That’s the case with all of us but even more so when you’re dating someone with a body that doesn’t function as per “normal”.

From the last so many years of literally dating myself, hating my body (for a while) and now respecting it so much has taught me such valuable lessons which I wouldn’t exchange for anything. I’m very happy that I chose to give ‘me’ all the time I deserved. Somewhere I had forgotten how much I needed it.

There’s no going back for me anymore. I don’t regret choosing to date myself. I don’t regret deciding that it was time to be on my own and manage with whatever support I had and to make the best out of it. It was painful, every bit of it and yet I say this – i absolutely don’t regret experiencing loneliness and realising how amazingly freeing it actually is. It has brought me closer to who I am as a person, who I always was and has opened doors to so many opportunities.

I couldn’t quite have imagined sharing my story  with everyone and being of help to some people had I let things happen the way the old me thought they were “supposed to be”. I wouldn’t have been here feeling somewhat at peace with everything. I wouldn’t have been able to grow out of fear, trust myself and be grateful for all that I have without leaving a few things behind.

Dating myself for years altogether has only taught me patience (what’s an empowered patient without patience anyway?) and the need for acceptance of self. If I hadn’t learned to accept who I was becoming, I wouldn’t have become so clear about my wants and needs. If I hadn’t learnt to let go of the things that no longer served me, I wouldn’t have been able to embrace my new reality. I most definitely wouldn’t have been able to create space for anyone else in my life.

I couldn’t have imagined having someone else with me through the last few years. I don’t think it would have proven to be helpful for either of us. In some ways, I’m grateful that I spent those years alone, figuring so many things out all at once. Now that I have enough space to embrace who I am, I have enough space for someone else too. Keeping that in mind, no matter how sad it can sound to some people, my full-time job will always be self-care and I can’t be with someone who wouldn’t see that.

It’s really ok to be single and deal with a chronic illness AND it is ok to be sick and be in a perfectly healthy relationship. What matters ultimately is whether you get to honour your health.

Love,

MD

❤️

(What it’s like being single with a chronic illness)
Read the article on themighty.com

Hello, April! 

Just a mini reminder to stay true to your own journey and pace yourself. Time is never in our control but how we use time is.

March was a busy month and I’ve been feeling more exhausted than normal (I know, I know, for those without chronic illness, this must hardly make any sense). The good thing is that whatever was planned for March is all done and that’s one big step in the right direction. However, before I could even allow myself to fully rest, there’s stuff lined up for April which I want to tend to. Half of me is excited and the other half just wants to hibernate because you can never get enough rest when your body is constantly using up a lot more energy.

It feels like there’s hardly any time to recuperate from March! The workaholic, Ms. Productive in me wants to take charge and make things right and “fix” everything and never stop (this is the older version of me who thought she had it all figured out because at one point she did and guess what, I’ve grown to listen to her less and listen to my body more) because time is running out or something. The truth is, it always feels this way unless I take the initiative to really create space and find time for selfcare – to think less in terms of productivity and more in terms of peace, love and what makes me smile from within.

It’s funny how we think we have control over time when all we have control over is how we respond to it. Time continues to fly and do its thing and either we learn to work with it and use it in a way that aligns with our true selves or we let it freak us out and allow it to paralyze us further.