Shake it Off

Living with a chronic illness is a challenge beyond words when encountering people who don’t understand. We have all had an experience of rudeness beyond belief. There are stairs when taking medication in public. Rude remarks when using a walking device. 

 I cannot tell you how many times people have been disrespectful or stared at me because I use a wheelchair in a store. The majority of the time people either stand in front of me, unwilling to move or practically run away. People act like I have the plague. I have heard over the few years I have used a wheelchair in a store that I am too young to use one or too pretty. The stairs and remarks make me feel like I owe people an explanation. However, I do not need to explain my life to everyone I encounter. If the right doors are open to education someone I don’t mind but there shouldn’t be a social pressure to explain it all. 

 Many people doubt the intensity of our pain and they question if we are indeed really sick. No one seems to understand battling against your body and taking care of yourself is a full-time job. Simple tasks are draining. Some people go out of their way to upset us or to be rude. They offer unnecessary options on how to break free of the chronic illness chains.

 

Too often Spoonies lose friends due to their illness. Some people want absolutely nothing to do with us while others act strangely towards us. 

Too often people judge us before they get to know us. People treat us at times like we are nothing or are stupid. 

Too often we hear phrases like: 

But you don’t look sick

You need to be more positive

Have you tried…

You’re too young to be sick

It must be nice not having to go to work/school

You’re just having a bad day

You need to get more exercise

It’s all in your head

Maybe if you got out more

These things get under a spoonies skin, to say the least. When people mistreat you, SHAKE IT OFF. It is not your fault. Don’t let them get to you. You are an amazing person. Even though you are ill, you are so valuable. You have so much to offer this world. Shake off the stares, Shake off the negative and nasty remarks, Shake off the heartbreak…. Shake it off.. It’s gonna be alright

Hold your head up high, cause it’s gonna be alright. You have so much courage. You are an inspiration for thriving despite every setback. Sending lots of spoons, prayers, and hugs. ❤

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Spoonful of Spoonie Encouragment

Mornings for those with a chronic illness are a struggle beyond words. Waking up and willing our bodies to function is a fight. Here is a spoonful of encouragement for spoonie warriors. Happy Monday, brave friend!

You have victoriously made it out of bed this morning. The symptoms and pain are already overwhelming, but you’ve got this. You only need to take today one minute at a time. You have all the strength you need, even though it might not seem that way. Anxiety and depression attempt to dictate your day. Take a breath. Take a break.  Get some rest. Keep fighting to make today the best day possible.

You have been chosen to walk this path. It is one filled with heartbreak, disappointment, and setbacks. Walking the path of someone who is chronically ill is a challenge to say the very least. Being sick has most likely disrupted your flawless rhythm with life. It has stopped you dead in your tracks. Your illness has tried to toss your dreams out the window.

Though this path is difficult, I assure you there is a lot of beauty to be discovered. Sure life is not what it used to be, but the song you sing is just as beautiful. There is hope, joy, love, laughter, and life to be found on this path. You will be able to recreate your wonderful dreams. You are still you, despite your illness. You are an amazing and beautiful person with a flawless story and a huge purpose.

    There will be days that you become overwhelmed and feel completely alone. Your feelings are understandable, however, I promise you, you do not walk alone on this path. There are people who care about you, people who understand how difficult the journey is, and people who want to support you.

I am proud of all you have accomplished. I know you will thrive today. This week will be lovely simply because it is the only choice. While you don’t need to be positive all the time you need to take baby steps forward. You are doing amazing. Raise your coffee (or tea) to a great week warrior!

When Chronic Pain and Illness Take Everything Away: How to Mourn Our Losses

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When Chronic Pain and Illness Take Everything Away: How to Mourn Our Losses is a practical book for anyone who battles a chronic illness or chronic pain. Esther is an inspirational individual who has thrived in many aspects of life despite chronic illness, without a doubt she is a role model. Reaching out as a compassionate friend she gently teaches her readers about the grieving process and coping with chronic illness and chronic pain. She is transparent with her faith journey as well as her struggles and victories.

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Grief is an overwhelming aspect of chronic illness that threatens to take over. It breaks a person down. Those facing chronic illness and chronic pain grieve the person he or she was before the pain, their past, broken relationships, shattered dreams, and the person they had hoped to become. Chronic illness alters every element of life. At times, with the pain and additional symptoms, those with chronic illness don’t want to deal with the emotions. However, emotions are healthy and a part of life.

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Personally, the emotions tend to hit me like a ton of bricks in a delayed reaction. Grief with chronic illness was no different. I get consumed with daily life not processing what I am going through on an emotional level. Maybe you can relate. Once the emotions hit it is overwhelming. I officially got my diagnosis in my late adolescent years. I took a season to grieve all the things I missed out on like prom and mission trips I had planned out. That season I grieved the friends I lost.

I have worked through a lot of the grief but there is still some work to be done. Support is essential when working through it. This book provides a positive outlet for grief. One of my favorite things is that there are writing prompts to assist the reader in constructively working through emotions.

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Amazon description: “Chronic pain, illness, and disability take so much away. Sometimes it seems as though they take everything we have ever loved and held dear.

Our physical abilities and our jobs. Our current passions and future dreams. Our finances and our friends. Our sense of community and our ability to engage the world in ways we could before.

Chronic pain takes away our sense of self and who we always thought ourselves to be. How in the world are we supposed to deal with this fact?”

Make sure to pre-order your book here! In addition, feel free to drop by Esther’s blog: Life in Slow Motion.

Helping Other Despite Illness

Before stepping into my currently reality, I was able to serve others regularly. I was able to help at free dinners, do yard work, mission work, help out with a retreat, youth group, and a few other small things. I love to help. I figured I would only need to step back slightly for half a season due to my health (mainly due to getting answers and five operations in four years). However, that was not reality. My limitations weighted me down as I realized how I had been serving was no longer an option physically. The desire to be used burned with in as I pleaded with God to use me in any way. This is still something I am working through.

I adore running Chronically Hopeful, but there are days it doesn’t seem like enough (there is plenty of work, but I wanted to serve more).  Most of you know that right now I am leading with a few other women two online Bible studies. I have also joined the ministry team for my online Church.

When God lovely nudged my heart to lead Come With Me, I attempted to tell Him I was too busy. Can you guess who won that disagreement? He did hands down. One of the chapters we are reading this week is about Jesus’ presence in a storm, specifically when the disciples woke up Jesus in a panic followed by Jesus simply rebuking the storm.

We all encounter different trials in different seasons of life. Trials come so that God can discipline us, mold us, enable us to comfort others, and bring us closer to Him all while bringing glory to His name. The Bible calls us to carry one another’s burdens. Do you know of someone in a trial? Trials are demanding. Support is essential during these times.

Most people who follow Chronically Hopeful are chronically ill, so the remainder of this post is written with you in mind. How can I support someone when I am physically limited? It can be intimidating to offer help when you feel flawed. You might be turned down completely, I have been many times, but that’s okay. Offer whatever you have to God, “not enough becomes more than enough when we give it to God.”

Keep in mind the little things make a big difference. Everyone needs encouragement. The simplest notes of encouragement go a long ways. Use Facebook, e-mail, or snail mail. A short note with a Bible verse or a line or two are excellent ways to start. If you want a little more of a challenge write an entire letter and be personal.

Find an in person project that is short term and can accommodate you needs. This might be assisting in the nursey at church, being a greeter, making a meal for a family, or helping a child with homework in the neighborhood.

There is nothing like being in person, but at times illness traps us either keeping us homebound or sucking the energy (and spoons) out of us. Volunteer online. I know at first it is a strange concept. Support groups can use help with events or managing pages or responding to comments. Online Bible studies are another option.

Do you find it difficult to reach out and help others? Share your struggles. Share ways you have been successful in this.

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Fruit of Brokenness

Today, I have a special treat for you, Melinda from  Fruit of Brokenness.

I had to accept it. But I didn’t want to. I had to accept a term I didn’t like for myself. It’s a label used when someone does something horrific like shoot a bunch of innocent people or drown their children. We use it to describe people who are so out of touch with reality or so far outside societal norms that they make us uncomfortable…

MENTALLY ILL.

If you met me, your first thought wouldn’t be “mentally ill.” I mean, I look like a normal 43-year-old mom of three kids… which means I can look a little crazy-frazzled at times, but I’m not the stereotypical unkempt, wild-eyed, roaming the streets talking to imaginary friends and enemies.

I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. Sometimes my brain goes sideways.

Major or severe, depression is difficult to explain to someone who has never experienced it.

It’s like walking death. Everything that makes you-you carved out, leaving a gaping emptiness that can’t believe you ever really were anything, especially not anything good. You no longer enjoy your favorite things, or anything else. It’s impossible to believe things will get better; it’s impossible to believe that better is your normal.

Some of you may think that faith in God should make feeling like this impossible, that people who claim to be Christians who suffer depression or anxiety must be doing something wrong.

Their faith must not be strong enough.

They don’t pray or read the Bible enough.

They must have hidden sin.

While all these things can contribute to depression, depression is not just a spiritual issue. When churches approach people struggling with mental health issues as if is all only their fault, it is unhelpful at best, and can be dangerous.

Faith hasn’t cured me.

While a correct understanding of God and ourselves is vital for mental health, it doesn’t guarantee we won’t suffer from depression or anxiety.

Faith isn’t a magic cure-all. As with physical illness, mental illness can strike down believers and dog their steps.

As Paul related in 2 Corinthians 12, I haven’t been able to pray away my thorn. I have medication that is keeping the suicidal depression in check, but I still struggle with depression and anxiety and know it would be dangerous to quit taking my medication.

I have a chronic illness that requires physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual treatment. To attribute one too much importance than the others is unhelpful. There’s a glitch in my brain that affects my emotions, my perception of reality, and my ability to think clearly.

At its worst, I believe that I am beyond grace.

But there’s something awesome about God’s refusal to remove our thorns. Our weaknesses are an opportunity for His strength, and also His grace, to shine.

Paul knew this.

God can heal. God does heal. But God doesn’t always heal.

It’s not wrong to ask for healing, but we must choose to trust Him whether or not He sends it.

Whatever God allows or chooses in my life, I need to let Him be God. In and through my circumstances.

A huge thank you to Melinda for sharing her story and offering hope to others. Please check out Melinda’s blog and social media:

Fruit of Brokenness

Fruit of Brokenness on Facebook

Melinda VanRy on Twitter

Melinda VanRy on Pinterest

 

Smart Relief Review

As most of you know, I damaged my hip. There isn’t much anyone can do overall, so I have looked into over the counter helps. Which is why I had invested in the Icy Hot Smart Relief. You have most likely seen the TV commercial for it.

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The product description found on Amazon includes:

“Smart Relief offers powerful, portable relief of back pain by bringing TENS technology to pain sufferers in a convenient, affordable way. FDA approved for relief of chronic pain associated with arthritis. TENS (short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) blocks the body’s pain signals by sending gentle electrical pulses along the nerve, which reach the brain before the pain signals do.  Icy Hot Smart Relief Tens Therapy Starter Kit includes a control unit, 3V battery,  Icy Hot Smart Relief Tens Therapy Starter Kit includes a control unit, 3V battery,

Icy Hot Smart Relief Tens Therapy Starter Kit includes a control unit, 3V battery,  Icy Hot Smart Relief Tens Therapy Starter Kit includes a control unit, 3V battery, reusable electrode pad and a user guide. Easy to use, no wires, no assembly, no doctor needed. The electrical pulses of Smart Relief are generated by a small, battery-powered device. It’s remarkably small – only half an inch thick and smaller than a credit card. It easily snaps onto an adhesive patch, and activates two small electrodes that pass the gentle electrical pulses through your skin and block your pain. It provides the same type of TENS relief you find in physical therapy facilities.”

I would not advise using this on an injury like my hip, specifically torn cartilage. However,  I do use this several times a day on my back. It does help in coping with the back pain. I have arthritis in my back, it isn’t straight, Lupus pain, disc issues, and possibly some Fibromyalgia.

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Like it says in the description it is super easy to use. I have had it over a month and have not needed to change the pad or battery. Sometimes it is delayed with turning on but to me, that isn’t a big deal. It is a nice touch to a flare day kit. Hopefully, this review helps you. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

http://www.smartrelief.com/

Pictures of The Past

A picture is worth a thousand words along with a few dozen memories and emotions. Capturing the past the heartache of what once was bubbles over.  Sometimes, I avoid looking at my photos, but other days the temptation of a walk down memory lane wins. The days when laughter was plentiful and sleep was not vital.  Staying up half the night with friends was normal. And of course, anything seemed possible. Not knowing that all too soon minor aches would explode into full blown take over your entire life chronic illness.

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I look at the girl in those pictures overflowing with laughter and pure joy. The insecurities going through my mind as a teen now seem silly. Things weren’t perfect, but they appear that way. The past usually seems easier as we look back.  There are still days I miss the people who left me. The friends who said they would be there, but left.

 

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It’s true, you adjust to the chronic illness life, but little things happen that make you grieve your past. I try to not get carried away in the what if I wasn’t sick game or the things I miss. Everyone asks what you miss most, in reality, I doubt any of us can narrow it down to one thing. I miss how active I once was the energy. Being out in the sun or at the ocean. I miss dancing, hiking, and doing mission work. I miss my hair. Not needing to worry about passing out or running to the bathroom. I miss my old bad days.

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All in all most days I do well with being chronically ill emotionally. I have adjusted and know in my heart that God will use all the pain, symptoms, and every other little chronic illness thing for His glory. He has allowed Lupus and these illnesses to be a part of my life, therefore, I am okay with where I am. Yet, I am still human. I become anxious, overwhelmed, grieve, and ride the roller coaster of emotions. After last April, my emotions went on vacation, but they are back and we are learning how to live together once again.

To be honest, most days are hard in some capacity. Currently, this includes minor meltdowns, severe chest pain, dizzy spells, joint pain, and bladder pain. I have another halter monitor (I will do a review- if I don’t throw it in a lake first). A bladder infection with a side of kidney stones. To top it all off my summer class final is coming up. My liver is holding up though I am cautious due to the fact I need to taper off steroids.

This post is a bit long, but I will be doing a Bible Study update post to let you know more about online Bible studies, which I am excited about!

Can you relate to anything in this post? If so, let me know in the comments! You are the reason I share about my life as a spoonie.

I am helping lead an online Bible Study. We are reading the book Living So That by Wendy Blight. This afternoon I am preparing for an online event later this week. One of the topics spoken about is resting at Jesus’ feet. Sitting silently; just being with Him.”Time spent in silence seeking God’s will is not time wasted, but time spent wisely.” I know it’s hard to get time away. To get a couple of quiet moments. To still our hearts. To actively listen. A few seconds to a few minutes of silence make a difference.  Of course, this takes me back to my journey to Taize, nearly five summers ago.

Taize is a Christian community in France were thousands of teens and young adults gather to draw closer to God. The silence was an essential part of worship there. Learning the simplicity of just being with the Lord.

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I begged God to give me a map for my future, as I sat on a bridge in silence for an hour. That hour changed my walk with Christ allowing me to grow closer than I knew possible.

Now I am certain I never would have understood all He had in store for me.  I wouldn’t have understood that I would minister to those who are chronically ill- I didn’t even know what Lupus was. I wouldn’t have understood that I was called to an online mission field, not Brazil or Africa. I wouldn’t have understood that I needed to slow down or the weight of this quote, “Sometimes we need to care for the 5,000 before ourselves, but sometimes we need to care for ourselves before the 5,000.”  There is still so much I don’t understand, but I trust in God to guide my every breath.

 

 

Honoring God With Our Time

Time is a precious gift that should be cherished. Even with the blessing of a different, perhaps more mature perspective we still have the habit of wishing it away. Who could blame us between pain, frustration, isolation, and layers of symptoms? Cherishing the moment when the moment isn’t all that sweet is not something that comes naturally.

How do we honor God with our time in the midst of a flare? Personally, I have become limited in so many ways and this is a question that has been turning over in my mind nonstop recently. I deeply desire to honor God with every second of my day and to serve Him.

My insecurities boil over, spitting lies like you can’t possible honor God with your time because you are sick, lazy, and useless or look at what so and so is doing you can’t even stand for thirty minutes God can’t possibly use you. He will never get glory from your life. I know in my heart that these are the enemies lies, but when I am drained it is easy to get caught up in them.

It is vital to remember that God’s salvation and love for us, His children is not dependent on our actions. Jesus already paid the price. Salvation is freely ours.

At the same time we can do all things to the glory of God- even the things that make us feel miserable like our symptoms. Pastor John Pipper talks about drinking orange juice to the glory of God,

“But believers can, and this is how they glorify God. Their drinking orange juice is “sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” The word of Godteaches us that the juice, and even our strength to drink it, is a free gift of God (1 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Peter 4:11). The prayer is our humble response of thanks from the heart. Believing this truth in the word, and offering thanks in prayer is one way we drink orange juice to the glory of God.

The other way is to drink lovingly. For example, don’t insist on the biggest helping. This is taught in the context of 1 Corinthians 10:33, “I try to please all men in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (RSV). “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Everything we do—even drinking orange juice—can be done with the intention and hope that it will be to the advantage of many that they may be saved.”

There are many tasks during my day that are less than lovely, tasks that make me feel terrible, but my prayer truly is that some how some way God will receive all honor and glory from everything in my life. I pray that I would continue to learn how to cherish the time He blesses me with as well as how to honor Him more with it daily. I trust Him to make something beautiful out of everyday.

Lupus Awareness Day

Lupus awareness day posts never go how I would like. I always have this awesome vision, but then life happens school gets hectic and Lupus ruins my plans.

Happy Lupus Awareness Day! Get your purple on to show support and raise awareness. Lupus awareness day is about educating people about Lupus and also celebrating those who battle the illness daily with courage. We can only have a future with NO Lupus if we KNOW Lupus. A little education goes a long ways.

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It is hard to know what to say because Lupus affects every detail of my life and those around me. Everyone I know with Lupus has been affected in different ways, but one thing is the same this illness has changed our lives forever. We are not solely define by Lupus, but we are reminded and impacted by Lupus every second.

Our normal as young women with Lupus is very different from healthy young women. Personally, I don’t view my life as abnormal. It’s not until I talk with a healthy friend that I remember I need to adjust the way I talk and that they don’t understand the medical terms I’m using. Having friends with Lupus has given me a sense of normalcy. We laugh, talk, and swap stories like any other twenty-something-year-old.

What is it like to live with Lupus? The symptoms can be overwhelming. It is a lot to take in for a healthy person. It is difficult to explain. Every day is different. For me living with Lupus means joint pain, fatigue, and sun sensitivity daily. Often I have rashes or hives, bruises, headaches, bladder pain, chest pain, and hair loss. No two cases are the same. Lupus is complex, making it difficult for health care professionals, caregivers, the support system, and the person battling Lupus.  With Lupus, the autoimmune system can attack anything.

Take a moment today to learn something about Lupus or talk to someone who battles Lupus, you will be surprised how much you can learn.