Having chronic illness presents unique daily challenges. One day I can feel great and the next week it can be hard to want to do anything. The unpredictable nature makes it tough to truly make plans because I just never know exactly how I am going to feel. Like many others in my situation I usually just push through and do the best I can each and every day and rest on my days off.
When the pandemic began I have to admit I was afraid. Being an immunocompromised healthcare worker that worked in a walk in clinic was terrifying. The media was not helping things at all-every channel I turned too seemed to be announcing doomsday.
Not only was I afraid , many around me were either scared or angry. Emotions have definitely been on edge and being a provider people were sharing those concerns with me daily.
I have always considered myself overly compassionate and empathetic. So experiencing my own concerns along with those I came in contact with was definitely tough.
Stress is a trigger for my own illnesses and during this time I have had a worsening of symptoms. Self-care had to be a priority.
I would like to share some things I have found helpful to my healing during this time in hopes it may help you as well.
When I ask my patients if they are drinking enough water- the answer from all of them is almost always yes. They say things like “I drink all day” when in reality most of us do not get enough water at all.
The general consensus is that most healthy adults need to drink half of their weight in ounces every day or at least 64 ounces.
Now I myself struggle BIG TIME with this! I have to literally remind myself daily to drink which sounds so silly right?
I was like everyone else who thought drinking coffee and beverages other than water was acceptable- what I didn’t realize is a lot of these beverages were having the exact opposite effect- instead of hydrating my body they were dehydrating my body and giving me a false sense of accomplishment in what I’ve drunk for the day.
Chronic dehydration can have a devastating and cumulative affect on the body. I love how Dr. Tim O'Shea breaks it down in this article and usually have my own patients read it. Hydration and Dehydration this article really does a great job explaining how the body absorbs water and why it takes so long to notice a difference.
2. When exposure is unavoidable, share basic facts about what happened at an age-appropriate level. In situations where kids see things first hand, or if they internalize scary stories, Peace & Calming is a good oil to help them return to a state of peacefulness.
3. Reinforce that you will do all you can to keep them safe, and model healthy coping habits like meditation or prayerful gratitude. Seedlings Calm can help kids wind down and practice short meditations or prayers.
Hope this is helpful, and I'd love to hear any tips you might have!
At first glance you may not picture someone with chronic illness or autoimmune disease as the model student for natural living. The two just don’t seem to go hand in hand.
When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I was a breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping mama. I preferred going to the chiropractor over my family physician. I spoke with other natural minded mamas. I was a part of that circle.
My youngest daughter was about 19 months old when I was diagnosed and enjoyed her "mommy milks" and was not ready to wean. My Rheumatologist did not understand what the big deal was, and why I was prolonging treatment that would ease my suffering. In her eyes my daughter was 19 months old at the time and should have been just fine with stopping our breastfeeding sessions. Starting treatment meant I would have had to immediately wean my daughter, as the treatment could harm her. It was a very difficult position to be in.
It was at that time I started to investigate root causes of autoimmune disease. I joined groups that discussed how to treat my RA naturally. I was going to DO THIS. I experimented with different diets that eliminated foods like sugar and gluten and dairy. I took supplements and tried and tried some more- and made it another 8 months.
When my daughter was around 27 months old I could barely walk. My ankles hurt so bad. I remember the night when I was tearfully nursing her, knowing I had to start treatment as I was not getting better with dietary changes, or anything else I was trying at the time.
I had to “cold turkey” wean her- meaning-we just ended it. The guilt that came along with that was two-fold. I felt like I failed her and I felt like I failed myself. That was when the grief came. The grief over ending my breastfeeding relationship like that. I should have mentioned that right before I was diagnosed I suffered a miscarriage, so I was also grieving that I was ending my pregnancy journeys with a loss. Just so much grief but mostly the grief over the loss of my “healthy, crunchy self”.
Once I started treatment I felt strange in those “natural” groups I had been in. We were not allowed to discuss medications so I felt really alone during this time. I still really loved learning about natural living. I still wanted to support my body with the foods that could nourish support healing. I still wanted to learn about oils and how they worked- I still felt part of that circle.
I love that I have been able to incorporate my love for natural living by educating others on the toxins in their home that can contribute to illness. Through the use of non-toxic products and essential oils- I've been able to maintain a sense of control with what enters my home, with what goes ON my body and my Children's bodies. I am slowly becoming a DIY mama and I love it.
This has all given me great joy and has allowed me to continue in my love for all things crunchy, except now I call myself 3’4’s crunchy.