The Mental Torture of Medical Waiting Lists (& How I Learned to Cope)

The Mental Torture of Medical Waiting ListsWaiting.  Before this past year, I would have described waiting as boring, frustrating and draining.  Then I spent 12 months in pain, waiting for a specialist appointment, waiting for tests, and waiting for surgery.  After all that, I’m still waiting for an answer and a solution to my symptoms.  Now I would describe waiting as suffocating, crazy-making and excruciating.  Waiting can become a form of mental torture when your health, daily functioning and quality of life are at the mercy of hospital bureaucrats.

Exactly one year ago this month, I went to my family doctor because of an increase in pelvic pain.  Not only were my periods more painful, but I was experiencing debilitating cramp-like pain more days of the month then not.  My family doctor referred me to my OB-GYN for consultation at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.  I had to wait three months just for an appointment date.  Then, the appointment was rescheduled twice. The office assistant would not call me back, even to give me a rough estimate for when a makeup appointment might be rescheduled.  At one point I even broke down on the phone while leaving a message for the admin assistant. More than anything else, I felt helpless in the face of this mysterious pain that was making my day-to-day life so difficult, with no ability to control the outcome.

Finally, 5 months after the initial referral, I saw the specialist.  We decided a laparoscopy was the best course of action for diagnosis and treatment of suspected endometriosis.  Her assistant told me to call back in two months in order to book a surgery date.  When I called, she told me to call back in another two months.  I called back and left a message.  No reply.  Two weeks later, another message.  No reply.  During this time my pain had spiked significantly and was now difficult to manage, even with multiple pain medications.

I felt trapped.  If I tried to see a different doctor, it would take months for an initial appointment.  If I tried to even make an appointment with the same doctor, prior to the surgery, it would take months.  The pain was making it difficult to socialize, to accomplish day to day activities, to exercise, or to even go on a date with my husband.  I felt angry and anxious.  My mental health was deteriorating.

I’m not alone in this experience. Researchers have found the waiting period can significantly impact the health of patients.  Studies have consistently found negative effects in patients waiting for test results, ranging from adverse effects on recovery times, wound healing times, reduced immune defences, and worsening of side effects from medications.  Researchers hypothesize that these effects may be due to anxiety over test results, which is supported by the finding that waiting patients have increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Similar impacts have been seen in chronic pain patients waiting for treatment. The study concluded that waiting for longer than six months caused a reduction in quality of life and psychological wellbeing.

Finally, finally, I got the date for the surgery, two weeks beforehand.  It went smoothly enough.  They found and removed endometriosis lesions.  I struggled through the initial recovery.  One week later, the pelvic pain came back.  Same place, same feeling, same pattern.  Perhaps it is part of recovery, or perhaps the surgery wasn’t the solution.  Now, I have to make another appointment and – you guessed it –wait.

How you react to the stress of waiting for diagnosis or a test result may be partly determined by your personality characteristics.  One study found that a high need for closure -something I can definitely relate to- increases anxiety during the waiting period.  In contrast, if you have a high tolerance for uncertainty, you’re less likely to be anxious.  Do you tend to assume the worst?  This characteristic, which researchers called “defensive pessimism,” also increased waiting anxiety.  If you tend to assume things will work out (“dispositional optimism”), then you are less likely to experience anxiety. Constantly ruminating on the outcome of the test result during the waiting period also increases anxiety.

Interrupt the Flow of Negative Self-Talk

So what can you do you if you have certain characteristics that may increase your stress levels during a waiting period for a diagnosis, procedure or test result?  Firstly, I learned that it is important to interrupt constantly ruminating on the upcoming medical appointment. Try to be aware of your thought patterns and self-talk during this stressful period.  I try to regularly check-in with myself during the day.  If you notice that you are dwelling on the frustration of waiting, acknowledge it.  Then make a deliberate choice to return yourself to the present.  A few minutes of deep breathing or meditation may help to relax you and create space between you and these stressful thoughts.

Distract Your Mind (or, Your new excuse for binge-watching Netflix)

Distraction is another valuable tool.  Decide to focus on something that will occupy your mind rather than ruminating on a positive test result or unwelcome diagnosis.  This might be a good time to re- watch your favorite comedies, because who doesn’t need a good laugh?

Challenge Self-Judgement

When I find myself thinking about how long I have to wait for my next doctor’s appointment, or my frustration at the lack of answers, I find it really helpful to say to myself “OK, here are those thoughts again”.  I’m trying to be accepting of these thoughts, because it’s only natural to be frustrated and stressed in this situation.  But if there’s nothing I can do about it here and now, then I try to refocus my attention on whatever I have going on in the moment.

It’s a daily struggle to cope with the mental torture of the medical waiting list. Negative emotions are natural and experiencing them is not a failure to manage your feelings. That’s a lesson I keep re-learning. I try to see it as a question of what is the most helpful response to the negative emotions, rather than getting frustrated with myself for feeling down in the first place.

Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care

It’s very important to practice self-care and stress management during this time.  Activities that have been proven to reduce anxiety include yoga, exercise, meditation, guided visualization, walking in nature, journaling and deep breathing.  Personally I find regular meditation really helpful for my mental sanity.  During this time, it’s helpful to refocus on the fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle, like trying to get enough sleep, eating nutritious food and connecting with your social support system.

Here are few resources for staying present and de-stressing:

References:

Hoffman, J. (2012). The anxiety of waiting for test results. New York Times. Retrieved 10 Feb. 2017 from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/23/the-anxiety-of-waiting-for-test-results/

Lynch, M. et al. (2008). A systematic review of the effect of waiting for treatment for chronic pain. PAIN 136(1-2): 97-116. Retrieved 10 Feb. 2017 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304395907003442.

Markman, A. (2014). Waiting is the hardest part, but you can make it easier. Psych Today. Retrieved 10 Feb. 2017 from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201407/the-waiting-is-the-hardest-part-you-can-make-it-easier

“If It Was Me, I Would Just Give Up”: How Not to Compliment Someone Living with Chronic Illness

How Not to Compliment Someone Living with Chronic Illness

“You’re so strong. If it was me, I would just give up”

If you live with a chronic illness, you’ve heard this type of “compliment” over and over.  A well-intentioned friend, family member or colleague shakes their head at your everyday challenges, and says “I don’t know how you do it; if it was me, I would just give up and lie in bed all day“.  My stomach always twists when I hear these words.  I know it is meant as praise, to recognize the strength it takes to get through each day in spite of all the symptoms of chronic illness.  But if you say this comment to someone living with chronic illness, know that they will not feel flattered or pleased. When you express these sentiments, what you are communicating is that you don’t understand the nature of their daily struggle or how that comment invalidates their sense of worth. If you are a spoonie, I hope this post helps you find your own words to enlighten your friend or family member on how to compliment you. If you are someone who cares about a spoonie, I hope this might help you find a better way to express your admiration and encouragement.

“Where do you find the strength? I would just quit even trying”

 I frequently see social media posts by frustrated spoonies (people who live with a chronic illness), venting about how this type of comment makes them feel. It seems to be the most common way people try to praise spoonies. I think I am a stronger and wiser person after my experiences living with fibromyalgia. If my friends or family notice that change and want to recognize that fact, I wish they would say it as a positive about me, rather than frame it as a negative comparison on themselves. For example, I was discussing with my friend that I think I am coping with a recent setback in a healthier and more positive way than during the first years of my illness. A positive compliment from her would be something like “I think it’s amazing how you are just taking it one day at a time and staying positive even though I can see how difficult the situation is”. A negative comparison on herself would be “if it was me, I would just be wondering why the universe is conspiring against me – I could never see this in a positive light the way you do, it’s amazing.”

“It’s amazing that you even get out of bed every morning”

I’ve always struggled to respond when someone says something like this to me.  If I express a negative reaction, I’m afraid my friend will reply “I don’t understand, all I’m trying to say is that I think you’re great”. I never know how to put into words why, despite that intention, it makes me feel anything but great. I’m going to try to explain it here.

The simple reason that I don’t just give up and lie in bed all day is because that’s not a real option.  I don’t have the luxury.  It’s not a meaningful choice when you live with a condition that has no cure. This comment upsets me because it ignores the reality that I don’t choose to struggle through each day, I am forced to. The reason I don’t lie in bed all day (besides the fact that I would find it really uncomfortable) is not that I’m especially strong or heroic.  It’s because lying in bed all day would be mean giving up on surviving. At some point, you have to make a meal, take your kid to school, or have a shower – and you’re going to want to do that with the least amount of discomfort possible. Living necessarily means having to fight through all of my daily struggles.  That fighting spirit and strength, for me, is just the nature of living day to day.  I know perfectly well that if that same healthy friend who says “I would just give up” actually did develop a chronic illness, they would wake up every morning and try again, too.  Just like we all do.  Because we have to. I like to think that it’s human nature to survive, to put one foot in front of the other, and to keep on keeping on.

“I couldn’t face it day after day, I don’t know where you find the willpower to just get up and try again”

Beyond this, the main response most people living with chronic illness have to this form of praise is that they find it invalidating. While a life with an invisible illness or disability is challenging, the funny thing is, we still want to live it.  We still share love, have passions, make contributions, make art, and have dreams. Our lives are worthwhile and meaningful.  They are worth living.  Even with all the difficulties.  But when the main reaction to seeing what a day in the life of a person with chronic illness looks like is to say “I would just give up,” it invalidates the worth of living that life. It definitely is not a compliment! One person on social media wrote something like “so what, you think my life is so terrible that I should just curl up and die? thanks!” When I remember being healthy and non-disabled, I know that I was always amazed by people who were sick or handicapped but still vital and active-  and wonder whether I would be able to enjoy my life if I was in their situation. It’s a common reaction, but I think one that’s unhelpful to share. Instead, I hope the friends and families of spoonies will try to frame their compliments as positives about the person they care about, without any negative reference to themselves. Here are some more examples:

“I really admire the strength you show in trying all of these treatment options when I can see it isn’t easy”

“I think you showed a lot of grace under pressure when you experienced that setback”

“It took a lot of guts to pursue something you’re passionate about despite all of the recent challenges”

Mind Games: How I Cope During a Chronic Illness Relapse (Part 2)

 

Coping with chronic illness and fibromyalgia relapse using mindfulness and other mental strategiesIn my last post, I wrote about my fatigue relapse last winter and my present pain progression this winter. My aim in writing these two posts is to share how I cope with illness setbacks, using ‘mind games’, in the hope they help someone else experiencing a relapse.

In essence, what I have learned is that I have the power of choice over what I focus my attention on each day. Through challenging negative patterns of thinking, being present, taking in the good, and pursuing an enjoyable hobby, I try to emphasize what enriches my life and let go of what doesn’t. Of course there are always bad days and I don’t believe any amount of positive thinking frees us from ever experiencing difficult times. I personally have found, however, that changing my worldview has dramatically lessened the amount of suffering I go through during relapses and has improved my quality of life. In Part I, I discussed 1) challenging negative patterns of thinking and 2) cultivating presence.

3) Take in the Good: Are you more likely to remember compliments or criticism?  If you’re like most people, you pick the latter.  That is because the human brain has a built in “negativity bias”, which allows us to learn from and protect ourselves from bad experiences.[i] Unfortunately, it can also make us anxious, irritable and depressed.  One way to rewire your brain so that it takes positive experiences into account, as well as negative, is to be intentional about what Rick Hanson calls “taking in the good”.[ii] This is akin to the old adage to “stop and smell the roses”. The first step is to be mindful of positive moments (to notice the roses) – the taste of a good meal, sharing a laugh with a coworker or hugging your partner. Practicing mindfulness meditation can help with this part, but you can also just start with the intention to take in the good today.  Secondly, pause for 20-30 seconds and focus your attention on enjoying the experience, instead of moving on to the next thing (focus on how pleasant the fragrance of the roses is). Finally, let the positive experience sink into you.  You can do this by visualizing a warm feeling spreading through your torso or by intellectually recognizing that by doing this exercise you’re literally rewiring your brain to tilt towards positive experiences.  If you do this several times a day, you can change the neural pathways in your brain so that positive experiences are ‘registered’ more in your overall outlook on the day.  This practice has been really helpful for my mental and emotional health while I deal of the challenges of chronic illness, especially during a relapse.

4) Pursue an Enjoyable Hobby: After my fatigue relapse, I withdrew from school because it was too demanding. With time on my hands, I decided I wanted to learn something creative. I looked for a hobby that wouldn’t hurt my painful upper back, and eventually settled on modern calligraphy. Last winter, calligraphy practice was often the one activity I did on a daily basis. Seeing my improvement as I wrote out the letters was a bright spot during that difficult period. This time around, I am learning how to digitize my calligraphy, with the hope of opening an Etsy shop sometime next year. Having a sense of personal accomplishment means so much to my mental wellbeing. Dr. Caudill notes that “Some patients feel so bad about their pain and their lack of a ‘productive life’ that they … feel they don’t deserve any pleasure” (2002, p. 83).[iii] Not only is it ok to pursue enjoyable activities, it’s actually critical for your mental health and stress management, which are important components of any treatment regimen. I can’t encourage fellow spoonies enough to find a hobby or creative outlet to focus on during a relapse or flare. Other activities I enjoy include online learning courses (free!) and writing/blogging. In order to get the most out of an enjoyable hobby, be present during these activites. Take in the good moments when you finish a project or learn a new skill. And focus on recognizing what you were able to do today, rather than what you weren’t. Negative thinking habits aren’t changed more easily than any other habit, but routinely practicing positive mental habits is a powerful way to improve your quality of life during a relapse.

[i] http://www.rickhanson.net/take-in-the-good/

[ii] http://www.rickhanson.net/take-in-the-good/

[iii] Margaret Caudill. (2002). Managing Pain Before it Manages You, NY:     Guilford Press.

Mind Games: How I Cope During a Chronic Illness Relapse (Part 1)

Coping with a chronic illness by making smart choices. Focus on what you can enjoy, do and learn, in the now.

Around the holidays last year, I got a bad cold which left me exhausted. Of course, I assumed that once I got better, my (limited) energy would return. It didn’t. I spent months in a state of brain fog and fatigue. By the mid spring, the relapse gradually began to ebb, although I still haven’t returned to pre-virus levels. This holiday season, my endometriosis pain has increased substantially. Most likely, it is a progression of the condition. As I wait for a laparoscopy, I worry about how I will cope with this ‘new normal’, which is interfering with my sleep and restricting my movement to the length of my heating pad cord!

I felt completely overwhelmed at the outset of my fatigue relapse last year.  First, there was the emotional reaction to a new situation: anxiety about whether it was here to stay, frustration that life was about to get more difficult, and grief at the prospect of losing what abilities I still had.  Secondly, there was the practical challenge of figuring out how I would cope, like what new treatment options to try or how to manage my daily routines and responsibilities.  Lastly, I faced the impact of a relapse on my relationships, such as the increased caregiver burden on my partner, and feeling less able to be present with family and friends.

My relapse brought me back to the beginning of my illness journey and how I coped after my diagnosis. I was able to use many of the lessons that had been learned the hard way the first time around. Now that I’m facing a similar situation, yet again, I wanted to write them out for myself –  I hope they may help someone else out there too. In essence, what I have learned is that I have the power of choice over what I focus my attention on each day. Through challenging negative patterns of thinking, being present, taking in the good, and pursuing an enjoyable hobby, I try to emphasize what enriches my life and let go of what doesn’t. Of course there are always bad days and I don’t believe any amount of positive thinking frees us from ever experiencing difficult times. I personally have found, however, that changing my worldview has dramatically lessened the amount of suffering I go through during relapses and has improved my quality of life.

1) Challenge Patterns of Negative Thinking: About a year after my diagnosis, I participated in a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy program for pain management. One of the core parts of the program was learning to identify negative thinking traps, or ‘cognitive distortions’.  These are thoughts that “sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves”.[i] For example, if you think in “all or nothing” terms – a cognitive distortion – you might believe “if I can no longer pursue my career, I am a failure” (click here for a list of other cognitive distortions). A common belief among the participants in the group (me included) was: “Since I don’t work during the day, all I do is sit around the house wasting time”. The facilitator asked us to challenge this belief by making a list of all our daily activities. I was surprised to have a long list that included, for example, preparing my meals, going for a walk, reading a book, writing a blog post, doing my strengthening exercises, etc. I actually do quite a few things each day, and I rarely waste my time. Now I try to identify when a negative thought is actually just a distortion and then challenge it with the reality of the given situation.

2) Be Present: One of the most powerful tools that has helped me to cope with my illness setbacks is practicing mindfulness, usually defined as “non-judgemental, present moment awareness”.  I attended a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course at my pain clinic that introduced me to how cultivating presence could help me manage my pain.  Much of our anxiety comes from worrying about the future or reliving difficult moments from the past, rather than from anything going on directly in front of us at this moment in time.  Through mindfulness meditation, I have become better at recognizing when my mind as dwelling on the past or projecting into the future, and bringing my attention back to the present.  For example, I’m currently waiting on a laparoscopy to diagnose whether I have endometriosis and to reduce my pain levels.  I’m worried about what it will mean if they find out I do not have endometriosis, as well as whether the procedure will relieve my pain. Just thinking about it makes me anxious and upset.  However, I won’t know anything until after the procedure, which is several months away.  Worrying about it now only makes me suffer more.  It’s better for my quality of life if I return my focus to the next best thing I can do for myself in this moment.

[i] http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-cognitive-distortions/

Beginning Again: Living with the Ups and Downs of Life with Chronic Illness

 

My new article on Prohealth is about learning to relate differently to the inevitable ups and downs of life with chronic illness, through letting go, drawing on the inner strength all spoonies cultivate, and beginning again. 

Watching my goals, plans, and self-care routines careen out of control is sometimes harder for me to accept than the symptoms that come with a flare-up. Maybe it’s because I have always been a control freak, but the sense of helplessness, frustration and self-doubt that accompanies this situation is one of the most difficult aspects of living with fibromyalgia for me. This time, as I was venting about how it felt like my daily life had come tumbling down like a house of cards, a question occurred to me: What if the problem isn’t a failure to control or manage my schedule during a flare-up, but a failure to understand that living with chronic illness inevitably involves ups and downs?

My practice of mindfulness meditation has helped me find answers to this question. Renowned mindfulness teacher Sharon Salzberg writes that, in contrast to our conditioned belief that self-blame and fear of failure help us succeed, “ease in letting go and kindness in starting over is a lot more effective.”(1)

Finish reading here…  http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=29692

Holiday Giveaway!

holiday-giveawayAs part of the Chronic Illness Bloggers  network, I’m excited to participate in the first Holiday Giveaway!

The prizes donated by CIB sponsors (see below) are all focused on supporting people living with chronic illness, which is why I think the CIB giveaway is a perfect fit for this blog!

If you are interested in entering, please click here:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/dde15f7712/?

There are 11 Prize Packs in total, each worth between $400-600. Prizes included in the packs vary from an Organic Aromas aromatherapy diffuser, a free one hour health coaching session, the Gupta home study program on recovering from CFS/FMS, Fay Farm healing body lotions, and e-books written by fantastic chronic illness bloggers, among many others!

Please note that two packs ship to US addresses only, so any non-US winners who are randomly selected can choose a US address to ship to or forfeit the prize.

This giveaway is sponsored by Chronic Illness Bloggers. Prizes have been donated by the following:

 

Blog Round-up: Inspiring Posts about Living with Chronic Illness that I Read this Week

blog-roundup

For those of us who have a chronic illness, the best advice, information and insight on how to live with our conditions comes from the amazing community of bloggers. These writers share their health experiences, their research, and hard-earned wisdom with their readers. Personally, I have learned so much about how to manage my fibromyalgia and other conditions from reading chronic illness blogs. I want to share some of the most inspirational posts that I have read recently, focusing on living “skillfully well” with chronic illness by through self-care – physically, mentally, and emotionally. These aren’t all ‘success stories’; it’s just as important to be candid about the struggles of life with chronic illness as it is to celebrate the successes and silver-linings.

Chronic Mom: A Day in the Life of an Opioid Addict A powerfully honest account of trying to get through a normal, busy day in debilitating pain because of opioid rationing and stigma.

The Pain Companion Blog: Surviving the Holidays When You’re in Pain Tips include giving a firm ‘maybe’ to holiday plans. I’m going to remember that one!

Living with ME: Rest Day vs Bad Day This post talks about the importance of planning preventative ‘rest days’ to avoid crashing on ‘bad days’. It helps to distinguish the difference, especially for family/friends who may be confused why you need to take time out without having illness symptoms.

Lilac and Lyme: My Lyme Disease Story – The Journey to Diagnosis It is so important to raise awareness by sharing our illness stories. In Part 2 of her narrative, Lilac and Lyme shares the difficult route to getting diagnosed as she navigated a skeptical medical field and weighed difficult treatment options.

The Daily Manic: Stop and Discover Some New Dreams This post explores the positives of living a simpler life due to chronic illness, by discovering new passions, hobbies and creative outlets.

Chronically Whole: When You’re Out of Spoons The all too familiar experience of what it’s like to have no energy left. This post is about trying to celebrate the holidays with a young family and no spoons. Helpful tips included!

Hope you enjoy these posts and I will try to regularly share more links!

Is Acupuncture an Effective Tool for Your Chronic Pain Treatment Toolbox?

I recently wrote an article for New Life Outlook on the benefits of acupuncture for chronic pain, including different types of acupuncture you may want to consider:

http://chronicpain.newlifeoutlook.com/pain-relieving-acupuncture/

Acupuncture is the therapeutic use of very thin, hair-width needles to stimulate specific points on the body in order to reduce pain or disease and promote wellbeing. You may be thinking “But I hate needles; this sounds too painful!”

In my own experience, the needle insertion feels like a slight pinch, which disappears in a few seconds. If there is any discomfort, the acupuncturist will remove the needle.

After insertion, you usually cannot feel the needles. Occasionally, there may be a sense of warmth or heaviness around the insertion point. The needles are typically left in for 15-30 minutes while you rest.

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been used for over 3,000 years and is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In this medical system, health is understood as achieving balance between opposing forces (yin and yang).

Traditionally, essential life energy, called ‘qi’ (chee) is believed to flow along channels in the body called meridians, keeping yin and yang balanced. Acupuncture points are mapped along meridians — if the flow of qi is blocked, it causes pain and disease (imbalance).

Stimulating acupuncture points restores the flow of qi along the meridians, improving the health of the individual and restoring balance.

A Western Approach

Western medicine offers a different perspective on how acupuncture works. Scientific studies demonstrate that acupuncture points are often located on nerve bundles or muscle trigger points.

Acupuncture has been found to increase blood flow to tissues around the acupuncture point, promote healing of localized tissues, and affect the central nervous system. Some of the nervous system effects include down-regulating pain sensation, encouraging a relaxed brain state, and calming the autonomic nervous system.

However, some skeptics believe these findings only demonstrate a strong placebo response to acupuncture…

Day 9: Imagining My Ideal Day 

14947785_10154671330669254_7579095846543936242_nIt’s almost hard to imagine a perfect day when you live with chronic illness I don’t really let myself fantasize because I don’t want negative comparisons to get me down. This year, though, my husband and I agreed we need to put aside ‘to-do’ lists and have fun more often. I’ve started imagining day trips that we could enjoy together that are still manageable within my limitations. For this post,  I’ll imagine an ‘almost perfect’ day…

It would start with an unexpectedly great sleep, then a homemade breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup. I would put my phone away and have no demands on my time. I would spend the afternoon on a scenic drive with my husband to a beach or other beautiful outdoor spot. We’d walk in the afternoon sunshine and  then have a picnic.  After, on the drive home, we might discover a cute town or winery to explore. Maybe there would be a jazz festival or art exhibit to check out. Then we would find a neighbourhood restaurant for dinner. Finally, we would drive back to our place and curl up to watch an old movie or cozy mystery. During the day my body would keep pain to a minimum and my brain would not be foggy. I would fall asleep easily that night.

The funny part about my ideal day, besides the fact I’m 31 going on 70, is that it happens quasi regularly. We don’t always get to do all of those things, of course. But it reminds me that even with fibromyalgia I can enjoy my life the way I want to, even if it isn’t possible everyday and doesn’t happen exactly how I imagined it would.

The Little Engine that Could: My Intentions this Week #HAWMC Prompt

15016179_10154669145844254_2138113388259452599_o

I think I can…join in the WeGo writers’ challenge to post daily for the rest of the month!

I think I can…renew my meditation practice after getting off track because of a flare.

I think I can… write a new article this week on the power of beginning again when you live with chronic illness.

I think I can…try going dairy and gluten free for November to see if it helps reduce my endometriosis pain.

I think I can…finally get through the US election and never look back!

I think I can…recover from a neck spasm so I can get back to calligraphy and make my Christmas cards for the first time!

I think I can … make it out to see old friends in the next week.

I think I can … be grateful for the good things and experiences in my day- to-day life, despite the challenges of chronic pain and illness.

I know I can … catch up on my new and returning fall shows (my weekly cryfest This Is Us, quirky Sherlock mysteries on Elementary, and political Aussie thriller the Code).

I know I can… be aware of my self-talk. Challenge negative judgements about my ‘productivity’ and validate the importance of self-care.

I know I can… spoil my cat Lily. (No more than she deserves, as she would tell you).

I know I can … stick to my morning routine of stretching, meditating and eating superfood seeds.

I know I can…get out for a walk, most days of the week.

Thanks for the prompt, WeGo! It helps me feel positive to write out all these intentions, even though I have fatigue and brainfog today.