Working With Chronic Illness
This site focuses on giving people with chronic health conditions the strategies, tools and insights they need to thrive in their work and their lives.
Healing and Energy, which comes first?
If you've been reading this blog for the past 9 months, you know that I had a bad health setback. Last August, I had a bad fall which left me with broken ribs and a banged up shoulder. It took months to figure out the cause/treatment of on-going pain which turned out was a torn rotator cuff. Meanwhile, blurry vision in one eye led to a new diagnosis in my disease list, Possner Schlossman. I had a history of eye disease and had been up close with pain. And, as always happens, these things seem to trigger the multiple sclerosis symptoms -- banding, fatigue, etc.
Whine, sigh. I 'd been living this life for 30+ years in which my health could get really bad. But, I was Ms. Optimism holding onto the faith that I'd deal with whatever came up.
The thing is, this time felt different. I'm turning 60 in a few months and maybe that plays a part. But the physical injuries/raw pain + another chronic issue left me off kilter - - out of balance. After months of physical therapy and two cortisone shots, the pain was getting worse. I wondered -- maybe the years of illness were catching up and my body wasn't as resilient.
I couldn't find anything resembling my usual sense of hope. Even when I "Focused" (do you know about focusing??? It's better than therapy and meditation -- ask me about it) with my Focusing partner, I couldn't find it. OR resilience. Funny thing . . . hope and resilience aren't something anyone can see in you. I just knew it wasn't there.
When my business slowed with several clients ending and no new ones in the pipeline, I didn't look for new work projects as I typically do. The juice just wasn't there. Do you know what I mean?
I told myself I wasn't depressed. I was realistic. Really?
About two months ago, I went back to my physical therapist to see if he could help me. I didn't think it would help but he suggested another exercise to strengthen my motion. I literally had to push myself to add it to my exercise plan. Desperate, I also started doing the Tai Chi form after 35 years for my balance. Hmmm, maybe there's still some place called hope in there.
Whatever the reason, within a few weeks the pain changed and improved. Each time I did the new shoulder exercise, my shoulder seemed to move better. As the pain receded, physical and psychic energy built.
Maybe you recognize this syndrome: I'd gotten used to feeling lousy and it was hard to redefine myself and remember that even if I was a little tired, I could probably push through it. There were many days I had to remind myself that I was getting better. I could push myself harder again -- that I had to do it.
Slowly the nerve pain and the "banding" that came on with the shoulder pain, disappeared. A month ago, I cooked for several hours at a time over a few days, something I hadn't done since last summer. I could walk the dogs again without worry if they pulled. This past weekend, I gardened hard for two days in a row. I'm planning to kayak again if it ever gets above 60 here. These were all on my list of things I thought I'd have to let go. Not now.
Funny thing, I have an abundance of new clients and prospects in the pipeline and some really interesting projects, even a speaking gig that requires travel. And I'm looking at this with excitement. Amazing.
I didn't think I'd feel this good in my body again. I'm not sure I feel the same resilience, though, that's for sure. Maybe that's part of what my Dad used to call the "aging process". But it sure is good to know that my ability to heal hasn't left completely.
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Building on her experience living with chronic illnesses, including multiple sclerosis and ulcerative colitis, Rosalind Joffe founded the executive career coaching practice, cicoach.com. Dedicated to helping others with chronic illness develop the skills they need to succeed in their careers, Rosalind firmly believes that living with chronic illness does not preclude living a full and successful life