Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Positive Thoughts on Chronic Illness

Yesterday in my Chronic Illness/Chronic Pain Support Group, we talked about Managing Emotions.  Huge topic. One thing that I did was to have everyone take 5 Post-it notes, and on each one, write an emotion they have or have had related to their pain or illness.  I had a poster divided into 4 quadrants, labeled Mad, Sad, Glad and Afraid.  All emotions can fit into one of those emotions, or a combination of them.  I had everyone place their Post-it notes on the board wherever they thought they best fit.
We had no surprise when we saw that the fullest quadrant was Mad, followed closely by Sad and Afraid.  There were only 2 Post-its in the Glad quadrant.  Some people were surprised there were any in that quadrant at all.  Who would be glad to have chronic pain or illness?  What positive feelings could possibly come from being sick and hurting all the time?  One of the Glad words was mine, the other was from someone who I know from our local Sjogren's Syndrome Support Group which I co-lead.  Her word was 'surprised'.  She said she is surprised when she has times when she feels good and can do what she wants to do. I like her use of that word.  She could have used 'pleased', and that would have covered the basic feeling, but 'surprised' has another connotation to it. 'Surprised' includes an aspect of  an unexpected gift. When you are used to not feeling well, having a day when you do feel well is truly a most pleasant unexpected gift.
The Glad word that I contributed was 'grateful'.  That word has several meanings for me here.  I am grateful that at this point, my issues have settled down into manageability, and my pain is not constant.  Various parts hurt when I do various things, but I do have times during the day when I can pretend that nothing is wrong with my body.  The other way I am grateful is for how it has changed my life.  If I did not have pain and illness, I would likely be working full time, and not only would I not have time to write this blog and run my support group, but I likely would not have thought of doing these things.  I have a nice mix of things I do with my time, and my illness has allowed me the opportunity to do them.
As I write this, some other positive thoughts come to mind.  Because of my illness and pain, I have learned patience. I have learned mindfulness. I have had more time to devote to my art and to writing.   I have met many people I would not have met.  I have done some traveling (to the national Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation patient conferences). I have time to nap during the day if I need to, which I just did.  You probably didn't even notice I was missing for awhile between the last paragraph and this one.

1 comment:

  1. First I would like to thank you for writing this blog. It makes me think, use my brain (another part of my body that dosn't work the way it use to).
    I never thought about my issue (RSD) in that way
    before. Being glad or grateful for pain? NO! How? But after thinking about it for a while, I am glad and grateful for some of the things that I have learned because of the pain.
    If I didn't have all these years of experience with RSD, I never would have had the knowledge and courage to tell my husbands doctor that I thought he had the onset of RSD when he broke his foot back in 2002.
    The knowledge came from the research I had done for my own condition and from observing the parts of my body that were effected by the RSD.
    The courage comes from dealing with several doctors over the years. The ones that think that they are GOD-LIKE creatures who never make mistakes, believe that if they can't fix you then there is nothing wrong and it must be all in your head, the ones who talk down to you. Then there are the ones that think (and I have had them say to me) "Are you a doctor? Did you go to medical school? You can't possiably know anything medical". HE WAS ONE OF THOSE DOCTORS!
    I presented my idea and was very quickly and rudely shot down.
    We left his office and I took my husband to my doctor, a neurologist. There he was diagnosed with the onset of RSD and got the treatment that he needed. Because he was diagnosed early and got the correct treatment, he is fine today.
    When I married him, I wanted to share everything with him EXCEPT the RSD. I love him too much to watch him go through that.
    If I had been at the support group meeting I don't know where I would have put the other 4 Post-it notes but one would have been placed in the "Glad" section and would have been labled "GRATEFULL".