Chronic illness is difficult at times. While trying to do normal things like work, family, paying bills, and cleaning the bathroom; sometimes all I can do is sit and breathe. Hours and days can go by like this, sometimes even weeks. For example, I found out I had the flu a couple weeks ago, had a little pneumonia scare, started getting a little better, and then got worse again. The antibiotics seem to be helping, and I’m back on the dreaded prednisone, but it’s a necessary evil to keep my oxygen levels normal.
In my mind, I’ve had a minor set back. I’ve been sick a couple of weeks, but the bright side is I don’t have pneumonia and I stayed out of the hospital. In my time-losing, hypoxic haze my wife, children, friends, family, and co-workers see a different story. Before this two weeks, I was having allergy problems. Before that, I picked up RSV from my 2 year old, before that I had some viral thing from my daughter, etc., etc., etc. Yesterday I sat on our front porch for half an hour. It felt like a scene from a movie where hospital patients are wheeled outside for “fresh air time” dressed in pajamas and wrapped in robes, covered with blankets. Last night changing the sheets on the bed left me panting for 30 minutes until my wife reminded me to take some meds.
Here are some things I try to do to stay functioning.
Buy stuff online – leaving the house, driving a car, and walking up and down aisles can sound impossible at times. If I notice we’re low on supplies, I’ll hop onto Amazon and see if I can find a decent deal. This past week I bought 24 rolls of paper towels, a case of toilet paper, a giant box of trash bags, and a few other necessities.Prime shipping gets it to the house quickly, and Paribus helps me save money if prices drop.
Clean up at least one thing a day – cleaning the house can sound exhausting, but doing at least one thing a day helps you stay on top of things. Pick up some toys, do a load of laundry and put it away, clean the toilet, load the dishwasher, etc. Seven small tasks during the week can be much more manageable than one big task on a bad day.
Find some hobbies – I love watching movies. It’s my favorite art form, and it helps me be social. It gives me something to talk about with friends. I also enjoy growing my beard, making things from paracord, and cooking. Find something that works for you. Read some books, take an online course, keep your mind limber.
Stay in touch – don’t cut yourself off from the world. Find people to talk to either in person or online. You’re not alone. There are others like you out there. Others can learn and benefit from your knowledge and experience.
Get up and move – don’t stay in bed all day. Get up and take a shower, walk to the kitchen, go get the mail. Don’t overdo it and know your limits, just make sure you’re physically active in some way.
This is by no means everything, and I fall off the rails more often than I’d like to admit. You just have to keep trying. There are also going to be people in your life that bring you down intentionally and unintentionally. Try not to be discouraged. Most people mean well, they’re just ignorant.