not miss christmas

How to Not Miss Christmas This Year and Truly Enjoy the Holiday.

Tomorrow is the 1st of December so I can officially start “Christmas-ing”! It’s our own little rule that we wait until December to start, so we’re on our way…chronic illness christmas

Getting through Christmas can be daunting when you have any chronic illness. And one of the biggest problems for me is that I love Christmas! I love the decorations, the shopping, the parties, the ballet, the tree, going to church….everything. Just everything Christmas. But now that has all changed. I cannot do all those wonderful things anymore. So for me it’s a little bittersweet.  I simply do not have the physical stamina to do all the activities and I get mentally bogged down and depressed because I miss Christmas. Sometimes literally. So far, I have spent two Christmases in the hospital, and I don’t intend to let that happen again.

I know that some of you aren’t that into it and this season is just another thing you have to get through. But others, like me,  are all about everything Christmas. Either way, I’ve put together the best tips that I’ve been using to not just get through Christmas, but to relish it.

chronic illness christmas

Slow Down. Plan it Out.

I’m sure you’ve never heard that one before. I hate it too. I used to be a mad woman…dashing out after work to shop, decorating everywhere, or baking late at night.  Lots of parties. Lots of wine. Lots of wrapping gifts last minute. It was total Chaotic Christmas Fun!

I can no longer do that. All the normal things now require rest before and after and because planning is the key for me, it means I have to decline some things too. I hate that but if I don’t I’ll miss Christmas altogether. Fair trade I guess. Here’s what I try to do:

The Parties

Aside from the planning and pacing we have to do, I do parties one of two ways:

First are the parties where you know people well; family or close friends.

  • My family Christmas is a huge all day event, lots of commotion and kids running everywhere. I have a big family and we tend to get a little crazy. Over the years it was getting increasingly difficult for me to go. And it finally reached the point where I started having so much anxiety over it, I could hardly get there. Then one year I didn’t go at all. I will never let that happen again.chronic illness christmas
  • So the next year I went for about half of it, but I didn’t like it…missed too much fun stuff. But there was such a simpler solution: the year after that, about half way through the party, I went into my brother’s bedroom and took a nap. It’s not like they don’t know I’m sick or anything so I don’t know why I didn’t do it before, but this way I only miss maybe 1/2 hour or so. It worked out perfectly. When you’re with this group you know you can take a break. They understand. And you don’t have to lose out.

Office/Cocktail Parties

  • I use the movie star approach. (I do not think I’m a movie star, just for the record). This is for people that don’t really know all the complexities of your illness. You make a stunning appearance. Mingle and talk and truly enjoy yourself and your friends.  Then leave.
  • A little short, I know,  but you get to see everyone, have a little fun and you still get to take part in Christmas. In an effort to be polite, I usually say that I had two parties on the same night, and I couldn’t say no to either one and that’s why you have to leave early. I know lying is bad but it would be impossible to explain to everyone that I don’t feel well and why, etc. So off I go.

Shopping

  • I call it the “Fun, Funny and Happy Christmas Shopping Trip”. I like the busy stores and Santa at the mall, but rather than dragging myself through 40 stores and ending up exhausted, I go out twice  ( maybe three ) times. Once with my mom and sister and once with my son. We keep it light and funny, laughing and joking around but not really getting much shopping done. It’s more about enjoying the experience, spending time together, and admiring the beautiful shop windows.
  • So what about the real shopping? One word. Internet. For me , it’s a godsend. Everything delivered to my door. Of course it’s not much because I’m living on SSI now but that brings me to another good point about shopping.

Dollar store.chronic illness christmas

Sounds tacky, right? But honestly you can find some pretty cool stuff there if you really look. I managed to do it and was happy with what I found for everyone.

One More Shopping Idea

If you’re having a hard time figuring out what people want try shopping with one category for everyone. One year I chose books as the category. Every person on my list got a book that was tailored to their liking. It was easier for me and they were all pretty pleased. Other categories you might try could be sweaters, something for the car, kitchen gadgets and so on. Get creative.

Getting The House Festive

Here’s where I invite my son, his girlfriend and maybe one other to come over for pizza and spiffy up the house leaving it beautifully decorated.chronic illness christmas My husband has no choice; he lives here already. Lol. I know pizza might sound weird, but there is no way I can cook a meal for everyone and decorate. So pizza it is. The house is beautiful, and we have such a blast doing it. And of course, with the help, I’m not knocking myself out trying to do it on my own.

Playing Hostess?

I would not do this without a lot of help from friends and family. It can be done though, but I generally steer away from it. It’s one of the things I have to give up, but it’s ok because I have so many other things I get to do.

Baking

chronic illness christmasI cut a LOT out. I make simple cookies and scones. When I make cut-out cookies I take a knife and cut out diamond shapes so I don’t have to keep rolling and re-rolling. I also spread out the baking over two or three days instead of doing it all in one.

Important things not to forget

  • Set aside some special time for your spouse. I think this is so important. Everything gets busy and chaotic and sometimes we miss the beauty of Christmas with the one person we should be sharing it with.
  • Read the real story of Christmas.chronic illness christmas
  • Of course, if it’s for you… go to church! Faith is a powerful thing.

So, I cut down a little on the parties and the baking. I enlist help. I use the internet. And I manage to get some good presents at good prices and I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on that much. Getting just a taste of everything makes it feel like your completely wrapped up in the season but at the same time your not making yourself sick. It seems like a fair compromise to me.

 

Happy Christmasnot miss christmasnot miss christmas

-Kate

 

How to Get Through Sick Days…Wonderful Wednesdays: Tips and Guides

 

Get through sick days

Like it or not, we all have sick days and  flare ups. On those days not only is it extremely difficult physically but mentally as well. Here are a few tips to help you through.

It is vital that you

  1. Stay hydrated! Take a tiny sip of something every 10 minutes if you have to but you must not get dehydrated. You can even count popsicles and slushies…that works too!
  2. Stay nourished. If you can, use your freezer meals or a crockpot to keep up strength with good healthy food.
  3. If it is difficult to eat, try nutrition rich drinks such as Boost Plus, or any version thereof.

As much as you can you should:how to get through sickdays

  1. Rest! And rest some more. Don’t try to overdo it. Your body is working hard enough.
  2. Get outside. Sunshine and fresh air (if you have it) are wonderful to boost mood and make you feel better.
  3. Resist the urge to take on big chores as much as they need to be done. Try small tasks you can do sitting down. I have a list here to inspire you.
  4. Pace yourself as best you can. Find some helpful tips here.
  5. Play. Games on your laptop, board games with your kids, etc. It’s good to distract yourself and have some fun.

Get some Relief:

  1. A hot bath or shower soothes aches and pains. Herbal baths can be especially helpful.
  2. Heating pads or ice packs can help with pain.
  3. I know it’s hard but try to think about things you’re grateful to have. Shifting your mindset really can do amazing things. Once you get going it will improve your outlook tremendously.
  4. Take break through pain meds. Forget about the opioid epidemic, don’t feel guilty.  If you need them use them. But be responsible too.
  5. The most important thing is to know that this will pass. Better days really are ahead.  Take good care of yourself, know that you’re not alone and better days are coming.

I hope these tips and ideas are helpful for you when you’re feeling down.

-Kate

sticky notes everywhere

Sticky Notes Everywhere, Habits, and Positivity (is That a Word?);)

Sticky notes. I love them. My whole house is covered in sticky notes. Well not quite, but there’s a lot of them. They’re pretty helpful to me because…well I’m not exactly the most focused person you’ll ever meet. My mind tends to wander and I’ve always got things popping up in my head. Even when I’m in the middle of a completely different conversation. So you can imagine how hard it is for me to try to stop a bad habit or start a new routine. Sticky notes are awesome for that. That’s why I keep them everywhere.

Changing Habits

Now here’s a surprise for you: it takes 66 days to make a new habit automatic. I know, I know everyone and everywhere it says 21 days…only three weeks! That doesn’t sound bad.  Apparently, they lied. So now they’re telling us 66 days.  Sixty-six!  That’s 2 whole months! But the good news is that adding something fresh and healthy, like eating more fruit or moving more, makes you feel good, so you’re more likely to stick with it.

With me I’m just likely to completely forget..I mean like 30 seconds after someone tells me something. (A little brain fog going on here?) That’s why I love my notes. You should try it for adding healthy things like vegetables. I have a note on the fridge that says “Grab a Veggie Sometime Today”. And I do it. And since we have a whole list of things that we are supposed to be doing now with our chronic illnesses we might as well have some fun with it, right?

                                    Not Fun

sticky notes everywhereSure you can go the Play Store and get apps like Habit Bull for your phone, but I never stuck to them. I don’t want my phone permanently attached to my hip. Every single time I do something that I should tick off on that list I don’t want to take the time to start up my app and x something off. It’s too much fiddling around. Sticky notes are constant reminders, but a little looser than the apps I’ve found. They’re more generalized and that gives me more encouragement because I’m more relaxed. Plus you can write them any way you want: instead of “Remove Boots” I can write “do you live in a barn? Take of you boots nitwit!” Ah…much more satisfying.

My Way  (pssst really you should try it :0)

I got this whole idea from a website called flylady.net. You just gotta love her. I found her when I was desperately trying to start a system to keep my house in order. I’m a bit of a messy person. What she does is to have daily tasks to do and then works in different “zones” each week. She advised starting your morning routine by using sticky notes to walk through each step of your morning routine. OK, so I just went a little bananas with her idea. I wish I could use her whole system now, but I just can’t keep up when I apply it to the whole house. It’s a wonderful system, but around here only the bare minimum is what gets done. But, hey, that’s another change that we have to live with I guess.

Doing It

 

Anyhow here are some ideas for your sticky notes to eat healthier, sleep better and all kinds of other stuff:

In the Kitchensticky notes everywhere

  • on fridge: Eat Your VEGGIES
  • on fridge: grab some FRUIT, not an eclair
  • for cupboards: GRAINS over cookies!!

By your Entryway

  • Stay outside longer this time
  • Bring some water or a piece of fruit
  • Walk instead of driving (for short distances, and only if you’re able of course)

Bedroom

  • Make your bed (it’s nicer at night to get into)
  • on TV: Turn Me Off at least 1 hour before you go to sleep
  • or on TV: Don’t turn me on til morning 🙂

Bathroom

  • Here just put a list of some things you think are important to do each night, the list is there to make sure you include them all. Soon they’re a habit, nice and relaxing and you don’t need your smiley little note anymore. Things might be:
  • Wash face
  • Put on cream/lotion
  • Eye cream
  • Brush and braid hair, etc etc

So that’s just a few ideas but you can think of 100 more to suit you better. Get bright bold colored ones if that fits your mood and style or soft pastels if that’s your thing. Make them happy notes too. Draw on them, use silly phrases, it’s ok to be a little goofy. Adding a little bit of joking around is sometimes the only thing that keeps me happy. We have a lot of weight on our shoulders, I feel it all the time. So if we have to make all these changes then we might as well play with it. So go and have fun with some sticky notes!  And learn those good habits, your doctor will be happy too! (See? we can share happiness too.) LOL

Kate

pacing yourself

Pacing Yourself with Chronic Illness

 

PACING YOURSELF

pacing yourselfI know I know we’ve all heard it before, pacing yourself throughout the day is a must in order to get through it. But how do you pace yourself so its truly effective? I want to share how I do it with you, I hope you find it helpful.

  1. Determine your fatigue level for the day
  2. Adjust your to-do list accordingly
  3. Prioritize with most important at the top ( I use the basket system, I’ll show you in an upcoming post!)
  4. Focus on one thing at a time
  5. If possible do it sitting down ( I have mopped my kitchen floor this way LOL)

When you start feeling wiped out:pacing yourself

  • sit down
  • lean back
  • take long slow breaths
  • drink some water

Next, decide if you can finish or not. If you can’t try these:)

  1. Take a coffee nap -drink a cup of coffee and nap right after for about 20 minutes. When you wake up is right around the time the coffee takes effect.
  2. Do 10 minutes of quiet meditation
  3. Take a big nap (no amount of time specified) just depending on how you feel
  4. Lay down for an hour and distract/amuse yourself with a book, TV or maybe some word games,etc

After you rest:

Now you can decide if you can get back to that to-do list or not. Hopefully the top things are already done, and maybe you can get the rest too. To give you even more boost throughout the day you should be:

  • snacking healthy… a chunk of cheese, broccoli florets, nuts, etc.
  • drink something…vitamin water, plain water, soda water
  • diversion….listen to radio or TV or maybe a book on CD while you work
  • Rest…you have to rest in between things; sitting for 5 minutes after sweeping the floor is just fine and not lazy. We can’t push ourselves too hard.

Also helpful for pacing:

  1. Know your peak hours and try to work within them. Sometimes that’s not possible I know, but maybe you can squeeze a few things in.
  2. You must know your limits. When you have any type of chronic illness, over doing it is just going to make matters worse. You don’t want to end up in bed for a week
  3. Have an emergency back up plan on days you can’t do anything. Get out your freezer and instant meals and have your spouse and kids chip in with a bare minimum chore (like the dishes?) It’s just to keep things afloat for a while. If you’re on your own just rinse the dishes. They are very patient. They will wait for you. I promise:)

So please tell me how you pace yourself throughout the day? Do you have any tips or ideas? I would love to hear from you.

Kate

pacing yourself

 

bed sandwich easy breakfast chronic illness

The Bed Sandwich

bed sandwich easy breakfast chronic illnessWhat in the world is a bed sandwich? Simply put, it’s just a PB&J sandwich I keep next to my bed. Well, more like a brown bag lunch kind of thing. Why? Because mornings are usually the hardest time of day for me. Especially when I’m sick. I know it sounds ridiculous, but dragging myself downstairs to just make a simple bowl of cereal is on the next to impossible list quite often. And you can just forget about bacon and eggs. That’s for dinner when I’m doing better! ????

Silly…but it works

This way as soon as I get up I have an instant “breakfast in bed”.  Kind of. Made by me. Minus the little vase with a flower. Oh well.

But seriously, I wrap up a sandwich, maybe a piece of fruit or some nuts and I grab a bottle of some kind of drink that doesn’t need refrigeration. Vitamin water is my favorite. It can be any sandwich you like, but mine have the PB on both sides and the J in the middle. No soggy sandwiches.

When morning comes I can get something in me with zero effort. It makes it easier to  down my meds and the food gives me energy to get started.

Bed Sandwich

My husband,who already thinks I’m a little eccentric anyway, dubbed it the ‘bed Peanut Butter and jelly sandwich easy breakfast chronic illnesssandwich’ and it stuck. But goofy as it may be my little brown bag lunch/breakfast/bed sandwich has been one of the best ideas I’ve had throughout this whole adventure. It has kept me from being sick a lot and let’s me get going soon and easier. I like easy.