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Today is a rest day for me. I have not yet turned into Wonderwoman even though, I was beginning to act as if I thought I had.
It occurred to me that all my readers and friends who have autoimmune diseases or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome would benefit from a discussion about how to handle those wonderful times we have a new regimen of supplements or pharmaceuticals that are working for us. If you are anything like me, you want to make up for lost time and do all the things you have been missing. Or, you may decide to use those muscles that feel better and are getting stronger to jump into a thorough deep housecleaning. Perhaps, you are returning to social interaction that you had backed away from, because you were too fatigued or depressed.
All the above is understandable and a pretty normal reaction, especially to those of us that were by nature extremely social creatures with a desire to be with family, friends, and acquaintances. However, have you ever heard that phrase "too much of a good thing?" Please be aware, I am not here to dampen your enthusiasm. Keep that enthusiasm. How wonderful to feel well enough to be enthusiastic about life! That is a gift.
However, I am here to say, "Listen to your body." If your body says it is tired, "Rest!" I had a friend last week that was concerned I had overdone after a friend's two day visit. That concern was well-warranted, because I had spent several days preparing a little more heavily than I may have during a normal week. Even though I tried to be cautious, I found it hard to leave company and rest, or have a little quiet. The thing is I was having so much fun, I was like a kid in a candy shop that does not realize too much of a good thing can lower your immune system. Then, I piled on something else that week: I opened up a memory foam mattress pad that off-gassed in my house, which I had not looked up to see what chemicals they used to make these things. That kind of tipped the balance for me, but I was not ready to admit it.
To top that off, I started running out of vitamins, but due to me thinking I did not have enough money, I thought I had to wait to order them. Oops! I was wrong. So here is another puzzle piece to what sets off Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients. We need our vitamins. And now, we have had several days of weather change and darker days. My body has not liked fall weather changes, but I forgot. The puzzle pieces were finally fitting together, but I was still not ready to give an inch, since getting back to my strict regimen helped the burning fibromyalgia pain, and I was able to get up for my dental appointment. Last night, I went to choir rehearsal and I did not leave when my body said, "Enough already, go home."
Last night that phrase, "Pride cometh before the fall", became very real to me. I was letting my pride get in the way. I fell into the old pattern of worrying about what people would think. I wanted to show them how healthy I was getting, so I did not do what my body said, even though my husband and I had decided that I would leave choir rehearsal when my body got too tired. Or, I would just stop singing and listen. I realized my mistake when I got home, so then I thought about how to remedy the situation.
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What you do after our body gets healthier matters. One cannot fall into old patterns of "shop until I drop" or not getting enough sleep. Just because your body feels better does not mean you have stopped being sensitive to chemicals in the air or food ingredients. You may feel normal, but your body will remind you when you have gone too far. Healthy bodies do the same thing before illness. Healthy bodies are designed to let people know when they are feeling pain, when they have a fever, when they have eaten too much, or when they need to sleep. Many people who have endured chronic illnesses trained themselves to push through the pain or to do things they did not feel like doing because they had to. However, nobody should do this on a regular basis.
Therefore, I would like to suggest a few basic tenets to us getting healthier autoimmune/chronic illness folks:
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- Don't push the envelope. The work will still be there tomorrow.
- Do you have a new business or job? You can learn it and grow it, the same way you got your house clean: baby steps.
- Break each goal or large plan into small, specific steps. The principal works for healthy people too. In fact, that is how I raised a family and went back to college. I studied and read my materials, approached each class project in small steps. And, by breaking things down into doable steps, I aced most of my classes. I even did well in classes I thought I might not do well in.
- Do you need a pajama day? Guess what. It is not a sin to have a pajama or yoga pant day. Everyone needs a day off. If you want to do this on your day off or while you are working at home, I'm certainly not judging you. So, do not judge yourself. Okay?!
- Your body. Listen to what your body is saying and figure out what you have done differently. Do it before you fall into a relapse. Is your brain feeling foggy? Are you dropping things at choir rehearsal instead of feeling alert (me)? Your brain is trying to tell you to "Stop! Listen to me." Did any of you ever watch "Lost in Space?" Your brain is shouting, "Warning, Warning, Warning."
- Weather Changes Did you respond to weather changes before you felt better for 3 or 4 months in a row? Do you really think you are going to stop having bodily responses to weather changes now? I am talking to me too, and this is how I am handling it. It's darker, so I am going to sit in front of my light for people that have SAD. If I have to, I am going to turn on another light to make the room brighter. Barometric Pressure is not something I can change, but I Can take my antihistamine for fall allergies, rinse my nose out with NeilMed Sinus Rinse, and I can take Mucinex to thin my respiratory track secretions.
- This too shall pass. Remember that if a treatment has been working well, it is time to figure out what you might be doing differently. Or, maybe there is something in the treatment that can be decreased or increased according to need. If you cannot figure it out, than you should get in touch with your medical provider.
- Rest and Relaxation that will nourish your inner self and revive you is a good thing. For some this is reading a good book. For others, it is a stroll on a fall day, listening to relaxing music, turning off the electronics in the house, or soaking in the tub. Do what your body can handle. Do not compare yourself with other people.