Chronic illness overwhelm.
While driving home from ED the other day I started to feel the chronic illness overwhelm. It's that feeling that comes from beginning to get a sense that you are starting to gain control of your health (and therefore life) and suddenly something happens and you realise that you really don't have that much control. The mountain peak (health nirvana) you thought you had reached was slipping away from you.
Sitting in the car I reminded myself that setbacks weren't my whole story, just part of the story. Even though that day I was exhausted from the effort it took to carry a chronic illness day after day, it didn't reflect my full health journey.
This year I felt like I had gotten off to a great start. I'd just finished almost five weeks of vacation and most of it had been spent disconnected from technology. I was refreshed and ready for the new year. I had worked out that my migraine medication wasn't working effectively - it was helping to reduce the severity of a migraine but not stopping a migraine (sometimes they were lasting up to 14 days). So I had started the process of getting my medication reviewed. A great step forward in improving the long term quality of my health.
Skip forward to this week when I ended up in ED because I acknowledged early into a new migraine that my medication was not working and I was heading for a really bad night (great insight). And with an overnight ED stay and stronger medication, I'm was hoping this migraine was going to be short lived.
When I was tired and in pain, I was discouraged by my health issues. Instead of the 'rat race', its the 'health race' and I don't feel like I can win, or even finish. But then I remembered that my health story is more complex than one bad night. There are many great moments that have gone before this day, and many good decisions that lead to me being at the ED. It's important that we embrace who we are and understand how best to manage our health to maximise our individual quality of life. It will be different for each of us.
If you are having a bad health day, don't just focus on today; remember how far you have come as you work towards improving the quality of your health for the long term.
Photo by Talitha Martin-Khan in Private Collection