Posts Tagged ‘invisible illness’

Life with Pandysautonomia

September 22nd, 2014 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

As a blogger it only makes sense that I am also a blog reader. Occasionally I find a blogger that makes me sit and read while mumbling, “Seriously, she nailed it, that is exactly how I feel!” Well that is exactly how I feel about Rach from The Chronic-Ills of Rach. Take a second to read Rach’s 30 Things About My Illness and then head over to her blog and check her out!

 

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

1. The illness I live with is: Pandysautonomia

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2012

3. But I had symptoms since: I was a teenager

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: to the difference between what I hoped my life would be like and what is actually is like.  I let go of a little bit more every day.  That is hard.

5. Most people assume: that someone will just fix me

6. The hardest part about mornings are: juggling the meds/food/fluids so I can get vertical.  If I get it wrong I will pay for it all day.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: hmmm.  One Born Every Minute!

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My seat/cane

9. The hardest part about nights are: managing my bladder

10. Each day I take 27 pills & vitamins. (No comments, please)

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: have tried almost everything, but the only one that stood up was osteopathy

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: visible.

13. Regarding working and career:  I miss it.

14. People would be surprised to know: that I actually have really high standards. If they judged me based on how things are they would think I am a lazy housekeeper, unambitious and probably a bit mental.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: falling short of my own standards every day.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: stood up to doctors and ask for what I need.

17. The commercials about my illness: ?

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: being physical

19. It was really hard to have to give up: my dreams for our family, the plans we had as a couple.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: writing

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: dance

22. My illness has taught me: to be a patient patient, but only to a point!

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: how are you?

24. But I love it when people: really want to know.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: slowly slowly catchee monkey

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: to get as informed as they can, join a support group, distract.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: how many other people are, too.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: listen.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because:  I believe when people know how many people suffer there will be more kindness.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: like I am not just a statistic.

 

Rach

A peek into life with Chiari Malformation

September 11th, 2014 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

Last summer I went to a very fun Blog conference called Blog U, while there I met Christi from Ditching the Masks. When we met we did a typical “spoonie” thing. She came up to me and said “Hey you’re Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated girl right? I’m Christi and I have Chiari.” Then we hugged and made lots of sarcastic remarks and drank wine coolers at an 80’s retro prom… you know, typical stuff.

When Invisible Illness Week came up I knew I wanted to see if Christi would give us a peek into 30 things about her life with Chaiari, whoohoo she said yes.

 

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

chiari_malformation_awareness_5_posters-r9b0370e4775d4f34b17ea138a906e3fe_wad_8byvr_512

1. The illness I live with is: Chiari Malformation

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: April 2011

3. But I had symptoms since: Jr High years

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: Realizing that committing to something could mean I let someone down, and not follow through. It’s not how I roll.

5. Most people assume: I am fine. I look like everyone else. No one can see my “big brain” that herniates into my brain stem. No one can see the compression of nerves that changes with pressure fronts each day.

6. The hardest part about mornings are: Just climbing out of bed. Insomnia is a constant. Pain levels refuse to allow me a consistent night sleep and pain centers around the base of my neck, the area I am laying on while sleeping.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: HOUSE and Bones

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My iPad (I can still write or connect with the world from a horizontal position and that aint easy!)

9. The hardest part about nights are: …that they are endless. I used to love night time, because I loved the quietness and to just curl up and sleep. Now I love the quiet, but they never end and I wake more tired and unrefreshed than I came to bed.

10. Each day I take 9 pills & vitamins.

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: I do stretches to try to help, use a heating pad or ice packs, and have a large hand geld massage head that my husband uses on my back and neck to unbind the knots. It will ease the pain in a way that no drugs ever could.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: A choice here is really hard. I am not one to complain. I really don’t want people to look at me and see my illness. I don’t want to be defined by it. I want people to just see me and that’s it. There are times when I am really struggling and can’t keep commitments and have to constantly re-explain what I live with and why I can’t… and it is then I wish people could just see my “big Chiari brain” and be done with it. So I guess for the most part I’d keep it the way it is.

13. Regarding working and career: I recently had to turn down a job that was written to my strengths. I couldn’t take it because I knew how undependable I was and I cared too much about the non-profit company to say yes to the job. It broke my heart. So for now I freelance from home and do what I can to help out in ways here and there.

14. People would be surprised to know: I currently can not drive more than 15 to 20 minutes in a stretch. I can not hold concentration longer than that for driving. If I do, I may “wake up” on the other side of the road or worse. I sometimes even have to take a nap before driving myself back home from where I have been. I will crawl into the back of my van if this happens and nap for 20 minutes to an hour and then be on my way.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: Disappointing my family. I missed Easter Sunday one year, for instance, because I was in bed with a full on debilitating migraine. I couldn’t lift my head from the pillow. The kids were old enough to understand, and Dad got them all to Church ok with out me, but I laid and cried to miss my favorite Sunday of the year. I have missed out on tons over the years, and it has broken my heart over and over. The strength and independence I see in my kids makes me proud, what saddens me is when I hear them say, “It’s okay mom, we’re used to it.” I never get used to it. Ever. But it honestly has made them into strong kids who don’t cling, but are prepared to stand up and tackle life, without hanging behind mom’s apron strings.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Get back on stage! I have nearly zero short term memory, and I am very unreliable. But small roles, committing lines to long term memory with crazy memory tricks and a understanding director has allowed me to get my stage legs back and feel alive again. I had been off a real stage for 15 years. I’ve never been so happy as when I got my theater life back.

17. The commercials about my illness: In the layman’s terms, my brain does not fit into my skull properly. There isn’t enough room. It’s not that I am smarter than most people and have this massive brain – but rather that my skull is a bit too small and so the result is my brain tissue herniates into the brain stem, creating pressure on my nerves. THAT creates amazing physical “stuff” (to be real super technical) and it’s not always fun. I lovingly refer to this as “squished brain syndrome” even though there is no one else out there calling it that. This “stuff,” for me, ranges from debilitating migraines that lay me flat out, unable to get out of bed, pain that radiates from the base of the neck down my spine (think of a stiff neck in the morning and this is what it feels like up and down my back and neck), daily headaches, nausea, balance issues, concentration problems, driving problems (sometimes not able to drive at all) irritability, mood swings, knots up and down the neck, pain and tingling in the shoulders, arms and weakness in the arms and hands, little short term memory, and vision problems. There is a constant pain in my neck and back, and pressure fronts that move through with weather systems change that pain daily. Some days it can take my breath away. Other days, it’s almost like nothing is wrong with me . The inconsistency is really irritating. There is no “cure” – the only thing that can be done is to do surgery where a piece of the skull is removed at the base of the skull to give the brain more room to relax and not be constrained. This is not an easy fix and can be filled with complications and obstacles, as well as not work at all and cause more issues than you began with. I have not personally chose to do the surgery as the odds of it helping me have not outweighed the risk.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Riding on the back of my husband’s motorcycle. I loved doing that with him. I can’t take wearing the helmet and the wind buffering and whipping my head and neck around. It’s just too painful.

19. It was really hard to have to give up: My independence. I have had to ask for more rides than any other time in my life, and that includes when I was a teen and car-less. Asking for help is hard for me. Asking for a ride seems to be one step further and harder yet. I really have to swallow my pride on that one. All my really good friends now simply offer, “Hey, let me pick you up on my way.” I am beyond blessed by that.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: chalk painting little pieces of furniture and wooden organizational pieces. I feels so “Pinteresty!”

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Go on a roller coaster! I can never do that – as it throws my brain around and makes the condition worse not just by far, but includes instantaneous migraines that take my walking and vision away.

22. My illness has taught me: To simply be appreciative for every single day. So often they are half okay and half challenging. I really appreciate the heck out of all days because I know it won’t take much and I will have a fully down day. I feel I need to really use every single day I have that is fabulous to it’s fullest! I don’t want to waste even a single minute of it!

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: “Well it must be nice not having to work.” I would give anything to hold a “real job” – so our family could make it. Instead I feel like the reason we don’t. (And why I am constantly trying to find new ways to come up with another few cents I can earn to make sure we do.)

24. But I love it when people: say “You’d never know you had anything wrong with you, there is always a smile on your face.”

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Not to be afraid… it’s not a death sentence, it’s just not curable. It takes time to learn to live with it well, but it really is something you can learn to handle and often no one has any clue theres a thing wrong with you, and really, that’s a very good thing.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: I’m still just me. I’m NOT my illness, even though it fills so many of my days. I am still just the same me I always was and I refuse to let that part of me fade away into the background of it all.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: It was something really simple, but huge for my heart. One day I was at my lowest emotionally, as I was a couple weeks into a really bad spell. My best friend did not even try to come in and visit, but knocked on the door, handed me my favorite Vanilla Chai Latte from our local coffee house, hugged me, and left me to enjoy. My heart was full and I enjoyed sipping that chai for a long while with a good book.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I think it’s important to help people be aware. It’s often easy to make assumptions and not know a whole story. I now personally always give the benefit of the doubt to everyone. You never know what some one is living with that you know nothing about.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Honored. If you made it through all 30 of these it means you care enough to know what it’s like to be in someone’s shoes who has a life no one sees. What you see is what they choose you to see. Know that usually we put on a brave mask and wear it proudly. We want you to know and think of us as the people we are – not the illness that we deal with daily. Know that if we choose to share that journey with you, it is a very private and personal one, and we are assuming you will respect it and us as we deal with it. I hope you understand just a bit more than you did before. Thank you so much for reading! Keepin it real and continuing to “ditch those masks, Christi Campbell ~Dont forget to visit me over at the blogs: Ditching the Masks and  Moms Ft.Wayne, will settle for chocolate

“It is never to late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot

chairi supporting-the-fighters

An illness by any other name…

September 13th, 2013 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

During Invisible Illness Awareness Week many people bring awareness by filling out the “30 Things about Me and My Illness” questionnaire. For me that was the beginning of my being open about my life with Pure Autonomic Failure, also called Bradbury-Eggleston syndrome, which falls under the umbrella of Dysautonomia and causes an imbalance in each of the bodies involuntary functions.

In the questionnaire people are asked to answer and elaborate on if given a choice would they choose a visible medical issue or an invisible illness. The answers vary from person to person and often times when revisited our answers change. People frustrated with explaining ever changing issues with an invisible illness may think they’d trade for something visible; something clear and inarguable. Others, like me a year ago, were content with invisible feeling a sense of control over inviting people in to know the struggle or not.

This year I found myself on a slightly different version of this question…

If the choice was mine would I chose a different, yet just as debilitating, illness?

For example Pure Autonomic Failure has 2 other ‘sister illnesses’ that are sometimes categorized as Primary Autonomic Failure. The other two medical conditions are Multiple System Atrophy (Shy Drager Syndrome) and Parkinson Disease. Back to the days of my Sesame Street viewing; one of these things is not like the other. One is a household name; the other two are fairly unknown even in the medical community.

Would I trade my illness for one that was equally debilitating but a household name? YES

Please keep in mind I am not comparing the illness per say, more the social awareness of a name.

An illness by any other name…

Michael J Fox has brought Parkinson’s research to a whole new level and is about to bring it into your living room with his new show starting this month. Many people thought Dr. Gregory House did Lupus a disservice by always saying that the diagnosis was in fact never Lupus. What we have to agree on is House made sure everyone knew the word Lupus. Now I am not saying I need a celebrity spokesperson or a TV shows catch phrase, but it sure does help with bringing awareness.

Just like the original question posed in “30 Things about Me and my Illness” my answer may change next year, or even tomorrow.

What about you, would you trade your illness for one people have a basic understanding of or maybe you have a more publicly known illness that you’d trade for something that hasn’t been in the media giving people the assumption they know about it?

30 Things about Me and Dysautonomia 2012

 

iiweekadget-blogging (1)

Disabled, Mobility Aid, and Chronic Illness

August 6th, 2013 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

When I was younger I didn’t give much thought to things like the meaning of disability, mobility devices, or a chronic invisible illness. To me disabled meant something clear, something visible. Mobility devices were things like wheelchairs, for those undeniable and clearly disabled people, or maybe a cane or walker for some who needed stability. I would have assumed the stability was needed because of age or maybe some accident.  Again, these weren’t well thought out opinions just an assumption at a moments glance.

If you’ve followed for a while you’ll know many women in my family suffer with a chronic invisible illness called Dysautonomia, but we didn’t always. I didn’t grow up thinking that something inside of me would someday change, I never thought I would slowly become disabled.

I am now much more familiar with what disabled means, what mobility aids are used for, and what a chronic invisible illness is. Though my personal awareness has changed I am forced to relive my old assumptions through others, some parts because of the assumptions they have and others because of my own fear of being judged.

WHEELCHAIR WHEEL CHAIR

These are some very recent photos that I have seen online. I know the people who posted them believe that they are defending the “truly” disabled, you know, the definition a person may have of disabled before being thrust into the world of invisible illnesses.

Some of you may know me personally or follow my blog regularly and think that no one would think this of me, but each of these photos could easily be someone’s impression of me. I have been blasted with a series of questions about my illness in an interrogation style, I have darted from my wheelchair to get in the car because I felt someone was watching, and I have had my use of mobility aids discussed without my being there and heard about it through the grapevine.

Yes, I’ll stand up to reach something if there isn’t anyone there to ask… and yes it may be for some Skinny Girl. Yes, I can walk and I use a wheelchair.

Though I like the idea of you defending the disabled, a sign like the one below confirms that you have a specific idea of what disabled looks like. A person with a disability that is not so clearly seen may be concerned about meeting your definition of disabled. Your intent of defending may in fact look like a judgment of the very group of people you think you are defending.

wheelchair#

 

The fact of the matter is I am permanently disabled, after many tests and many doctors weighing in I am listed as being “unable to ambulate or walk 50 feet without stopping to rest due to a disabling neurological condition.” This is not a fact I have come to accept easily.

Now for my own personal reasons I do not receive SSI disability, mostly because I can only tackle one beast at a time. I have started the process with my insurance for my power wheelchair and have been using a power and manual wheelchair regularly for months. I will pick up my placard Thursday. I have put off getting the placard for some time, let’s just say I’ve had more than 2 forms expire while making excuses.

So yes, I’ll use the disabled parking placard even though you might not look at me and be able to tell why. Fact of the matter is on a good day many people will look at me and assume I am abusing it. Sometimes I use a cane, sometimes a wheelchair, and sometimes I may just walk in. People will see me walk from the passenger door to a wheelchair, or may see me in a wheelchair one day and not the next. A wheelchair is a mobility aid, I personally use one to help stabilize my blood pressure and heart rate as postural changes cause drastic instabilities for me.

I understand how confusing it may be, and I know when you see someone using a handicapped parking spot and walk in to the location looking “fine” you may want to give a look, leave a note, or even confront them. I ask you to come away from reading this knowing that neurological, cardiac and pulmonary conditions, along with many other invisible illnesses, do warrant these accommodations. A doctor must grant these accommodations and the doctor will benefit in absolutely no way from doing so.

JMM gal in wheelchair

Love,

The Just Mildly Medicated gal

5 things to think about before saying to someone with a chronic illness (especially if you are an ass)

March 4th, 2013 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

In the chronic illness community we have a lot of inside laughs and some venting about things we hear pretty often. There is an entire website built around the ever so popular reaction of but you don’t look sick. So I thought I would poke some fun at things I have heard myself and have had others tell me people have said to them.

~ The ever popular “but you don’t look sick”

What I rationally know you are saying is “I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that you are chronically sick, you look healthy” (I internally can replace healthy with ‘smoking hot’ if I need an ego boost)

What I hear on a grumpy day, or if you are in fact an ass. “There is no way it can be that bad, you look fine.”

If you can imagine for a minute the last time you were sick, remember that first day or the tail end of it when you were wiped out but had to get your act together to go to work, church or social event? Yeah, that is me on a good day. I can get my act together and with enough time I can get the hair done and the make up on. Please don’t undermine my condition by my effort to have some normalcy.

~ You’re on Facebook a lot / You post pictures a lot (replace with anything done from home really)

What I rationally know you are saying is “you’re on Facebook a lot” see I am not irrational, I might even add an internal “you’re on Facebook a lot and you are hilarious, I look forward to your posts.”

What I hear on a grumpy day, or if you are in fact an ass “Good God have you nothing better to do?” or “You post pictures doing things, it can’t be that bad”.

Yes, I am on FB… a lot. I have it on my phone and iPad which are with me all the time. I spend more time “relaxing” than most so I tend to use things like social media as a main form of social activity. I am not having lunch with friends or making small talk with work friends. I post pics pretty often because if I am putting the effort into getting out it is kind of exciting for me. When I am feeling good I want to shout it from the roof tops, so yep… you’re probably gonna hear about it.

~ My Aunt (neighbor, sister’s friend) had something like that and she got better after eating blah blah (taking blah blah or spontaneously healed after doing blah blah)

What I rationally know you are saying is “I hope there is a chance for you to be better one day” and I do too.

What I hear on a grumpy day, or if you are in fact an ass “you are clearly not doing something well enough because my Aunt/neighbor/sister’s friend is better now.”

I promise that I am in very regular communication with specialists. If broccoli is the cure I am going to hear about it.

~ “At least it isn’t terminal”

What I rationally know you are saying is “it could be worse, you have a lot to be thankful for.” Let me tell you I don’t take this lightly. I cannot imagine the impact a terminal illness has on a person and loved ones. I am thankful that my condition is not terminal.

What I hear on a grumpy day, or if you are in fact an ass “it’s not like you’re dying.” By the way this was said to me by a doctor while in the ER… grumpy day and he was an ass… So is this the new measure on how I should weigh news? So the next time you get horrible news, something really upsetting, imagine the person delivering it adding at the end “hey at least you’re not dying”, seriously! At what point does someone else need to point out that the good news here is that you’re not dying?

~ “You shouldn’t dwell on it so much”

What I rationally know you are saying is “I worry that the focus on your not being well is negative.” See, on a rational level I get what you are saying.

What I hear on a grumpy day, or if you are in fact an ass “OMG this again”.

This is life altering and impacts my family every day, even on my good days. There are many things about me other than my illness. I love reading, I have been an Army wife for more than a decade, I am a mom of four kiddos, I have a new fixation with hair braiding and am a loyal Walking Dead fan.

I chose to be open about Dysautonomia. It was an decision my husband and I made, talking about the pros and cons of letting people know the details. If all you know about me is my illness then kudos to me bringing awareness to someone who didn’t really want to get to know much else about me.

This post was brought to you by dumb things people say and ecards :)

30 Things about me and dysautonomia

October 2nd, 2012 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

Invisible Illness Questionnaire

1.The illness I live with is:
Dysautonomia (dysfunctional autonomic nervous system)  Dysautonomia is different for different people, for me I suffer with Chronic Fatigue, frequent Premature Ventricular Complex, GERD, Long QT syndrome, Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia and Bradycardia, non-sustained Ventricular Tachycardia and Orthostatic Intolerance. Dysautonomia is considered both a chronic and progressive invisible illness, which means it’s with me for good and can become more impairing. It took a long road to get pointed in the right direction. I owe a lot to The Center for Autonomic Disorders

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year:
2011

3. But I had symptoms since:
2005

4. The biggest adjustment I have had to make is:
I have had times where I’ve been much worse this last year and I have to plan my day down to the details. One of my main conditions is Orthostatic Intolerance, I am basically not that tolerant to being upright so if I overdo things, my heart goes berserk or I have convulsions. I have to rest before and after everything. On a doctor visit day I can’t also go to the grocery store or I will for sure have some type of episode.
Using a cane has also been a huge adjustment; if I have to do something that requires a lot of walking and or standing I am much better off using a cane even though I am not 100% comfortable with it yet.

5. Most people assume:
I would guess that most people know how much I love exercising so they would never think I have a chronic debilitating illness. I am very limited to what I can do, I use a recumbent bike while hooked up to a heart monitor and have started Pilates with an amazing instructor who is also a nurse. I cannot stand up for long without passing out or having severe tachycardia so these are working for me.
In general people assume if you look healthy you are. For people who know I’ve been going through something I would say they assume I have a heart condition when it is actually that my autonomic nervous system is not functioning properly.
Another big assumption is that it must not be too bad because I went to the mall or worked out etc… I have good days, great days even, great weeks at that. Then I am in rough shape for a while. I don’t know ahead of time how it’s going to be or how long it will last but I assure you I do everything I can when I am good.

6. The hardest part about mornings:
The worst is having to start the first wave of medications on an empty stomach (barfaroo) and the kids wanting breakfast right away while I am still light headed and nauseated from meds. It is also very aggravating on Sunday morning when I set up my meds for the week, it takes forever and if I have a convulsions… well it’s a lot like a jigsaw puzzle I didn’t sign up to do.

I took this to show a friend how organized I am

then I did a jigsaw puzzle, or as she called it I had medicinal confetti

7. My favorite medical TV show is:
I used to love House, not a huge medical TV kind of person

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is:
My IPhone would be my gadget, I am thankful to be chronically ill in a time when I can still have communication and entertainment even when I am stuck at home.
(Yeah Facebook and Words with Friends what would I do without those links to the world??!!)

9. The hardest part about nights:
Waking up with tachycardia or trying to fall asleep with Bradycardia, both are scary feelings.

10. Each day I take:
13 prescription medications (some are the same RX multiple times) and 2 over the counter meds. So that is 105 pills to potentially spill, yes I am still stuck on that. That was a crappy day.

11. Regarding alternative treatments:
I salt load but will need salt tablets soon (barf), I have to try and drink about 80oz of water a day, I have some compression wear for my arms and legs and when other friends with dysautonomia find something that works I give my doc a call. Exercise is so important; I now try to clock some exercise time in even on the bad days.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose:
Invisible, the downfall is definitely harder to diagnose because for a long time doctors thought I was fine because I wasn’t symptomatic at the moment my vitals were taken. As it progressed it became painfully obvious to my doctors. The benefit was I still had time to deal with the diagnosis with my family and decide if and who I wanted to share the information with.

13. Regarding working and career:
I am a stay at home mom and have been since 2003, I volunteer a little less each year and that makes me sad. I loved being in the class room. I always planned on going back to work, I have to say it is harder to imagine what I will do and how I will go about it but I also cannot imagine limiting myself.

14. People would be surprised to know:
One of the big motivators to come all the way out of the ‘invisible closet’ is because I am on the wait list for a cardiac service dog!!!
I think people also would be surprised to know 2 of my 4 kids also have an invisible illness. Oh and my family drove 14 hours for me to go to the Center for Autonomic Disorders… who goes 14 hours to a doctor?

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been:
I have had a hard time slowing down. My personality and chronic illness don’t go well together. In my head I want to organize, workout hard, volunteer, do projects go to the park and have lunch with friends. Making the choice of what the priority is for that day, and really not even one on some days, can get me down.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was:
I clocked in 116 miles on my recumbent stationary bike for Invisible Illness Week last month!

17. The commercials about my illness:
I have a whole documentary http://youtu.be/8UPMYNkm6Bc  CHANGES: Living with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. POTS is just one of many was Dysautonomia can surface.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is:
I still miss exercising the way I want to instead of the way my body will tolerate; I miss just walking the dog without wondering if I am risking an episode of non-sustained V Tach. Also going out certain places without fear; like to a concert (which I am planning to do soon) is scary. What if I pass out, what if I have a tachycardia episode it is a lot of worry.

19. It was really hard to have to give up:
Being able to ‘do it all’ in a day. I remember getting the kids ready for school, getting dressed, volunteering, working out, hitting the store making meals and hanging out with friends. It’s a slower pace now and never enough time or energy to do everything I want. I also can’t drive for 6 months after losing consciousness, that’s a LOOOONNNGGG 6 months!

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is:
I wouldn’t say I took them up because of my illness but I try and write as often as I can and I read read read! I love keeping track of my books at Goodreads.com and discussing books with friends.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would:
Take the little kids to the park and play hard in the morning, have lunch and go shopping with Sierra all afternoon then meet up with my husband and friends for dinner, drinks and dancing!! (I really hope to have a good enough day for all of this soon)

Outside the Doctor’s Office

22. My illness has taught me:
If you feel something is not right with your body and you do not feel you are being heard or given medical information and support that fits how you feel keep looking. Don’t settle. I have also learned no matter how real your illness, no matter how obvious your symptoms someone, and maybe someone you love, will doubt you are really ill.

23. It bothers me when people say:
It bothers me when people ask questions from a place of doubt instead of curiosity.  ‘You can’t be that sick, you exercise so much’ or ‘you were fine last year (last month, last week)’or if I am having a bad day or week saying it’s because ‘You worked out or went shopping etc.. and should have rested when you had a good day.’ For some people I can never win.

24. But I love it when people:
I love it when people ask questions from a place of concern for me or curiosity about Dysautonomia. I also love getting calls, texts and playing Words with Friends, it cheers me up, makes me feel social. (Big props to my WWF peeps) I love a call for coffee or lunch, I love getting out of the house and if I can I will!

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:
I did as much research as I could and I took ownership of this illness, because if you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?
Karen Duffy

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them:
You will find a new normal

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is:
That I am beginning to find a new normal.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was:
I am blessed to have a few.

My best friend having a natural balance to not treat me any differently but cut me some slack.

An old friend taking some time to catch up and be able to be concerned but still make a joke or two that lightened the weight of it all a little.

My husband explaining to me what Dr. Thompson told us; that my fatigue is not the same as when a healthy person is tired and that my body has a need to rest. Then he did the dishes…again

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because:
Dealing with this alone, for me, is not the option I thought it might have been in the beginning. I want people to know what is happening to me, why I might have to cancel plans and why I have so many limitations. I also want to let people know that Dysautonomia is very real and not many doctors are aware of what it is, or how to treat it. Awareness is crucial.

30. The fact that you are reading this list makes me feel
Validated and supported, really I couldn’t ask for more.