Chronic illness is pretty much always a literal pain. There are, however, certain times when the pain and mobility issues are at their very worst. Those times are known as flares. They can last a day. They can also last a year or more. Sometimes they cause irreversible damage. Or at least it feels that way. That’s right, as bad as it feels, in some cases, you really can get your mojo back, even after a long, painful flare. So, how do you get back to normal? Is it even possible?
Meds are not always for life.
Some are real life savers. Others simply make things worse. It’s so important to listen to your doctors. They really do want to help you. However, you also have to listen to your body. If it’s telling you a certain medication is doing more harm than good, pay attention.
Remember, no matter what your doctor says, this is ultimately your life and your body. If your meds are making you sick, why are you taking them? Take what helps. Drop what hurts. You’ll get over flares more quickly by taking only the meds that really help you.
How do I know?
I’ve been there. It took me some time to realize that not only were some meds bad for me, they were actually causing some of the muscle damage I had attributed to the disease. They weren’t just giving me side effects. They were creating a whole new set of problems. For instance, my arms lost all muscle control after being vaccinated on the recommendation of one doctor. It took me a year to get full use of them back.
Later on, my rheumatologist told me that with the type of Lupus I had, I should never have been vaccinated, due to the heavy metals. One of the medications I was taking also caused my hips to seize up. On top of that, I had the usual severe pain and mobility issues of the flare itself. It was a lot to recover from.
Do your research.
Sure, it’s important to listen to your doctors. It’s even more important to take the information they give you and combine it with your own instincts, experience and education. Don’t just pop every pill they give you. Look it up. Learn what’s good and bad about it. Weigh those odds. What can you live with? What side effects do they have? Are those worse than the disease itself? If so, don’t take them unless your very life depends on them. Ask for alternatives. You will recover much faster if you don’t have to recover from meds that make things worse.
Don’t be afraid to move.
I have a lot of friends with chronic illness. Those of us who try to continue with normal daily tasks all seem to recover from flares more quickly. While it’s important to take it easy and let yourself heal, it’s also important to keep your body moving. Yes, even if you’re moving like the slowest turtle ever. I’ve found that it’s OK to at least try to do things that you think you can’t, as long as you don’t overdo it or hurt yourself. You might not do those things as well or as quickly at first. But eventually, your muscles and joints will learn to move again.
My experience with avoidance
I used to avoid tasks that involved me working low to the ground and getting back up again. Why? Because getting back up was not my strong suit. I soon found that avoidance was no way to recover. Those muscles stayed atrophied until I started using them a little at a time. Thank you gardening season! At first, I needed a stool to get both down and up from the garden. Then, I just needed it to get back up. Now, I can sometimes get up with no help at all. That’s a huge triumph when recovering from a Lupus flare.
You see, even though I was using a stool, I was also using the muscles just enough to get them going again. So, go ahead and do those things that you don’t think you’re capable of, a little at a time. You may have to use new methods, but doing so will build your strength, nonetheless. Before you know it, you won’t need those crutches, special tools and innovative methods.
Most of my readers know that I’ve gone vegan and was already vegetarian. It’s no big secret. Giving up dairy and carbonated beverages has made a huge difference in my recovery. I’m also soaking up just enough sun for vitamin D and studying up on helpful nutritional supplements that nix the inflammation that worsens and promotes Lupus flares. Now, your particular chronic illness may not be helped by the same things that help me. The point is though, being well nourished is essential when recovering from chronic illness flares or any other kind of illness.
This was a big one for me. What is a treat? Is a treat something that promotes good health or bad? Treating yourself shouldn’t mean sacrificing years of your life. It should mean making your life better. This revelation was a good percentage of what helped me recover so quickly. Now, before I have a “treat”, I make sure that treat is going to help me recover, not increase the duration of a flare. Want to get better, faster? Be truly good to yourself. Don’t buy into what society says is a treat. Treat yourself to a long life, instead.
Please note: The author is not a licensed medical professional. This article is based on the author’s personal experience. It is not intended to replace professional medical advice.
More from Jaipi:
The Many Benefits of Chronic Pain and Illness
Why Folks with Chronic Illness Don’t Get “Real” Jobs
Cleaning Tips for the Chronically Ill