In the first few years of appointments with my rheumatologist, I received a diagnosis and a drug treatment plan, as well as referral to specialists as needed, such as physical therapy or anti-inflammatory infusions at the hospital. However, I did not receive any information on the condition with which I was diagnosed. That, I had to research on my own.
When you live with chronic illness, you become familiar with frustration, pain, fear, worry, and feeling vulnerable. It’s easy to get bogged down with these feelings, but it’s not a good place to be. How do I get out of it or prevent it from happening in the first place?
Every morning in summer, I sit outside with my coffee and my daily spiritual reader. This year I am reading Your True Home: the everyday wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh, a book about living mindfully. Every day I treasure this ritual.
I am fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest in a home surrounded by nature. The gentle breeze blowing through the evergreens, rising and falling, creates a rhythmical sound. Two northern flickers fly overhead-- I hear their calls first, and then watch them fly over and disappear into a stand of Douglas fir. It is easy to be mindful and grateful living in a setting like this. I crave this natural beauty, and its quiet rhythms. It steadies, calms, and grounds me.
As a former perfectionist and workaholic, chronic illness has forced me to change my ways. The first five years after being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and adrenal fatigue, I was still pushing myself too hard and trying to do too much. This resulted in more frequent flare-ups, and a higher level of chronic pain.