We all go through stages where we hit walls and recognized the poor choices of the past. When it comes to things that affect our health, it’s more common than not to feel that if everything seems tolerably managed for now, why worry? It is actually a very small percentage of people that get away with that into their old age (assuming they get there), and a lot of people that you observe and think they are “fine” are not all that fine. They tend not to advertise what their choices have done to their bodies. It’s a good front. Whether they are taking medication for various issues or not, the problems are there. There are certain mile-markers at which it becomes more and more clear. Trust me however when I say that nobody stamped you with a precise expiration date.
Change is choice. Earlier is better, but that’s not a hard limit. The longer we let ourselves be complacent about the eventual results of poor choices, the harder the consequences are, but that doesn’t mean you are SOL and should just throw in the towel. It’s also not a time to beat yourself up over everything once it has become very clear to you there is a problem. That’s very easy to do, but it’s 0% productive. Have that moment if you need to and lament the loss of opportunities wasted, but when you’re done (and make it brief) dust yourself off and face forward. Very rarely is a bad prognosis meaningful in the life of an individual that makes a decision to prove better. We have plenty of fantastic examples around us every day like Richard Simmons, who is famous for telling people to start wherever they are at and do whatever they are able – and he speaks from personal experience. He demolished the stereotypical idea that only fit people exercise and anyone else should hide themselves in shame. We have Tony Little, who recovered from a horrific accident and provided the world with a great exercise device that has helped many others do the same. We have so many pro athletes that have either recovered completely from serious damage, or learned to adapt to the things they could not fully repair. I have even seen people choose that point where their whole life changed to THEN become a real beast. It’s the people like Simmons, Little, Jeb Corliss, Lonnie Bissonette, Kurt Yaeger, Karina Hollekim, Mark Urquhart, Lucky Yogi, Trevor Thomas, and so many more that I could name – including various Lupus warriors like myself that refuse to lie down and quit – that I look to for reminders every day. What all of these individuals possess is not only personal focus, but a willingness to share their story to show others what CAN BE DONE. It doesn’t matter if the topic is life in a wheelchair, or pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, or autoimmune and neurological disease. The process is the same, and it starts between your ears. If you have to be mad, be mad enough to fix yourself. Don’t turn it on yourself because that is only destructive. You’re still the same wonderful, valuable, individual with great potential in life.
If you’re new to this vast community of challenged individuals… first of all, I’m sorry. I know it sucks. That goes for every type of disability, injury, or chronic illness. It’s not a community that I enjoy welcoming people into at all. I wish I could kick everybody out of it, but that’s not within our power. What IS within our power is to make the choices starting from right now to improve our own quality of life. Every day I see people that have just given up, and too often it is because they have been taught to view their physicians as the final authority in all matters medical. It’s defeating to be told you have a framework outside of which you are no longer allowed, and what’s more important is…. it’s INACCURATE. You’re the only one living in that body 24/7 that can make the decisions about what will affect it and what you will do with it. The unfortunate truth about health challenges is that you will commonly find Drs that are less interested in working with you for a self-determined positive outcome. You are much more likely to get the 15-20 minute max appointment where they pronounce the ills, hand you pills, and breeze off to something else. If that’s your Dr, either collar them and explain that you need more than that… better than that… or get rid of them and find someone more suitable to your needs that will genuinely support you. This is your LIFE we’re talking about here. If you want to live another 30 years and they’re trying to sell you on less than half that, you need to walk away. If you still have a bucket list of adventurous activities that you haven’t fulfilled, don’t let them make you think you have to cram it all into the next year or two. You probably don’t. That applies whether it’s skydiving (yeeee! lol) or having an herb harden you always wanted. Roll up your sleeves and get to educating yourself. Choose to regain some control.
Be aware also that all change is stressful. Good changes create stress. Successes are stressful. You can make a bunch of positive changes and be seeing results, and still be hit with an emotional bomb from time to time over it. Sometimes it is simply the fear of not doing enough, or feeling like it is a lot to live up to and keep doing. You’re normal. 🙂 That’s just a human, emotional reaction. Acknowledge it. Keep going. If no one has told you yet today, I will…. you’re fabulous. If you are doing anything to improve your life, and it matters to you, you are doing great. Also… I am still here. I will be. I have dedicated a large portion of my life to helping others through educational awareness regarding chronic illness like rheumatic autoimmune disease, and women’s heart disease, and to the advocacy and support that everyone in the community needs in learning to rebuild that quality of life. It bears repeating what I have said before so many times. This is not about the number of years you can squeeze out of your body. It’s about quality first, and the years will naturally follow. Barring stepping in front of a bus anyway… so please look both ways before crossing. 😉
I offer consistency. If you’ve known me for at least two years, then you know this about me. The information I’ve been sharing for the last 5 years is going to remain valid and available. If it only just now became important to you, you will get no harsh judgments from me. I will only tell you that I am happy that you are now heading in the right direction and I will do everything that I can to help you. If you’re not there yet, I’ll still be your friend and be here when it becomes your reality. One of the many things my illness has taught me is that my experience is valuable to more than just me. I could selfishly and silently find solutions and just fix me. My conscience wouldn’t let me sleep well if I did that. I am much happier when I know that someone else has been helped as well.