Tagged Chronic illness

Air travel

I use to travel, a lot. Multiple times a year, different countries, long trips and short trips, all of which I did with relative ease. I started traveling at a very young age, the simplicity and near-comfort that I felt with the entire airport routine (regardless of my location) has been a part of my identity for most of my life. From being the one who knew all the tips and tricks for getting through different airports quickly to feeling elation at landing in every new city, I reveled in the energy and unexpected adventures of frequent travel.  With my…

Hospital PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not exclusively a wartime condition. There are innumerable events that can cause the disorder. Personality traits and emotional leanings also contribute to the likelihood of developing PTSD. For centuries, trauma was treated as a momentary cut instead of a deep scar. Today, we realize that lifelong mental distress can be caused by even a single traumatic event.  It may seem counterintuitive to claim that medical spaces and hospitals in particular can cause PTSD. Unfortunately, it is true. The process of recovering from a hospital visit is lengthy and multifaceted. Being out of control, having your…

When I just can’t

It isn’t very often that I am absolutely and completely useless. I can usually pull myself together enough to do a chore or work on something creative. In fact, the act of completing a small goal helps bolster self-worth and a positive mental state. However, today was an empty day. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally drained of function. With chronic illnesses, there is a lot of recovery time for simple tasks. I’ve written about it before and it will continue to be a theme in my posts because it’s important to acknowledge the difference between recovery and laziness. There…

Intimacy for the broken

In a vast library of films, I have yet to see an honest depiction of chronic illness and relationships. There are moments that pop up in television series and informative singular tales in documentaries, but they all lack the truth and complexities of navigating intimacy while dealing with a daily disease.  I use a broad classification of relationships. This term includes acquaintances, friends, lovers, partners, spouses, and family. It fits anyone with whom I have shared a connection or meaningful moments in time. Over the years, it has become clear just how important my health is when dealing with all…

Not theirs to break

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about treating pain with pain. From studies about the psychology of pain to stories about BDSM as a coping mechanism for living with disease, these articles are written by non sufferers and seem lacking in patient perspectives.  The concept of treating pain with pain is almost instinctual. For instance, we tend to soothe a sore muscle with rubbing, smacking a bug bite that won’t stop itching, or using the distractive method of pinching your arm when your foot hurts. These techniques absolutely work, temporarily. They overload the nervous system and your brain…

I’m just a girl – Diagnosing part 1

I was 18 years old and living in the American south. It was a new adventure after moving to the U.S just a few years prior. Being eighteen and still adjusting to a new culture, my life was a combination of amazing and incredibly stressful. It was a time before social media. The Internet was not a daily thing, a much simpler time in that regard. That lack of access came with its benefits but also left a lot of us lacking easy access to quality information.   About a year into my southern life, I began not feeling well. It…

A walk too far

I am currently staying in a place with good public transportation (by American standards). Not only are the metro stations abundant, the lines are also timely and run across the whole city. There is a stop half a block from my home that takes me to large grocery stores, banks, and other errand locations. Before planning my time here, I had to carefully analyze this urban layout. It had to meet my mobility requirements and provide enough amenities so that I could receive timely deliveries when I couldn’t leave the house.  This overly planned style is not how I use…

It’s all in your head

Over these last few months, there have been a number of news and medical publications making the claim that past trauma is the cause of difficult and uncontrollable physical pain. This isn’t a new idea nor is it a conclusive proclamation of why all pain manifests. Of course, it is catchier for journalists to summarize the story using biased language instead of explaining the actual study breakdown in full.  There is no definitive proof that historical trauma causes intractable pain and pain disorders. There is no way to accurately measure pain. This makes studying pain and its root causes very…

You look great!

Living with partially or completely invisible illnesses can be an emotional rollercoaster. People are quick to assume everyone not in a chair or without a cane is able-bodied. On one hand, they don’t discriminate against you based on your unseen disability. On the other hand, they don’t give you empathy or the space that you may need to handle your body.  When I take public transport, it has to be a high-energy day. I have been asked to standup so that someone mobile can take my seat. I have been jostled and rushed as everyone around me expects me to…

Tricky symptom speak

When you walk into a doctor’s office with acute symptoms, they want to know three things: What are the exact symptoms, what were you doing when the symptoms began, and how bad are the symptoms/pain (often using the ineffective 1-10 scale)? When you walk into a doctor’s office with chronic symptoms, they want to know three things: How long have you been experiencing this symptom, what have other doctors said about this, and are you mentally sound? Through my many years navigating doctors and hospitals, I have found that using highly descriptive language is most effective way to express symptom…