Friday, 13 November 2020

Four Tips to Thrive with Chronic Illness


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Today I am welcoming guest poster Patti Kaye to the blog, to talk about living with Chronic Illness. She  has been a huge inspiration to me and is just an all-round lovely person, so I hope she can inspire you too, whether you live with a chronic illness yourself, or know someone who does and want to learn more about it. She lives in British Columbia, Canada and has lived with the effects of MS for twelve years. Whilst this caused her to have to give up her teaching job and was devasting at the time, she has resolved to approach life in as optimistic and high spirited way as she can, which I think is a brilliant outlook to have and something I really aspire to do myself. 

Learning to be in charge of my life with chronic illness didn't happen overnight. Over time, I realized how important it is to be cheerful, forward-looking, and grateful for every day. When I saw the glass half full, so did people around me. My smile prompted others to smile in return, which made me smile even more. So how I responded to the daily challenges I faced became a no-brainer. Before I share four tips to thrive with chronic illness, I want to tell you about an eyeopening event that changed the way I saw my life with MS. The big takeaway; my experience with MS wasn't only about ME; many others were on this journey with me.

I’m not Dying, I have a Chronic Illness

After a medical leave of absence, I returned to teaching, but to a different school. My new assignment included social studies 8, 9, and 11 and modified math 8. The school district wasn't large, so students from other schools in the area played on the same community sports teams. One day I stayed after school to finish marking before going home for the day. There was a knock on the door and in walked Jen, a student in my Social Studies 9 class. She asked if I had time to chat. Most definitely! Connecting with students was very important to me. Gen sat down in the nearest chair to my desk.

A view from the back of a classroom, with rows of empty desks.

The Conversation

"I play community soccer, and students from the school where you taught are on my team. Do you know what they're saying about you?"

"That I'm a terrible teacher, and happy I'm gone?"

I looked away so Jen couldn't see my face.

"Are you kidding me? You're an excellent teacher."

"Then what are they saying?" 

"One day at practice, Sara asked who is my favourite teacher. I said, Ms. Bevilacqua. Sara said you were her PE teacher, and you just disappeared. Nobody knew what happened to you. She couldn't believe you were teaching at my school!"

Jen could see the look of surprise on my face.

"Then what are they saying?"

"They think you're dying!"


"On Friday, you were there, but on Monday, you were not. The other PE teachers didn't say anything about where you went or when you would be back. They think you're not teaching PE anymore because you are very sick and dying. Ms Bevilacqua, are you dying?"

"No, Jen. I'm not!"

30 Chronic Illness Ambassadors

The final bell rang. I took a seat on a stool at the front of the room.

"Today, I want to talk to you guys about something very important to me."

I told the students my story. For the next 25 minutes, I talked about autoimmune diseases and multiple sclerosis. Before the class ended, I asked the students for their help.

“Whenever you hear a student say I’m dying, will you please set the story straight and squash the rumour? Will you do this for me?"

The answer . . . a resounding YES! You know your body better than anyone else, and this is especially true with respect to common health conditions having straightforward solutions.

For example:

  • Recovering from a cold/flu,
  • Reducing stress levels,
  • Getting relief from headaches, and healing infections.
Large bowl of lettuce surrounded by several smaller bowls of assorted fruits and vegetables

However, overcoming chronic illness because you know your body best is unlikely. Following doctors' orders, eating well, taking meds, and listening to your body will help, but these actions will not eliminate chronic illness. No wonder many people living with chronic disease feel depressed and defeated. But your life isn't over! Take control of your chronic condition, take control of your life, and feel better about YOU!

OK, now to the 4 tips to thrive with chronic illness.

Remember, your Chronic Illness doesn't Define You. Allow your strength and courage to speak on your behalf. Let others see your determination, perseverance, and resilience despite the challenges you face every day. After all, actions do speak louder than words.

Find Acceptance of your Chronic Illness with a Fighting Spirit

You have a choice. You can see your life with chronic disease as one long dark night with no dawn OR, as a noteworthy day whereby you demonstrate your vitality, grace, and will. 

Set Realistic Goals as Part of your Life with Chronic Illness

It's essential to set small, practical goals because you're more likely to achieve them. Goal setting is personal; only you can determine what's best for you. Celebrate each little victory over chronic illness no matter how "big" or "small".

Be your Own Best Advocate

Speaking up for oneself is critical for anyone with chronic illness. Self-advocacy describes the efforts you create to represent yourself and your needs in and out of the healthcare system. Stay true to yourself!

Thrive, Don’t Just Survive

Like I said at the beginning of this post, learning to take charge of my life with chronic illness didn't happen overnight. In 1990, I learned this lesson from experience and conversations with others. Now it’s 2020! There are more resources like blogs, podcasts, and other web-based tools to make learning more straightforward and more accessible. In the past, conventional doctors provided the answers and traditional medicines provided the relief. Today, alternatives are available, such as acupuncture, chiropractic, natural remedies, and nutritional supplements. Over the past 25 years, I’ve spent a lot of money and time in the pursuit of keeping MS in check.

From my experience, monthly visits to the chiropractor and taking daily supplements help me to live a more vibrant life despite MS. Send me an email if you want more information on the health protocol and products I use every day.

Call to Action

The internet is a useful tool. People can find anything on the world wide web. Some are real, and some are scams. In the beginning I didn’t and spend lots of time and money in pursuit of health. So be careful and do your research! Today, when I find a website that catches my attention I use a checklist to determine if the website is credible before I go any further.

Click the button below to get the checklist I use to determine if a website is real or a scam.

Click Here

A penny for your thoughts - well not really! But I really want to know what you think about this post. Please write a comment below. Your feedback is much appreciated! Also, don’t forget to share this post with friends and family and on social media.

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Top Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay 
School Desk Image by silviarita from Pixabay
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