February 20, 2011

Normal Sick vs. Chronic Illness

Wow, it’s been a long time since I last wrote a blog entry.  I’ve missed you guys!  The good news is that it’s taken this long because I’ve finally started living my life again and have been more busy! First I’ll start with an update: I’ve been doing physical therapy for over a month now and it is incredible.  I am amazed at how much it is helping me get my strength back.  The progress I’ve made in such a short period of time is really impressive if I do say so myself.  My muscles are waking up and doing their jobs again.  My pain level is going down, slowly but surely, and I am able to walk around more.  

I actually feel like a member of society rather than an observer.  I am working on my independent study for school and love having the ability to focus and think analytically again.  All that being said, I still have a long way to go but it all seems much more doable now.  I think the biggest change in the past month has been in my attitude.  I feel motivated and empowered rather than helpless and scared.  Things feel in my reach and my passion for living has returned.  I guess you could say I’ve gotten my groove back!  

So that’s the general life update…  As for the most recent events, I’m actually not too happy right now because I’ve been sick with a stomach virus for about 3 days now.  Yuck, gross, disgusting.  Apparently, it’s going around and my minimal contact with the world is enough to catch it (not surprising).  Whenever I get sick (as in what’s going around sick, not chronic illness sick), I can’t help but wonder if my experience is different than someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness.  
Viruses seem to affect me more than the average person, both physically and emotionally.  Physically, they seem to knock the stuffing out of me more and they tend to last longer due to my compromised immune system.  I sleep a lot more (ridiculous amounts) and my POTS acts up.  Emotionally, I always fear that I’m going to go into a flare up and it brings back bad memories of being sick so much in the past.  I tend to go into panic mode, thinking here we go again, just as I thought I was getting stronger something else comes along.  I think it’s almost like a post-traumatic stress kind of a reaction.  I wish I could brush it off and relax like most people do when they get sick, but I seem to go into high alert mode and get really negative.  

Given that I am aware or my tendency to freak out in the face of viruses I have been working hard this time to remind myself that this virus is different than being chronically ill.  It really is just a stomach bug and its not going to spiral out of control.  I need to separate the emotional from the physical and try to get sick like a normal person.  Normal people don’t get super anxious and feel like they are falling off the deep end; they call in sick and take the day to chill and recuperate.  Granted it takes me longer to recover but I’m used to that by now.  The important thing is that I know I will get better eventually.  So that’s what I’m trying to be mindful of this time around and so far it’s going pretty well.  I did have one break down but I think that was mostly out of boredom and the frustration of only being able to eat rice for 3 days.  And I think that’s kind of normal, right?

Some questions to consider:

How do you deal with the posttraumatic stress that comes between bouts with chronic illness?

What other fears do you face with your chronic illness?


  1. Glad to hear you are feeling better in general and you love therapy!
    I completely understand getting virus sick. I also notice getting sick and it seems to hit me harder than others. About 2 years ago I got a stomach bug that everyone else in my family got. They were sick for about 2 days and then back to normal. I on the other hand got so sick that my bowels actually stopped moving. My body began to shut down and my doctor pretty much said that after the shot and medicine I got that I could stay in the hospital, but it would be the same thing as resting at home. I had to eat ice chips for 2 days and then broth for another 2. Finally I graduated up to broth flavored rice. It knocked me out. Now when I get sick I also sleep. Ridiculous amounts. I can easily sleep for 16 hours and still be tired and sleep. The only reason I seem to wake up is for body necessities such as someone forcing food in me. I always wondered if others who are chronically sick seemed to get virus sick worse too. Again, it's nice to hear I'm not alone.
    Well, I hope you get feeling better soon!


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  3. I'm new here, so I just want to say congrats on your therapy and glad that you are feeling better. Also, it's a good thing that you are aware of overly panicking with the virus. It certainly helps put your mind more at ease and adds to a quicker recovery. You are strong and very inspirational. Glad I found your site.

  4. Hi Ron, thanks for visiting! I love hearing from people who read my blog, it makes it all worthwhile. Also, thanks for the compliment. I'm not strong all the time but I do my best!