Tips For Struggling With Daily Living and Chronic Illness
Tips For Struggling With Daily Living and Chronic Illness – When you become diagnosed with a chronic illness it feels as though your on a tilt-a-ride. Everything becomes overwhelming, trying to perform daily tasks become harder and harder. It requires a lot of trial and error to find out what you can do and what you can not do. Basic things like showering, washing your hair, shaving, preparing food, cleaning the house, doing laundry can become very overwhelming. Leaving you struggling with daily living and chronic illness. It often leaves you forced to figure out how to take care of these things, and in my case pulling together as a family. With a lot of trial and error I have decided to share what works for myself and my family with the hope of helping others. I enjoy having some independence and being able to still do some of these things gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Showering with a chronic pain disease can be exhausting and for some it can feel like they are being cut by razors. For myself washing my hair with a hand that no longer functions can become extremely difficult. I have found on the days you are having a bad flare and can not shower, baby wipes do help get the clean feeling without having to jump in the shower (just make sure there is not a lot of alcohol in the brand you choose or it can dry out your skin). I also use facial wipes to wash my face.
For my hair I have found dry shampoo works great, I recommend trying different brands because some work better than others. With dry shampoo you just spray your roots (keep in mind to keep the spray far enough away from the scalp or it will leave a whitish color). Your hair smells great afterwards and takes the greasy appearance away. It also adds volume to hair which is always a bonus.
We all know shaving can be a chore as well, and if you experience pain in your legs it can become a horrific pain shaving. I have found hair removal creams work great. They are sold at any chain store or drug store and tend to be a life saver. Please try a small amount before spreading it on your legs to make sure you can tolerate it or do not have a reaction to it.
I have even found brushing my teeth can become hard one-handed (my dominate hand has RSD) so I purchased an electric toothbrush to ensure they were getting cleaned properly and found that floss pics work better than plain dental floss so I can floss one-handed.
By the time dinner came around I found myself hurting and tired, but I still wanted to be able to at least cook dinner for my family. Dinner is important at my house as it is our time to get together and see how everyone’s day went. I found myself calling my husband to have him grab something on his way home from work, most of the time it was fast food (unhealthy, and expensive for a family of five).
When I discovered this once a month freezer cooking, I realized I could cook in pain. I created a list of recipes that I knew my family would eat and put together a master list of ingredients. My husband did the grocery shopping because there were a lot of items. On a Sunday afternoon we set up an assembly line, included the kids and did 19 crock pot meals in 3 hours. All I have to do is read what was written on the freezer bag for directions, dump the bag in the crock pot, turn it on….boom, done. We are eating healthy meals and the family loves it. I feel great being able to still have a hot meal on the table and it didn’t take any work.
The kids take turns setting, clearing, and washing dishes. If you don’t have a large family you can still do the freezer cooking. Just divide the ingredients into a couple of bags for a few meals instead of one, you then have double if not triple the meals. 🙂
Cleaning was also another task that I found myself struggling with, so we talked to the kids and created a chore list. They each get paid an allowance as long as they do what they are supposed to do. Once a week usually on a Saturday or Sunday they each do their chores. My kids are older now (17, 15, and 11 years old) but we started this several years ago.
One does all the floors (sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping every other week). One does all the dusting and one does the bathrooms and kitchen deep cleaning (toilets, bathtub, mirrors, sinks). We rotate this on a monthly basis, so they are not stuck doing the same thing.
By giving them an allowance, it is teaching them how to budget, save, and allows them to buy what they want. My husband also helps out with whatever else is left or if they need help doing something. I play a good role as the supervisor and try to contribute when I can.
Laundry is another task that became overwhelming, now that the kids are older they can do their own. When they were younger, I found a roller cart to get it to the washer from their bedrooms helped a lot. There was no way I was able to lift a laundry basket. I’m fortunate enough to have a main floor laundry. The tricky part was trying to fold one-handed, so we used a lot of hangers and what couldn’t be hung I used the kitchen table or a hard surface to fold it one-handed. It may not have always been perfect, but it worked.
Finding the Balance
Finding the balance is part of this disease and I’m thankful my family helps out a lot. Some people may not have their family at home or the kids are too young to help. In this situation, there are other options. If your low-income, calling your county Department of Human Services and asking if they can provide a Chore Helper may be an option. This person can help with cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, etc and the state will cover some or all of the cost.
If you’re not low-income placing an ad on Care.com or some place similar may help connect you with someone and you can negotiate the pay and hours needed. Another option is calling local churches, family, friends, or even the local high school and telling them your situation they may be able to connect you with some volunteers to help you out too. I know my local high school sends their football team out to help the elderly and disabled with yard work and gets them involved with the community.
Losing our independence is a very hard thing, but learning to ask for help can ease this transition. I know before I was diagnosed I volunteered a lot, it left me feeling good about myself and I didn’t want anything in return. The feeling was more than any material thing could have provided. I know asking for help is hard, but remember you may be bringing someone else joy by having them help you.
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