Setting chronic illness goals

What’s your CI goal?

We all have different goals, of course.  There are the big picture goals, the ones that shape our lives.  For me, that’s spending time with family and friends, dating, keeping a full time job, and taking care of myself while living alone.  Some of these are easier than others at different times.  Sometimes these feel impossible.  But so far, they’re all doable.  Ok, maybe I can’t do them all simultaneously, but I’m working on it.

And then there are the illness-related goals that focus on the symptoms.  For me, that’s reducing the pain, finding ways to better relieve the pain when it hits, reducing fatigue, and removing weakness.  I suppose I’ve had these goals for so long that I’ve just taken them for granted.

Over the weekend I was talking with a friend who suffers from severe chronic pain.  She’s been using a form of exercise to try to ease the pain.  She told me that it started to work better when she stopped using it to get rid of the pain and instead thought of it as a way to reduce the pain.  I was shocked!  It never occurred to me that she was trying to get rid of the pain completely.  I guess it wouldn’t have mattered – I couldn’t have talked her into anything different because she wasn’t ready for it yet.  Still, I forgot what it was like to have hope that despite everything, it might one day go away.  I stopped thinking that way many years ago.

I’m happy for my friend that she has this new outlook.  Now, any reduction in pain is a success.  Maybe it will go away completely one day, maybe it won’t, but for now, she won’t feel like she’s failing at “curing” her symptoms.

I learned a long time ago that my pain would never go away.  It took a long time to accept that reality.  And then it went stopped!  I still have pain, but it used to be 24/7, and now it’s only on and off throughout any given day.  Some days I can almost ignore it completely.  This huge, amazing, unbelievable!  So I’m keeping an open mind and I know that anything is possible.  Still, my goal isn’t to get rid of any of my symptoms (except the weakness, which is almost definitely temporary.)  If I just focus on reducing them, then maybe they’ll go away and maybe not, but at least I could get to a point where they were liveable.  If I can live with them and still meet my big picture goals, then that’s good enough for me.  Hell, forget “good enough,” I’d be dancing in the streets with joy.

What about you?  What are your goals?  I’d love to know.  Make a comment below or send me an email.

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