Days 13 – 17 Chronic Illness Challenge

Work got in the way once again and I fell behind in my chronic illness challenge.  I am determined to see it through to the end, so I will post answers to multiple questions today to make up for the loss.

Day 13:  Has your physical illness had any effect on your mental health?

When I was originally diagnosed, I didn’t want to accept that I had epilepsy.  It took a bit of time before the realization kicked in that it wasn’t going to go away and I was stuck with it.  I got depressed and stopped eating.  My natural stubbornness helped drag me through this.  I had goals that I wanted to achieve and I was not going to let epilepsy stop me, but it wasn’t easy.

I still have times when my moods tend to get pretty negative.  I am not sure if it is a vitamin D3 deficiency or a mental health issue.  I also have some colleagues at work that sometimes tend to focus on the negative side of their work situations.  ALOT.  Since I spend a fair amount of time indoors working, buying some vitamin D3 supplements couldn’t hurt.

Day 14: Give 5 things you are grateful for.

Some of these items are more groups of people than things.  They are listed in no particular order:

  1. Cats – Some people don’t like cats, but I find their presence to be soothing.  If I’m having a bad day, a cat video on youtube can instantly lift my spirits.
  2. Family – They are supportive and care.
  3. Care Team – I have some good doctors at the moment that have worked hard to find the right medicine for me.
  4. Twitter/Social Media – I have had good conversations with people all over the world using Twitter.  It also gives me something to do when insomnia kicks in.
  5. Chocolate – I love chocolate and  nothing can help boost my spirits faster.

Day 15: What would you say to people newly diagnosed with this illness?

These are my top three suggestions for patients newly diagnosed with epilepsy:

  1. Establish a good care team. By care team, I mean doctors dedicated to improving your physical and mental health.  In my case, it would mean my primary care physician, neurologist, and occasionally my therapist.  If there is one in your area, try to get a neurologist that specializes in epilepsy.  Sometimes this takes a while, so be patient.
  2. Be open about your symptoms.  Tell your care team about all the symptoms you have felt.  You do not know enough about the condition yet to know what is a red flag situation and what isn’t.  It is better to be safe.
  3. Go to your local Epilepsy Foundation support group.  Sometimes talking to members of an epilepsy support group can be extremely helpful.  They can also suggest methods and techniques that helped them when they were first diagnosed.

Day 16: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. ~ Maya Angelou

Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.  ~ Robert Frost

Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars. ~ Les Brown

Day 17: How would things be different if you weren’t ill?

The five second answer to this is just about everything.  I wouldn’t be obsessed over whether I had good health insurance.  I would probably go to the nearest and most convenient doctor instead of obsessively sticking with the one I have now (I like my doctors and noone is making me change them.)  I wouldn’t have to teach an extra course to make sure I had enough income to pay for my health insurance.

If I were not sick, I probably wouldn’t have started this blog or the twitter account that goes with it.  I met a lot of interesting people because of this blog, so that though is a bit sad.

If I were not sick, maybe I would also have my american dream.  I would have my great full-time job complete with house and family.  But maybe not.  Who knows.

This question was probably meant to help those understand how much the illness changes your life.  After awhile it becomes very hard to describe all those changes because it is part of your identity now.   If someone travelled back in time and arranged it so I didn’t get epilepsy, I would probably be a completely different person.

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