This week, we had a sad loss in the family, and it has been very emotional. However, for me there is an extra dimension to the news, how can I manage the stress levels and ensure I do not cause a flare in my disease? A flare is simply a sudden worsening of the symptoms of a disease or condition.
It is incredibly hard to deal with this situation without sounding very selfish and self-centred. However, I think we need to look at this from a different angle: if the stress of our loss does cause a flare and I end up bed-ridden and needing further treatment, then the added stress for the whole family will double the current levels and that will not help anybody. It is hard for people without a chronic condition to realise that you are not being selfish in this situation because you know that you have to think about how your body will react and you have to hit that realisation head-on and try to prevent it from happening. To some friends, however, you just sound like a paranoid annoying self-centred person, to friends and family who understand, they will support you in this plan, these are people you want in your life, surround yourself with these people.
So how am I trying to cope with this?
Ok, I am not a saint, so immediately I reached for a bottle of beer. Not healthy I know, but it made me feel nothing for a few hours… so it worked perfectly. But I then decided this probably wasn’t going to work (once I had woken up and decided I felt a ‘bit rough’), so this week I have tried to eat lots of veg, take a little time away from work (agreed with my boss) and gone for long walks with George my faithful but crazy Labrador. Currently, I am trying to resist raiding the crisp box, and am trying to eat the healthier Cranberry and Macadamia nuts on my desk. They don’t taste quite as good and salt and vinegar chipsticks, but I know they taste better than hospital food, and therefore at this moment they must be my snack of choice.
I even tried these seaweed things… but I wouldn’t recommend them, the whole packed is now in the dustbin.
It is a difficult time, and tensions are running high, arguments are natural, but also a risk to my health. I have to be honest, since getting ill 5 years ago, my ‘need’ to be right in all arguments has diminished, and I will now let things just go over my head for the sake of trying to stay calm. It doesn’t always work but sometimes it does allow me to walk away without the instant rise in blood pressure that I can feel pumping through the blood vessels. It is hard to do this, and again I am not perfect at it. However, the selfish option is to let the argument go, if it isn’t critical, walk away and discuss at another time when you are all a little calmer.
Anyway, I am now off for a deserved cup of tea followed by a long walk in the autumnal sunshine. Remember you are a little like a car, if you do not look after yourself, with maintenance and the correct fuel, then you won’t be able to support anybody else as you will break down, so being selfish is really like being generous to everybody else around you.
(and then a day later I gave in and ate a massive bag of salt and vinegar crisps.)