Friday, April 15, 2016

Facing Forward: Shelley

Facing Forward is a series that shares the lives of people living with arthritis and other invisible chronic illnesses. The goal of the series is to see how we are similar and how we are different - and to remind us to keep moving forward because we aren't alone!

Name: Shelley
Location: Texas, USA
Diagnosis: Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease
Age at Diagnosis: 26

How are you currently treating your condition?
For the most part i am only taking medication that helps with the symptoms right now. For pain I regularly take Tramadol. I also live with my heating pad and often take warm baths with Epsom salts. I do gentle yoga to help stretch the parts of my body that hurt the most. And hwen that fails to help I do take a muscle relaxant to keep my muscles from getting too locked up from pain and to help me sleep.

Generally I try to just keep my lifestyle in accordance with my body's allowances. I work very hard at pacing myself and trying to not overtax my body. I try to listen to the signals it sends me, though that doesn't always go as planned.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
Learning to accept the fact that there are things I used to do that I can't do anymore. I've always loved the outdoors, I even have a degree in recreation, and being sick has put a lot of limitations on my outdoor adventures. I've had to find a way to accept that hiking and rock climbing are things of the past, though I still go on walks as much as possible. It still hurts to watch other people do those things, but I'm continually working on trying to accept the way things are.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
I try to pace myself as much as possible, and not get down on myself if I fall behind because I'm not feeling well. I tell myself I'm doing okay as long as I can accomplish at least one physical task every day, even if it's only emptying the dishwasher. I've found that cleaning works best for me a little at a time. If I take 10 minutes here and there throughout the day it tends to take less out of me than spending an hour cleaning all at one time.

I also try to schedule my life so that I don't overtax myself. I schedule things in advance and make sure that I allow for rest time after any event I participate in. For example, if I have a doctor's appointment one day, I make sure the day after is clear so that I can have time to recover if I need to. When things come up unexpectedly, I allow myself to say no if it's something I feel I can not do, and I refuse to feel guilty about it.

How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
I try to take one day at a time as much as possible. I become overwhelmed when I think of the future and the reality of my illness, so I focus on how my illness affects me in the short term. This allows me to find joy in the small things and focus on the good instead of thinking about how miserable my body feels.

If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
That getting a diagnosis isn't the magical fix I thought it would be. I was undiagnosed for so long, I thought getting a diagnosis would make everything better. Unfortunately it was really the beginning of a long, hard road that didn't lead to a recovery like I had hoped.

Do you have a blog you would like to share?
My blog is Chronic Mom. You can also find me on Facebook.

Would you like to be featured on Facing Forward? If so, please send an email to  

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