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!
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canadian Prairies!)
Diagnoses: Asthma, ADHD + learning issues, uterine fibroids, retinopathy of prematurity, post-septic arthritis
Age at Diagnoses: Moderate persistent asthma (16), ADHD + learning issues (21), uterine fibroids (22), retinopathy of prematurity (birth-ish), post-septic arthritis (>1 month)
How are you currently treating your conditions?
I take multiple medications for asthma and medication for ADHD. I think exercise is really important for my ADHD as well, but when my asthma flares up, it can be hard to get that in--and hard to get back on track once things are better!
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
It's weird, because I am sure there are challenges I've faced, but I really don't focus on them. For me, diagnosis took awhile in all cases, except for in the case of the issues I've had since I was a baby and don't know life without. So getting the diagnosis and having an answer for what was going on was the challenge (ie. my "bronchitis" didn't go away because it was asthma; university was hard for me because I had ADHD and a learning disability that went undiagnosed until I was 4 years in and 21 years old; and no, 22 was NOT too young for the uterine fibroids that tried to kill me and necessitated 5 blood transfusions!) and the getting it sorted out to the extent it could be was the biggest challenge. Otherwise, I focus on the positives, and try to work WITH what I've got rather than working against it--especially in the case of ADHD.
What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
With ADHD, getting the stuff I want to accomplish done can be tough! I've been using the Bullet Journaling technique for over a year now, and it's the only thing I have used relatively consistently other than google calendar, and it fits my brain better! It also doesn't have any guilt attached when I don't use it, because there are only boxes to fill that I make myself!
How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
Focus on the "good things"--a phrase Jay Greenfeld, one of my professors in university, signed his e-mails off with! Both he AND this phrase, mostly the simplicity of it, really changed my perspective about a LOT of things.
If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
This is a speed bump, not a roadblock. You will have experiences in life and make friends--BEST friends-- because of your diagnoses that you would NOT have had otherwise!
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