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The Art of Being Chronically Ill

Posted by on Sep 5, 2016 in acceptance, career, coping, Creativity, fears, featured, guest author, inspiration, resilience, Work | 12 comments

This post is guest-written by ChronicBabe HellyTheElephant. It is never easy to be creative. If you have been told you are talented then there is always the fear of a negative response; if you have never felt you are any good, then illness can amplify your lack of confidence. But as that great artist Dr. Seuss put it: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” So…I have my work propped up while I am lying down on my bed in the Hellyphant house (SW England). The blinds are shut, crayons are rolling around the duvet, and I have just dipped my paintbrush in my herb tea. Readers will be relieved that this hellyphant is not wearing the hotpants and striped tights she wore as an art student some moons ago; neither am I sporting a beret and a smock (although come to think of it one would hide my unwashed hair, and the other could conceal my muffin-top…). The first time I was chronically ill was in the nineties. There were no Internet forums (…and no ChronicBabe!), so info was hard to come by, and writings about ME (Myalgic Encephalomyletis) were still in the cave-painting stage. I had been a 22-year-old professional illustrator…Then I got sick. Really sick. And, well, the rest of my story probably follows similar lines to your own: you search for answers, you assume you will get better…until you realise this is going to be a marathon not a sprint (ironic as you definitely won’t be doing either!). Now 26 years greyer, and with ME reducing me to about 30% of function again, (even during my time of being “well” it had never entirely gone away,) not that much is lovelier the second time around. However, I have been really blessed by marriage to Mr. Helliphant (who is also a chronic health dude), and a strong faith. The other thing that is really different is this time I proudly label myself a “Horizontal Artist” due to the fact I can only work lying down. Initially I was happy to have time to be scribbling again, and I drew nature – the flowers friends brought me. I had no idea of how I could paint the sense of frustration and disappointment that was growing week upon week.   There was “That Day.” “That Day” started with the sound of the last straw being added to this elephant’s painful back. I was several days into a grisly flare-up, with no answers from the medics, and in a lot of pain with no effective painkillers. I felt furiously angry at everything and everyone. How...

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Watch Out, Diabetes – Don’t Stand In My Way

Posted by on Aug 26, 2016 in activism, career, coping, featured, guest author, inspiration, resilience | 0 comments

This week’s guest post is written by ChronicBabe Christel. Christel is a blogger, certified personal trainer, bikini fitness competitor and fitness model. She has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1997, and at an early stage decided that that wasn’t going to slow her down. On she writes about Health, Fitness and how to be Fit With Diabetes. She trains people with diabetes from across the globe, online and in person, and supports them in meeting their fitness goals.     I’m probably one of the most stubborn people you will ever come across. …Or you could call it focused or determined. Yes, that sounds better. My husband says I am like one of those huge tankers that needs a lot of time (or an iceberg) to change course. ☺ I have managed to make my stubbornness work to my advantage though (for the most part) and I truly believe there is hardly anything I can’t do if I set my mind to it. I’ve managed to get my MBA, travelled the world, had a successful corporate career, started my own business and, lately, competed in (and won) a fitness competition.     It all starts with your mindset So what does all that determination have to do with my diabetes? Well, it made me decide right away that my 1997 Type 1 diabetes diagnosis would never prevent me from doing and accomplishing everything I wanted in life. Honestly, I never thought twice about that first injection or about arranging my life so that the diabetes didn’t interfere with the things I want to do. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy to manage the diabetes monster, but I would claim that it’s doable if you set your mind to it, take the time to understand your unique reaction to different stimuli, and structure your life so that the diabetes doesn’t run the show but is instead in the background. I know that I am lucky to “only” have diabetes, and none of the other “friends” it can bring along. Additional physical or emotional burdens will of course change the situation and how hard it is to figure out your diabetes management.     How fitness took my diabetes management to the next level   My adventure into fitness and making that my career has actually been what has taken my diabetes management to the next level. I spent a lot of time tuning in, listening to my body, experimenting, and analyzing the outcomes (and a lot of blood glucose testing). To me, that’s the key to learning; experiments and analysis. I’ve found that my body’s reaction to stimuli differs as I get older, but the patterns are...

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5 Reasons Why Leaving My Job and Working From Home Was The Best Decision I Ever Made

Posted by on Aug 15, 2016 in acceptance, career, coping, Creativity, featured, guest author, inspiration, pain, practicalities, resilience, self care, Work | 1 comment

This post was guest-written by Jennifer Kain Kilgore. Find her at her blog, Wear, Tear, & Care here. Hi! My name is Jen, and I’m a 29-year-old attorney, editor, writer, and patient advocate. I have spinal fractures from two car accidents that required two cervical fusions. The jury’s out on whether I’ll need more surgery. I worked in an office for three and a half years after law school. At that point I was dealing with the fallout from my first car accident, which happened in 2004 and decimated my thoracic spine. Law school happened, and then my job, and then… another accident. That second accident became a barrier to a normal life. Eventually I decided to leave my job and work from home. Here are the reasons why it was the best decision I ever made. My health comes first now. I was living the dream: I had a legal job that started at 8 am, ended around 6 pm, had great coworkers, and allowed for a life. My bosses were cool. During my second year, however, I had another car accident. The moment the pain set in, I knew I’d eventually have to leave the traditional workforce. In the year before I left I suffered from increasing pain (which caused repeated vomiting and a hernia), insomnia, loss of control of my hands, limping, muscle spasms, and loss of my ability to focus. In the end, it wasn’t worth it. Now, I telecommute from a recliner. I schedule my day around doctors’ appointments. I work a schedule that flows with when I’m feeling best. Before, there wasn’t time in the day to work on my health, so it controlled me. I am much happier.  The “What should I do?” questions wore down my family –  especially my husband. I steered every conversation in that direction because I wanted someone to say, “No, you can’t work.” I wanted someone to make that impossibly hard decision for me. My husband begged me to think about my health while I thought about finances. How could I leave without a backup plan? What if I made the wrong decision? So I did what is generally inadvisable. I started a side-hustle, working on sites like and to create a cushion for when I made the jump. I don’t know how I did that, because the level of pain at that point was inhuman. I think it’s because I knew that leaving was inevitable. Now, having the weight of that decision off my chest feels unbelievable. I can breathe. I can think. And with that, I can work. I’m not paralyzed. My body doesn’t rebel. The longer I stayed in the office, the more my body fought....

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AWAP Wednesday: Home-Based Business Tips for Sick Chicks

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in career, featured, Work | 21 comments

Today’s AWAP* question comes from a fellow ChronicBabe, who joins a chorus of voices asking me how I make a go of running a business even though I’m a sicko: “How do you stay motivated?  I know there are lots of forums for people who are self employed/work from home, and that they have great tips. “But having a chronic illness adds an extra dimension of complexity to setting up and running your own business. “So I would really appreciate hearing about your own experiences.” I’ve got five tips for y’all to consider today, which I think offer a nice little primer for anyone considering working from home: *AWAP = As Well As Possible Now it’s your turn: Do you work from home? Are you considering starting your own business? I would love to hear about your experience! Join the conversation in the comments below, and share your experience. Want to watch more videos like this? Check out our AWAP Wednesday video playlist, which has almost six hours of guidance, advice, and bloopers. Is there a question I can answer for YOU? Add it to the comments below, or shoot me an email. Until we meet again: Be AWAP! Smooches! (Rough) Transcript: Babes, I get lots of questions about running a business from my home, because many of you are doing so — or considering doing so — in hopes of better managing your health. And it’s true that running your own business from home affords you more flexibility to handle work and health issues at once. But working from home is not easier than working anywhere else. It has its pitfalls. I thought today, I’d give you a peek inside my home office, and talk about how to make a home-based business work for YOU. You need a door.  If you think you can run a business from your dining room table, good luck. Mine is often taken over by crafts, and meals. And while I have a chilled-out, supportive partner who doesn’t mind if the table gets crowded, I think he would not love if I were working there all the time. You need a separate space that’s just for your work. I’m lucky that we can work work out a shared office arrangement, and I keep my space organized, because clutter makes my head explode. I love that I get to have my own space! But sometimes I’m bummed that I have to buy all the ergonomic stuff I need to make my desk healthy. That’s something to keep in mind when planning a home business. You need discipline. Some folks email to ask what motivates me to run my business, and some days, my answer is fear. When the bills stack up...

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AWAP Wednesday: How Do I Handle Fear of Success?

Posted by on Nov 5, 2014 in acceptance, career, fears, featured, friends and family, practicalities, Work | 7 comments

Today’s AWAP Wednesday video answers a question that I hear over and over and over again: What happens if I start to get better? What happens if I succeed, will people expect even more? What happens if I can’t  live up to their expectations? (The question-asker was reading this post on Tiny Buddha which sparked her question.) In the video, I offer a strategy I’ve used in my own life to cope with fears of success. I think we all face this at some time or another, so I’m excited to share a strategy that really works for me. Check out the video now: Now it’s your turn: How do you face fear about success? Have you had difficult situations or conversations about getting better but not meeting the expectations of others? I’d love it if you shared your story in the comments below this video’s post. We have AWESOME conversations every day at the site and I would LOVE for you to be part of the community! Did you like this video? Please “like” it on YouTube or Facebook and share it with your friends through social media. Want to watch more videos like this? Check out our AWAP Wednesday video playlist, which has more than five hours of guidance, advice, and bloopers. Is there a question I can answer for YOU? Add it to the comments below, or shoot me an email. Until we meet again: Be AWAP! Smooches! *AWAP = As Well As Possible A (rough) transcript: A fellow ChronicBabe writes: I was reading a post on Tiny Buddha and it hit me between the eyes, and is really your message in many ways: ‘You know what I was really terrified of? Deep inside of me, there was the awareness that, even if I fit every symptom in the book, I had no excuse to live half a life. Somewhere in there I knew I wasn’t really broken. I was terrified of what my responsibilities would be if I allowed myself to be, truly, whole.’ So, how do you address the fear of being AWAP? If I start to put myself out there and things start to take off… what if I can’t keep up? I’m truly terrified of that!!! Usually meeting one responsibility well means more will be added… Thanks for all you do and for inspiring me and addressing the tough stuff. Well first, thank YOU for your gratitude and trust. I do try to hit the tough topics, and this is definitely one of them that I, myself, fear sometimes. When the question of “what will I do if things go really well?” comes up for me, I try to take a breath. Paradoxically, if I’m fearing success, it usually means...

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AWAP Wednesday: How do you create a healthy home office?

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in career, featured, practicalities, Work | 10 comments

Today, a fellow ChronicBabe asks tells us she is starting her own home-based business. She’s wondering how to set up her space and manage her schedule, among other things. To help her out (and myself, and you too!) I’ve got a list of suggestions about ergonomics, self-care, scheduling and more. Here goes: Now it’s your turn: Do you work from home? What’s your home office set-up? Have you consulted with experts? I’m eager to hear about your experience! Share your story in the comments below this video’s post. We have AWESOME conversations every day at the site and I would LOVE for you to be part of the community! Did you like this video? Please “like” it on YouTube or Facebook and share it with your friends through social media. Want to watch more videos like this? Check out our AWAP Wednesday video playlist, which has more than four hours of guidance, advice, and bloopers. Is there a question I can answer for YOU? Add it to the comments below, or shoot me an email. Until we meet again: Be AWAP! Smooches! *AWAP = As Well As...

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