Welcome September, it’s a quasi new year with the cooler weather right around the corner. The days will become shorter as we expect the coming of the new school year. I will be watching the kids on the first day headed back to school, new shoes pinching their toes and wearing winter sweaters that are a tad too warm but new and must be shown off. There is an overall sadness that the summer and its warm longer days are gone.
Leaves will be soon be changing colours and falling to the ground. This will surely be followed by pumpkin`s, warm blankets, heavy sweaters and fireplaces filled with burning wood. The harvest is coming. It is a great time of year for many and was for me a long time ago. But now with a chronic illness the season`s change is a huge cause of anxiety.
Last year was the first year I started to track my health journey but I don’t feel like I have gotten to the point where I can predict how my health issues will change with the winter. Maybe I shouldn’t try to compare year to year but I have only bad memories and some anxiety moving toward the fall and into winter. I don’t know what to expect to happen with my health and I am terrified of getting a cold or worse yet the flu. It is a constant battle to be sure that I stay away from those that are sick and who try to minimize it by calling it allergies. Everyone seems to have a way of trying to minimizing their illness and they refuse to listen to how serious it could be for me. These are the same people who always have advice on how my chronic illness should be managed. They just don’t seem to get it.
Last year I only got sick twice but haven’t been in hospital since!
Looking back to 2015 I was very sick going into the fall and winter but of course at that time, I was still unaware how sick I really was.
When my mind wonders to 2016 I know that I was sick and I was unable to predict how or what to expect.
I had returned to work in mid Oct just as the colder weather was setting in. I knew I was still too sick to be back at work but I kind of forced myself to return to ensure keeping my medical benefits. How else was I going to be able to afford the oxygen and other meds prescribed to me as life saving measures.
So when I returned I felt like if I was going to jump in, it may as well have been with both feet. The job itself is not too taxing and I can surely do it. The nightmarish part was getting to and from the car. It was brutal and it seemed every day was a new and complex problem.
Travel was much harder than I anticipated and I surely would not have managed had my daughter not been there. She made sure we parked close to the front door and would drop me off and go park the car. She patiently waited while I caught my breath and got to my desk. She was there if I needed anything and she supported and encouraged me along the way.
The thing I remember most was getting out of the car in the morning and completely losing my breath.
I felt like a balloon that had lost its air. It was freezing cold out and
I had to sit in the parking lot on my walker because I was unable to move, and had to stay there until I regained my breath. Sometimes I had snow or rain beating against my face but still ,I could not move.
I asked the people from my support groups for their tips and tricks and took them to heart. I took my puffer at least a 1/2 hour before I left the house. I ate a proper breakfast, I took all recommended vitamins. I equipped myself with a balaclava to cover my mouth and warm the breath I was taking in. The car was warmed for at least 5 minutes before I got into it. I covered up and kept warm with layers so as not to overheat. I exercised every day and washed my hands frequently and did everything that I could do to avoid getting sick again.
So, this year I am looking back at last year with a sense of warning. I am very scared of what is to come and how I will handle it. As a I was writing this post, I realized that the only real problem with returning to my former life were not the job itself but the transportation issues.
Mindfulness was one of the best resources I use for my mental health. It teaches me to be in the moment, and how to get from one step to the next, drinking it all in with all your senses and taking your time while doing it. I try not to buy into the memories and keep telling myself that just because it happened last year it doesn’t mean that it will be the same and happen this year. I am trying to be mindful and take a slow pace.
It is either that or I stop doing the things that I need to do.
Do I let this Chronic Illness that affects my lungs and heart stop me? No I forge ahead.
Next week we will talk about some of the changes you could make to your home and your routine to keep yourself as safe as possible.