Friday, 8 January 2016

10 changes that make life better (since I became ill)

We no longer run two cars. There are two sides to this, I no longer have the independence that I did as I can’t just jump into the car and go out without taking Mr J into consideration, but I also don’t make unnecessary journeys. The downside for Mr J is that is has to do all the driving. I am still not safe to drive his car yet, while I still fall asleep almost without notice being behind a steering wheel is not safe for me or for others on the road. Travel is now more considered and we combine tasks into one journey. This is better for our wallet and the environment.

We eat differently. I now eat gluten free and Mr J certainly eats less gluten but still gets to enjoy homemade bread. I cook from fresh whenever possible and am conscious of what is in each ingredient. There are foods that I give a wide berth because they make me feel rotten and foods that I have a reaction to, so I avoid them altogether. I cook more food than we need at any one meal and freeze the extra portions. This means that on the days that I do not feel up to cooking Mr J can quickly find something for us in the freezer. We rarely eat out. Going out to eat used to be a regular activity for us, but often I am too tired to sit in a restaurant and finding food that is gluten free and also avoids all the other things that I react to is very difficult, so it’s simpler, safer and definitely cheaper to eat at home.
We have slowed down. Not in a ‘come to a grinding halt’ way although this does happen to me on a regular basis, but we have stopped rushing everywhere. We are taking time to appreciate what we are doing, where we are and how lucky we are to be where we are. If we have to be somewhere at a certain time we give ourselves more time to get there, so there is less pressure and less stress to the journey. By taking time to appreciate more, I’ve found that I get great pleasure in so many things that I used to take for granted.
I rest more. This was forced on me rather than being an active choice and to begin with I really struggled with having to sit or lie still for long periods. Feeling desperately ill for 5 months took its toll and I was exhausted by the very nature of the illness, but as I’ve learnt to slow down I have also learnt to take proper rests. This doesn’t mean a quick sit down with a cuppa, it means lying down completely. It doesn’t just mean resting my body, but also my mind. I guess it’s like meditating, I’ve learnt to rest my mind from the busy racing thoughts and to just enjoy the moment of calm and quiet. This rest is often more refreshing than sleeping.

I value my friends more. Since I don’t go out as much as I used to I don’t socialise as much as I did, but I’ve also come to value my friends in a way that I didn’t before. When I saw lots of people on a regular basis I ‘knew’ lots of folks without really knowing many of them. My circle of friends and acquaintances has diminished but the quality of the friendships that I do have has grown exponentially. I’ve certainly been surprised that some people who I thought were friends were obviously only acquaintances or friends by circumstance, whereas some who I didn’t know very well have become good friends.

I consider the impact of my actions. Because I am more aware of how everything impacts on my health, I am also more aware of how my actions impact on others and the world around me. On a physical level I am more conscious of the waste of energy, the type of chemicals and type and source of the food that we are using, and I am more aware of how my behaviour may impact on others, on their physical health or emotional wellbeing.
I celebrate more. As a result of slowing down, valuing friendships, my circumstances and times when my health is good enough to take part in activities, by being more considered and considerate I have found pleasure in so many more things and found more reasons to be grateful and to celebrate. I don’t mean a ‘let’s throw a party’ kind of celebration, sometimes it’s a very quiet, personal acknowledgement and sometimes it’s a share it with Mr J or my family and friends moment. The more I celebrate, the more I find to be thankful for and that’s a very pleasing circle of thought.

I plan more. This isn’t a plan to do more, but an action plan for the things that I want to do. I am organised in my daily routine. As a result of having very little energy to achieve the things I’d like to, I have to be careful about not taking on too much at any one time. So Mr J and I have lists and plans of how we are going to tackle tasks. I have had to learn how much (or little) that I can do in a day and adjust my expectations accordingly. So for example, if I want to spend a chunk of the morning outside creating our fruit and vegetable garden, I know that our main meal for the day will need to be at lunch time as I will have run out of energy by early afternoon and won’t be able to cook an evening meal (that’s when the home-cooked frozen meals are so useful). I know that if we want to go shopping for food or anything else that I need to do it as early as possible in the day and walk very slowly. It’s much harder to just stop what I am doing and stand absolutely still or sit on the floor until the pain subsides when I’m in the middle of a supermarket or crossing a road. So I plan early morning activities knowing that the pain increases throughout the day and the tiredness is frequently overwhelming by early afternoon. I have been pleasantly surprised at just how much I can achieve in a short space of time if I plan it carefully.
I listen more. As a result of slowing down, planning more and considering my actions more I take more time to listen to others and to myself and actually hear what is being said. The positive result is that I am gaining better understanding all the time and this in turn is making me more patient. Patient with others and with myself and this, I think, can only be a good thing.
I appreciate more. I seem to say thank you more than I used to and more fully appreciate the help, care and love that I am being offered and given. Hand in hand with this better appreciation and all the other changes that are taking place, I feel better able to respond appropriately and to give more to those around me. And that in itself is a real pleasure.

So from the negativity of being ill I have found some changes that will, I hope, continue to have a positive effect.


  1. I love your positive attitude - too many people would sit back & moan, expect everyone else to run around for them, & be unappreciative of whatever assistance they got. It's brilliant that you seek to find the positive in what's happening

  2. An interesting post. Well done on these changes, which all seem sensible ones to me. Flighty xx

    1. Thanks Flighty, it's all a learning process and so far it all feels good. Liz


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