Today is Day 18 of 31 Days of Surviving Chronic Illness. You can start Day 1 here.
I've talked a lot over the past few days about listening to your body, listening to what it's saying to you. I learned the hard way what the ramifications of not listening to your body can be. If I had slowed down and made some lifestyle and dietary changes (including supplements) back in my 20's I might not have crashed as badly as I did. Crash and burn.
If this is a new practice to you, this listening, let me tell you how to get started.
Most of us (sufferers of chronic illness) did not have 1 big event that caused our immediate physical breakdown. Most of us began falling apart one little system, one hormone, one neuron at a time. Some symptoms may have been subtle, some more noticeable, but there was most likely a pattern or logic to it. And there continues to be a pattern today, a chain reaction of diet, environment and biology. If we want to find some comfort, wellness or healing we need to track these patterns down.
It took me a while to figure it out, but eventually I noticed that sugar has a terrible effect on my already foggy brain. Of course, I crave sugar because it it provides a fast burst of glucose to my already sluggish brain. However, it's sort of like throwing lighter fluid on a fire that has nearly burned out. It will "flash" and burn hot for a short while but burn out completely just as quickly as it ignited. I was eating little bits of sugary snacks or beverages to give me a burst of much needed energy but crashing horribly about an hour later. Eventually, the sugar stopped working altogether and I went from bad to worse within moments of eating it. It was a pattern that I had to figure out and avoid as much as possible.
Maybe yours is exertion related; a little is good but a lot is lethal. Or your symptoms worsen by 500% the next day if you get less than 9 hours of sleep at night. Perhaps your symptoms are aggravated whenever you eat dairy, or pasta or peanuts. Or a stressful situation causes your body to ache for the next 3 days. If you're a girl, you might feel horrible most days but right around ovulation you are guaranteed at least one good day.
It's list time again. It can be a detailed chart with each day, all of your symptoms and a play-by-play of your entire day. Or it can be a simple number written on the calendar, 1-10 bad to best. But devise some way of tracking your symptoms and see if you can begin to notice the patterns of your symptoms or good days/bad days. Some patterns will become obvious right away, others may take weeks or months to pin down, but be diligent with it. It will pay off!
This list can be helpful not only for you but also for your doctor. A good doctor can look at a list of symptoms and quickly eliminate or speculate particular illnesses.
Look for the patterns!