Keep Going & Never Give Up!

I know! Its been a while! This blog has taken the backseat for the last little while. Its had to because things have been rather tough for me lately. Every day is a task to get through at the moment, and so I need to be careful and make sure I’m not taking on to much. My pain levels have been all over the place, and we’re trying to figure out why the surgery site in my back isn’t improving. The surgery site in my back has been getting more painful along with a constant headache that nothing seems to take away. My week was spent having a few tests done to try and determine what might be wrong. With any luck I will be able to avoid surgery!!! I’ve been spending a lot of time flat on my back and forget trying to lift anything remotely heavy because that just isn’t happening. Even bending over to tie my shoes is painful.

Going into this implant replacement I knew that I had to go all in if I wanted to see an improvement in my pain control. So no matter how long the healing time or what I have to face I’m in it for the long haul. That means enduring whatever twists and turns come along the road, and so far there have been a few of those! There might be a few more before all is said and done so I remain as positive and focused on the big picture which is pain relief. A few years ago I committed to this process of the implants no matter what the outcome was or what I had to endure. I’m hopeful that over time things will get better, there are times however where my will is challenged. At times its scary or even frustrating but I don’t regret making the choice I did even though its been pain stakingly hard at times.

To say that the battle through this illness has been tough is an understatement. I don’t know why but today I started thinking about the amount of time that I’ve been living with chronic pain. Or maybe because the pain has been really bad as of late and I just need it to leave. So I thought just out of interest I’d see just how long its been! When I sat down and did the math nine years at 365 days, 24hrs a day translated into 78,840 hrs that I’ve lived with constant pain. No wonder some days seem so long and make you feel so tired and want to give up! If you live with chronic pain or CRPS then you can totally relate to what I’m saying.

There are days when your living with an illness like CRPS when you have to muster all your strength just to get out of bed. This morning was one of those mornings but for some reason I knew I had to do it. Its a good thing I did because in church this morning our pastor used this quote in his message and I can’t tell you how much I could relate to itLook.

 

” If your going through hell keep going”

-Winston Churchill

 

Funny how God works but there was a very direct message in this quote and there’s no need to explain it! Such simple words but such a powerful message. The message at today’s service was one I needed to hear because at times when I feel discouraged or frustrated about how much I’ve had to endure with this illness I need to remember just what God says about facing the trials I do in my life.

James 1 2-4 says this:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”

When you break down this peace of scripture what he means by this is that when your faith is tested and you endure and persevere it causes you to grow or flourish in the midst of that adverse circumstance. If I make the right decisions through the trials that I face, then things can actually work for me instead of against me and eventually I’ll be able to come out on top.

I guess this peace of scripture really speaks to me because I’m seeing this play out in my own life. I’ve faced many trials as I’ve been walking along on this journey. Each trial I face tests my faith more and more. As it gets tested my endurance gets that much stronger and I’m seeing myself grow in ways that I never thought I’d see. As hard as some days may be I know that God is there every step of the way and its so encouraging when He’s there to pick me up like He did today when I need it the most.

 

 

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Fear Has No Place!

Six years later and 350 posts and this thing is still going! It seems like just yesterday that I wrote my first post for this blog but you blink and time just passes in an instant. I was looking through some of my older posts, and so much has changed over that time in this very personal battle with my CRPS. I’ve met so many people as I’ve been on this journey, and I wanted to take a minute to say thanks for all the support and encouragement. Especially knowing that some of you are in that same fight right along with me! Its that support and knowing that we aren’t alone in all of this that gets us through those really hard days.

Its hard to believe the amount of time that’s gone by, and some days it seems like double that amount of time. As each day goes by I gain more hope and confidence that doctors will find a cure for the illness that tries to tear apart peoples lives bit by bit. I’m reminded in a heartbeat just how cruel this disease can be whenever my pain gets really bad. The difference now though is that I’ll never let it defeat me! God has my back through all of this and fear has no hold over what I can or can’t do within my life. Don’t think for a minute that fear hasn’t been a factor as I’ve had to deal with my CRPS because it most definately has. The difference is that I’ve decided to not let it take root in my life.

Once again the plan was to finish this post yesterday but as has happened before my brain goes into shutdown! Its frustrating because I have so much to write. With this illness however there are days where it hurts to think, and I mean that in the literal sense!! Its one of those times where my pain is bad causing lots of mental blocks, and I’ve had to learn not to fight it. You’ve heard all this before so there’s no need to really get into it!!

Before I get too far off topic I’d better get things back on course. In this post I really wanted to speak towards fear because it can have such a grip on a persons life. I’ve posted about this topic before but only because I speak to so many people who deal with it as they try to manage their way through a chronic illness. Its one of those topics that is so important if your going to be able to move forward in your own personal journey against your illness. Fear is one of those things that tries to find a way in through any crack it can, and it doesn’t take much for it to take a stronghold in your life. Do you allow fear to take you down a road you don’t want to go?

Life in general throws all kinds of curveballs at you and some of those involve fear. When you add chronic illness to the mix everything is more complex. Fear makes itself more present because it has more of an oportunity to do so. As long as this illness affects my life then there will always be fear that tries to creep into my life and take me down a path I don’t want or need to go down. I’ve made the hard decision however that fear doesn’t have any place in my life and that with Gods help I can keep it away.  Even after my my most recent surgery I had to spend time blocking out some of those questions that fear can attach itself to.

I’ve always been straight forward and honest about my feelings on my site and I’m not going to stop now. When fear tries to show up in my life I pull out the biggest weapon that I have! GOD! Whenever there is any type of fear that tries to show itself in my life I give it to God and He always sets me free of it. So ask yourself one question tonight. Does fear have a stronghold on your life as you deal with your chronic illness?

 

 

 

 

 

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A Moment Away From CRPS

After arriving home from a great family trip late last Wed night, I had nothing left in me to write a post! I decided that I needed to give my body a few days after arriving home to get itself not only calmed down but turned around. We had a great time as a family in Cancun, and the last thing we wanted to do was come home to the freezing cold. The holiday met all our expectations and more! Not only did we get a lot of time as a family but my wife and I got a lot of much needed alone time as well. Every morning we’d wake up in our room and hear the crashing waves only to open the curtains to this amazing view!

My only regret on the trip was that I made the decision to not take my camera gear along with me on this trip. It was a hard decision to make because I knew there would be all kinds of photo ops presenting themselves to me but family and rest was the purpose of this trip and not pictures. We weren’t planning on leaving the resort and so that was another factor in making my decision not take it. As law would have it however the first day there, I looked next door to our resort to find an old abandonded hotel that was destroyed by Hurricane Wilma in 2005! Naturally the photographer in me came alive and I started seeing possible pictures before my eyes!

I’d been looking forward to taking this trip since we booked it in Sept, and so when surgery happened in Oct it made recovery all the more important so that I wouldn’t have to miss out! The travel is a great way to distract myself from the pain. However the reality is that its expensive and I can’t do it as much as I’d like to.

The relaxation was great though and I was able to calm my nervous system down while laying beside the pool most days! While I did some reading or even had the occasional sleep these two little monsters had a great time swimming or even meeting different kids from different places throughout the world. After the type of year I had last year it was good to just laugh and smile a bit more. I’m so thankful for the family that I have and the amazing support that they give me all the time. Even though I had to put up with my pain and the daily flareups I still feel as though it didn’t stand in the way of us having a good time. My girls had the time of their lives and that’s what mattered the most! As I’ve said numerous times before I don’t want to see CRPS limit me in the things that I want to do and the places that I want to go! I have a lot of this world left to see and I’m not about to stop. So check off Cancun and on to the next destination! The only thing I need to do after this trip was find a way to excercise because I ate way to much while we were there. I’m sure if I stepped on a scale that I will have gained about twenty pounds after all that amazing food!

After arriving home the temperature swing from 31C to -31C really shocked my nervous system and I’m sure its why my body is a bit more cranky than normal. I’m hopeful however that the extreme temperatures will start to ease in the next month or so! It just needs to smarten up or I need to move to the heat! Did I mention that I still have a mental picture of this beach in my mind, with the turqoise blue waters!

Okay! Time to get this post finished as the first week back was kind of crazy and I just wasn’t able to get to finishing this thing up. So its time to put the my nose to the grindstone and get this thing done. In lots of ways I feel like I have too many things that need attention right now. I don’t however have the energy to get it all done. There are two things that I’m really struggling with since having my surgery and that’s energy and the ability to lift any weight at all. I find that even lifting a shopping bag that’s moderately heavy is too much and almost kills me. So trying to push, pull, and lift are all things that I have real trouble with still. The pain doesn’t take a break because with CRPS it never will but over the last week I was able to take a break from focusing on the pain. Every day I watched my two girls take on new adventures and that brought a smile to my face. Both of my girls tackled the rock climbing wall that was there, a little nervous at first but eventually getting the hang of things! In this picture you see my little girl Katelyn scaling it to the top. Then they took a zip line down from the top.

 

So after a hard morning of climbing and zipping the girls would cool off by either doing some water sliding or laying by the pool eating a plate of fries! Yes vegatables seemed to be a rarity on this vacation for them. We would try but over and over they wanted fries and chicken nuggets. It was vacation so we weren’t going to force the issue to much, but it was funny! It was just fun seeing them have so much fun and be kids for a change. What so many people miss is that these kids are growing up with a parent who is battling chronic illness. So life for them is just a bit different because there are lots of times when they have to hold back on that because it affects dad in so many ways. It was the perfect enviroment for them to let loose and just be kids.

When your a family that deals with chronic pain your everyday routine is often a bit different and it can be more taxing on all of you. The moments of stress or tension within the family dynamic are often greater and you have to try hard to laugh at things even when you don’t exactly feel like laughing. This trip helped ease all that stress and for once we could just laugh at each other and smile as we had a good time!

 

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Change Within Part One!

For several months now my health has been touch and go and I didn’t know if I’d have to get a refund on our trip to Cancun or not. I can’t tell you how many times it went through my head that this trip just wasn’t going to happen, even though I just wouldn’t admit it to myself.  Looking forward to something fun for a change that doesn’t have anything to do with my health was a welcome change. Well I’m happy to say that in less than twenty four hours we get on that plane for a fun filled holiday full of relaxing on a beach doing absolutely nothing. Normally when we travel we like exploring the region and taking in all that destination has to offer. That won’t be happening on this trip. This time I’m perfectly happy to go and park myself on a beach and not move! Let’s just say my body won’t let me right now!

Now that we are going its time to get last minute details taken care of, and lets just say that there are a lot to take care of. Then there’s this here blog that would normally write a post from wherever I was going so that you can enjoy the same scenery as I am except for one small detail! That YOUR really not there! Not that I want to rub it in because I don’t. The only people I want to do that to are the friends and family that are back home in -30C weather spending day after day shoveling!! I regret to inform you that I won’t be able to do that this time because I won’t be on the internet. With what your paying for in an all-inclusive trip you’d expect that WiFi would be included, where they can make money however they will! So I won’t be bringing you any pictures until I get back. I’m hoping to get around to writing a couple more posts that will publish while I’m away but I’m not sure if I’m that organised this time!

From a pain standpoint things are up and down as always, with some just needing to find that alone time to calm down the nervous system. Those days are very few and far between when you have a nervous system that’s always on edge and doesn’t seem to ever calm down! Its the life that I have to live with and have had to learn to accept along with everything it brings with it. Nobody said this was going to be an easy road, and believe me what I’ve had to endure over the last few years has been anything but a walk in the park. In some ways I feel like over the past year its been one big character building exercise that I’ve been put through. As a result I feel like God has been building me into someone stronger more resiliant, ready to take on anything and everything.

Through this lengthy trial that I’ve had to walk through, I feel as though I’ve been discovering who I really am inside and the person that God created me to be. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again but for the longest time I struggled with what was going on inside myself after being diagnosed with my CRPS. For starters I felt lost and like my self-esteem had sufford a major blow. I had just brought my daughter home from China and I questioned how I was going to be as a father dealing with a disability. Then there was the guilt of my wife having to not only watch me go through this, but to have to take on so much extra and not be a stay at home mom! As if that wasn’t enough I couldn’t stop thinking about what life was going to be like for myself in the future. All of these feelings took several years to deal with.

Somehow in the middle of all these storms and all the trials something changed and a strength and the ability to be extremely happy with my life has come about. How does that happen? In part two of this post I’ll be looking at that! So until next week goodbye and its off for some fun in the sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Establishing Friendships!

I’m back! I’d hoped to get around to this a few days ago but time and pain just didn’t allow me to get around to it. My pain doesn’t really know which way to go at the moment, one minute its up and the next its down at a more controlled level. This recovery has been a lesson in patience and let me tell you at times it where’s very thin. I will manage to get through this however and in the meantime focus on  getting away with my family on a vacation to sunny and hot Cancun, Mexico in two weeks time. We booked the trip back in Sept before I knew I was having surgery. My surgeon has now given me the ok to travel, and I can’t think of a better place to heal!

The countdown is on and every day my girls get more and more excited about going! There isn’t a day where they aren’t asking about the resort or the fun things we are going to do. Fun for mom and dad will be lazing by the pool while the kids enjoy the kids club. A hot holiday in the dead of winter always helps to break up the cold and the extra pain that it causes as a result. Up until a week or two ago we still weren’t sure if we might have to cancel however now we are a definate go! There are so many things I’m looking forward to on this trip but family time, hot weather, and relaxation top the list. Our family needs some time to laugh and enjoy just being with each other after last year being such a tough year. I’m looking forward to it being yet just another part of putting the last six months behind me and just being able to move forward.

My brain is doing its thing tonight and its a fight to put the thoughts down on paper. Its the one side of this illness that never gets easier to cope with. It can hit you out of the blue and you never know how long its going to last. People in the CRPS community call it brain fog and there are several reasons that people with chronic pain have to deal with it. I’ll make the best of it though and try and put together a post that makes some sense. So have patience with my post tonight because I’m operating on half a brain!!

Lately what’s been on my mind is the importance of having friendships within the chronic pain world. Fighting your way through a chronic illness of any type can be hard if you have nobody else that understands your pain. I’m not talking about family or friends but rather those who suffer besides you who truly understand your pain! Your family and friends can be the best of support but there’s something different  about those that can relate to what your living through when their living it themselves. It takes away having to explain yourself so much. I can’t tell you how many times in a day I have to explain myself to others about what I go through on a daily basis. Or even the number of times that one has to justify themselves to others because the person on the other end can’t understand what the person sick is having to go through every day.

Establishing friendships within the chronic pain world is important for a lot of reasons. First and foremost it helps build that strong support network that you need and is vital in walking through this journey. For a person living through a chronic illness, that frienship with another sufferer might help them during those times when they lack that person they need in their life. Someone who listens and gives them feedback. Secondly those friendships can be important in helping you think objectively about your illness. It helps to have that person there who’s living what your living who can help you in making some of the decisions that you face within your disability. Not because loved ones or friends aren’t able to help in those decisions but because those affected by chronic illness are facing some of the same circumstances and its easier to relate on a more even playing field.

The other reason that we need to make friendships within the chronic pain world is because we are powerful in numbers. We are never going to beat down the disease called CRPS unless we come together as a comunity and make our voices be known. Unless we are willing to put ourselves out there and kick and scream for research to be done then we won’t see a cure being found. It takes more than two or three people to come together! If we aren’t seeing the funding, research, and the awareness being raised then we need to stand up as a community and fight for it. Its all in for me and so for the last little while I’ve been working on establishing relationships and trying to be a part of making a difference. Are you going to join the cause?

 

 

 

 

 

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Are You Willing To Raise Your Game?

Well I’m back in writing mode again today. It was a busy week that started out last weekend, celebrating Ethiopian Christmas with a group of other adoptive parents. There isn’t a day this week where we haven’t had something on the books with our kids. Throw in my daughters 11th birthday and it made for a really crazy week! Somewhere in there came trying to find a way to manage my pain. With flare ups being frequent at the moment I need to stay on top of things. As I mentioned in my last post its a new year bringing with it new strength, hope, and vision.

This week I kicked off my plan to be more aggresive in bringing awareness CRPS. I did some snooping around to see where we stand not only in my province of Saskatchewan but in Canada in regards to chronic pain. What I found I had already come to expect to a certain degree! What I found made me mad and in a lot of ways I’m even more fired up about making a difference and creating change. I want to find some answers when it comes to CRPS and chronic pain in general. Sure we know a lot more than we did five years ago but we are barely scratching the surface when it comes to answering a lot of the harder questions.

To tell you the honest truth I had half of this post written and decided that I had to go back and change everything because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to write this. I had started listing specific faults and mentioned specific names of organizations when it really wasn’t about that. After my blood stopped boiling and a level head returned, I deleted everything and started fresh! My intentions were not to lay blame but to find the areas of opportunity that need to be fixed or improved upon. Trust me when I say there is room for oportunity in so many different areas when it comes to the fight against Chronic Pain and CRPS! One of the things I will point out is that several websites of organizations were not up to date or lacked information on events, or information on chronic pain. In my opinion these are key areas that you can’t ignore or forget about. What we can’t forget though is that in order for these organizations to function they rely heavily on volunteers to help them.

So when I look at it with this perspective then it takes on a different light. Without volunteers that information sometimes can’t be filled in on websites. It then leads me to what am I trying to do to make a difference? Am I giving time of myself to try and bring about change or am I just sitting back waiting for other people to make it happen? Nobody is saying that you have to take on a major role! Maybe a strength of yours is organizing, and you could put together an event in your community. Even doing the simplest of things like writing a letter can make a difference. After going through a few sites that’s exactly what I decided to do. I wrote a letter to the Minister of Health here in Saskatchewan asking a few questions about what’s being done here in my province to fight the battle against chronic pain. I took it one step further however and wrote a second letter to the Minister of Health for Canada asking a few of the same questions just on a larger scale.

Unless we take a good hard look at what’s being done at all levels, then we really don’t have our finger on the pulse to help raise awareness or changed to help facilitate a cure. Change can take place but it takes a team effort to make that happen on all levels, meaning right from government to those of us that suffer and all the others in between. After digging a little deeper however it couldn’t be more evident that as a community of sufferers of chronic illness that we need to raise our game! I will personally state that I don’t do enough and need to find a way to raise my game. I think its easy to sit around and wait for change to happen, but difficult to push yourself to become involved and be a part of the change!

So my challenge to you is this. Do whatever it might be no matter how big or how small to get involved to do your part and bring about change!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Fresh Start!

The New Year is under way and now its time to get back at it. After some great family time out at the lake we are back into routine with the kids with school, sports, and everything else that makes life busy. Then throw in a chronic illness and it makes for a lot of fun! Even though our family fought through colds and sickness over Christmas we still had a fantastic time with the rest of the family. We even welcomed a New Years baby into the family on Jan 1, 2015. My nephew and his wife welcomed their baby girl named Everly Jean 7lbs 12oz into the world! Congrats to Ward and Nicole! On the pain front things have been up and down. I’m trying to keep myself as distracted as possible and push through all the flare ups which have been coming often as I continue to heal from surgery.

A big thanks to Julie for putting together a guest post for me while I was away as well! It was nice to get away and have everything organized to the point where I didn’t have to even get near a computer. Now if I can only put together a few posts to try and stay ahead of the game this year. I’m not big on putting together New Years resolutions but if I had one this year it would be that I’m going to do a better job with with being a advocate towards CRPS. I’ve already started making some minor changes to my site and there will be a few more coming. It’s really a matter of organizing a few things and adding others. I haven’t felt stronger about making connections within the chronic illness community and trying to make a difference.

As I’ve mentioned before 2014 was a challenging year but I believe it has changed me in some very positive ways that I need to now pursue. As I start 2015 I’m  choosing to put last year behind me, and getting to work on the list of goals I’d like to accomplish this year. Its time to start doing a lot of praying and beat down my CRPS to take back control. My photography has been a big part of that giving serving as a great distraction but because of my physical health had to be put on the back burner a lot last year. So for this year a goal of mine will be to get all of that back on track. So far that’s off to a good start as I’m already making some changes to my photography website Ross McCreery Photography. Along with my main photography website I now have a Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/RossMcCreeryPhotography that updates my latest work. Check in on both because there are a few surprises in the works.

There isn’t much of a message to today’s post except that I’m starting fresh for this year full of more strength and determination! Once again God has helped me get through a lot over the past year and it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t acknowledge that. Without His guidance to get through the recovery over the last couple of months I would have without a doubt gone crazy! I also know that even though I’m still recovering that there are some very powerful lessons to be taken away from all of this. Once all the dust clears and I’m fully recovered I’m sure I’ll be able to reflect on those but for now I’m still trying to navigate my way through things. Like I’ve said on so many occasions it doesn’t matter if its a big victory or a small victory because a victory is a victory! Each one draws you closer to the biggest victory of them all defeating your chronic illness!

 

 

 

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CRPS 2014

It isn’t very often that I’m able to be organized enough that I can take time away from writing posts for this site. However this Christmas I wanted this time away from writing so that all my time could be spent with family, not tied up on a computer writing every couple of days. In other words it’s a technology free Christmas including phone! Cottage time at Christmas is always cozy full of great visits with family, good food, and we can’t forget down time from life in general. It can be hard to carve out time like this so I want to take full advantage of it.

As we get get closer to the end of the year its once again time to look back and look at what 2014 had to offer. It was an interesting year to say the least, and one in which I’d really like to put behind me. I’m sure the rest of the family would be in total agreement with me. Now that my surgery is done and over with hopefully I can get back on track and start moving forward again. There might be some recovery still but at least the worst is behind me. All the waiting for surgery and the extra pain made it really hard to stay positive and there were a lot of times where I just found it hard to keep going. There were moments through the year where I really had to stay on top of my attitude and make sure that I didn’t let myself sink to where I didn’t want to go. With CRPS it’s so easy to slip into a depression without even being aware because of the fight that your enduring every day. I’m looking forward to a year filled with more positive and more victory over this illness.

Throughout this last year there were lots of days filled with moments where feelings of anger could have come rushing back if I had let them. God is good however and He helped me work through those moments. Through the year there were constant reminders of just how raw the emotion could be at times. Just the other night the emotional stress of dealing with CRPS came rushing back when I was in the ER with my daughter. There was a patient that had come into ER who was beside us and she was dealing with chronic pain. The doctor had asked her how she was dealing with that pain. She answered him by saying that she had been fighting as hard as she could, but that it had gotten to the point where she was having suicidal thoughts. It almost made me start crying because I knew exactly how she was feeling! I knew just how much pain she was dealing with and how it can push you to your very max.

I guess that what got me thinking about this post. It’s been a year filled with being pushed to my max but every time God has helped me get through. I’m looking forward to an upcoming year where I see good things and more small victories. It wasn’t that the year was terrible because if I see a lesson in this last year it was that I was being tested over and over. What choice was I going to make in how I dealt with all the challenges I faced? Was I going to choose to let them defeat me and rise up and see the positive? Over and over this was something that I faced last year and every time I rose up and decided I was going to defeat any negative that tried to seep in. That’s not saying that it was easy because lots of times I wanted to let it seep in but I didn’t. I had my moments where it was hard to get out of a funk but I always found a way to see the positive through all the negative.

I’m glad this year is coming to an end and I wish you a Happy New Year! If you’ve had a bad year or a tough year, I hope 2015 is the year that things turn around for you and that you see amazing things happen in your life. Most of all I hope you see victory over the illness you face!

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Tis The Season: 13 Ways To Enjoy The Holidays Without Getting Stressed Out!

As you read this I’m relaxing with family trying for a moment to put pain behind me focusing on laughing and having fun! During the coarse of this week I’m trying to stay away from the computer to focus on being with family. I hope those of you that read my blog are having a great Christmas with family and friends. Wishing only the best for you over the holidays and see you in 2015! In the meantime here’s a post that’s been prepared by a blog friend Julie over at “it’s just a bad day, not a bad life”. Like me she is a CRPS sufferer and advocate. Please check out her site in the link below to find out more about her.

When you think of the holidays are you more like Buddy the Elf or Gumpy Cat? Some of us can’t wait for January 1st, whereas others dread January 1st as the season will be over! Which ever you are, getting a handle on your stress with help with flare ups and allow you to enjoy more of the holiday activities!

What can cause stress?

EVERYTHING!

Traditions, high or unrealistic expectations, money, family, disappointing family and friends, traveling, family photos, shopping, not getting enough sleep, drinking and eating too much, forgoing normal patterns, decorating, holiday parties, seeing old friends, perfectionism . . . and I could go on and on!

And you’re probably thinking

“It’s just a little stress . . . right? It doesn’t matter. Once the holidays are over I’ll go back to being healthy and less stressed and things will be fine.”

WRONG!

Your body doesn’t care if it’s a big stress or a little one; if it’s temporary or chronic. It still reacts the same way! Regardless of the stressor, stress can affect our body in many predictable ways. Did you know that there are approximately 1,400 different biochemical events that are fired off when we encounter stress? And we wonder why we get headaches, gain weight, experience aches and pains, why our energy is depleted and why we eat and drink more!

An even scarier fact is that because of our society today, we’ve become mentally numb to many stressors in our lives! We may not even realize how stressed our body really is because we’re so used to life’s pressures and expectations. That is, until we experience a flare up.

But there is a positive fact in all of this!

We have the power to control how we respond to stress! We don’t need to be the victims of our own emotions, thoughts and attitudes. We can control how we respond to stress and we can become more sensitive to stressful situations. There are proven, scientific ways to help rewire our brains! So instead of grabbing that bottle of eggnog, try one of these ideas instead!

Exercise your mind, body and soul!


• Mindfulness
• Be present in everything you do
• Eating
• Shopping
• Driving
• Set alarms on your phone to remind you to slow down and take it all in
• Meditation
• Focus on your breath
• Pick a mantra
• Headspace or similar phone app
• Take a meditation class at a local yoga studio

• Mindfulness
• Be present in everything you do
• Eating
• Shopping
• Driving
• Set alarms on your phone to remind you to slow down and take it all in
13waystostressfree

1. Meditation:
When you’re running around, stressed beyond belief- STOP and focus on your breath for a few moments. This can help you take a short time out. You could also pick a mantra and whenever you’re feeling frustrated start repeating it. To get you started into meditation, I always recommend the Headspace app or the Buddify app. Both phone applications break meditation down into a way that is SO doable for the average person! Try it out and see for yourself.

2. Mindfulness:
So often during the holidays we run run run and aren’t really present. Try to be present in everything you do. Whether it’s eating a cookie, shopping for a present, or driving – really focus your attention on what you’re doing NOT on what you still have to do. An easy exercise to help you get into the moment can be achieved by setting alarms on your phone. Set maybe 2 or 3 of them to go off at random times. When they go off, make a conscious effort to be present in your current activity. The simple act of using your alarm can start to help train yourself to tune in to your life and to become more present.

3. Squash Negativity and Amp Up The Positivity:
Don’t let words like ‘never’, ‘worst’ or ‘ever’ into your vocab! X them out forever! If you’re beginning to feel down about a certain situation, see if you can flip your perspective on it! Maybe you do have 58 more things to do on your To Do list, but hey! You already finished 87 of those things – so you gooooo!!! Recognize your wins and celebrate ALL your victories!I also like to write inspiring quotes on post it notes and stick them all throughout my house. They can make me smile and if I’m in a bad mood or upset, they usually can help me start to flip my perspective.

4. Allow yourself to experience your emotions:
The key to squashing negativity is to allow yourself to feel your emotions. It’s ok if you’re feeling sad, mad, scared, tired, upset, frustrated, overwhelmed – feel the heck out of those emotions! You’re obviously feeling them for a reason. If you take the time to feel them and tune into yourself, you can start to unravel the meaning behind each of those emotions. Once you identify your issue, you can begin to become your own biggest cheerleader! What I do is I agree upon a set period I’m allowed to feel sad or frustrated. During that time I cry, scream, yell, be by myself- whatever I need to do to get it out and completely allow myself to fall apart. Once that period is over, I pick up the pieces off the floor and do my best to move on. I focus on things I love and bring a smile to my face.

5. Set Realistic Expectations:
You know it will happen… Aunt Susan will say something negative about your potato casserole. She ALWAYS does! So, you should expect it. Instead of getting upset at Aunt Susan this year and taking it out on Grandma, decide to change the subject and thank Margie for bringing the Ham. Also lumped into setting realistic expectations is realizing that you CANNOT and DO NOT have to do everything yourself. Get your family to help, be clear on how others can help you! Don’t take the whole season on yourself.

6. Don’t Dwell on ‘What If’:
You’ll never know what would have happened if you got to the store 5 minutes earlier or if you would have bought 4 packets of chicken instead of 3. It’s a game you’ll never win – so why play it? Along with the words ‘never’, ‘worst’ and ‘ever’, X this out of your brain!!!!

7. Practice Gratitude:
I could talk for 15 hours on why practicing gratitude is one of the greatest things you could do for yourself. Being thankful for what you DO have really can put a situation in perspective. Each night before bed, I write in my journal what I’m thankful for. It could have been my ability to get out of bed that morning or maybe it was for the ability to stay in bed all day and rest. No matter how many negatives you encounter in a day, there are ALWAYS positives that you can be thankful for!

You can also practice giving gratitude to others while you’re out and about this holiday season. For instance, be thankful for the person leaving the mall and letting you take their parking space, send love and thanks to those volunteering their time to help the less fortunate, and try to do small random acts of kindness. I bet you’ll even end up leaving the holiday season feeling so much better after beginning a gratitude practice!

8. Keep up with your regular exercise program (as best you can)
If you already have a regular yoga, running, cycling, crossfit or weight training program – try to keep up with it. Your body is already in a routine and when you disrupt your rhythm you can end up causing a lot of issues – one major one being a flare! So say YES to that yoga session, even if it ends up being 10-15 minutes long. Every little bit helps!

9. Eat a Balanced Diet
Make sure you’re receiving your proper nutrients this holiday season. And don’t forget to drink your water! I’m not saying don’t enjoy yourself; I’m always of the opinion that we should live by the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time we should eat clean and 20% of the time enjoy ourselves! But if you know that gluten is an inflammation trigger for you or that eating dairy makes your nerves go crazy, try to be cognizant of what you’re eating and pick and choose what’s best for your body.

10. Maintain A Regular Sleep Schedule
Disruptive sleep schedules can wreck havoc on our body’s immune system. And if our immune systems are already compromised then we’re really in trouble! The ironic thing about sleep is that even though we need it so much, often pain and fatigue keep us UP! How can we battle back? The two meditation apps I spoke about earlier have sleep meditations that help relax your body and get your ready for bed. There are different yoga sequences that can help you get into the mood – like legs up the wall, child’s pose, and forward bend. Meditation and yoga sequences are the 2 major players I use to combat the pain that’s keeping me up! Whenever I’m having a really high pain day, I concentrate on breathing into the area of my body that is ailing me. To do this, I’ll take a deep breath in and visualize my breath traveling to my knee (that’s what bothers me the most). Then when I exhale, I visualize my breath diffusing my pain way. As I keep breathing in and out, eventually I ‘diffuse’ the pain enough to where I fall asleep or I get so relaxed and caught up in watching my breath that the relaxation puts me to sleep!

11. Music
Everything in our environment plays a part in our stress levels – even background noise! Do you have a favorite song or artist? If you’re in a bad mood, put it on! I always say there are 2 sure fire ways to get me in a good mood- Celine Dion or Christmas music! I found an infograph that’s actually kind of funny. They took a poll on which Christmas songs people thought were the most relaxing and the most stressful. Take a look at it and remember to steer clear of the ‘stressful’ ones!

12. Aromatherapy
The last 2 years I’ve really been into using essential oils to combat my health and mood. There are so many scents that can help uplift our mood! Make sure you get PURE essential oils (like from doTERRA), NOT fragrance. Fake scents like ‘fragrance’ can actually cause headaches, immune responses and a whole host of problems. Do yourself a favor and steer clear of these. (If you look on the back of perfumes, candles, lotions, shampoos, body wash, etc you’ll see ‘natural fragrance’ or ‘fragrance’ listed quite often. No matter how ‘natural’ they claim they are, if they list fragrance as an ingredient – don’t buy it! It’s not worth the health issues.) And if you don’t have any essential oils try this: put a pot of water on the stove, slice up some oranges, lemons, throw in a few cinnamon sticks, a splash of vanilla extract and whatever else you may have. Let simmer on the stove and your house will smell delicious (and will uplift the spirits of your family!)

Examples of mood elevating oils:
Lemon – uplifting, anti-depressant
Orange – mood-elevating
Peppermint – refreshing, mental stimulant
Rosemary – invigorating
Thyme – refreshing, purifying, herbal

13. Spirituality
And lastly, don’t forget the reason for the season! It doesn’t matter if you celebrate Christmas or Chanukah, there is a huge spirituality aspect of the season. We get so caught up in the big box store’s version of the holiday season that sometimes we forget the actual reason that we’re celebrating. Don’t forget it. In fact, make it a point to FOCUS on the reason this year. I bet you’ll end up enjoying it so much more!

There are many things we can do to help manage our stress, but there are factors that are out of our control. What we can do is try to arm ourselves with a strong toolbox of proven tools that we can call upon when we’re thrust into a stressful situation. Don’t get discouraged either! We didn’t learn to be stressed out overnight, and we’re not going to completely change our thought patterns overnight either. As you work on it, it will start to become second nature. Unfortunately, it is something we’ll have to focus on for the rest of our lives – but if you find techniques that you enjoy, it can add some fun and light to your day!

What kinds of techniques do you pull out when you’re in a stressful situation? Comment below so we can all draw on each other’s experiences!!
Wishing You A Pain Free Day!

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Merry Christmas!

It’s a busy time right now for most of us as we try and get ready for Christmas in a few days. If you have kids like I do then you have concerts and last minute preparations to make before Christmas morning, along with so much more to do. In a few days I’ll be heading out to the lake for Christmas to gather with family for the holidays, so I’m trying to be a bit pro active and organize a few posts for between now and when I get back. I want to take a few days away from the computer in order to focus my time on what’s most important my family! The next post you read will be from my blog friend Julie over at ” it’s just a bad day not a bad life “  who has been nice enough to put together DSC_9288post for me. If you get the chance go on over and check out her site

Recovery continues to be very slow but things are moving in the right direction. It takes next to nothing right now for a flare up to start but I’m managing better than I was which is a good sign. I’m in this for the long haul and there’s a fight starting to come back that’s been missing for a bit. We all go through our periods where discouragement tries to set in, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been dealing with some of that over the last couple of months now. To say that this latest surgery hasn’t knocked me a bit off track wouldn’t be the truth. It’s been really hard to stay focused and positive when the recovery process has been so slow. You begin to wonder if anything will change because from day to day the changes are so small. When this whole implant process began a few years ago I entered into it knowing that there were going to be a few bumps and bruises along the way. Did I expect so many bumps along the way? No! Never in a million years. It comes with the territory though when you sign the paperwork, and you have to deal with it the best you can! I need to look at the fact that in the end, these implants give me hope and do make a difference in my quality of life.

They say the best medicine is to laugh and that’s what I intend to do with our family over the Christmas break. All the schoolwork, sports activities, and other scheduled stuff that makes life so busy will be put on hold for a week to spend time out at the place you see below otherwise known as our cottage. There’s no other place I’d rather be at this time of the year. With the exception of missing all of my family out in Vancouver!

There’s nothing better than all gathering at the amazing rink my inlaws make every year for our families to enjoy. Our cottage is just down the road from here. I couldn’t be more blessed than to have a place like this to go out to every Christmas. Pictures and words really don’t describe how therapuetic this place is when we go out there. It really is like being in a Winter Wonderland with music to skate to as well. Now with my CRPS I can’t skate but I sure can take in all the atmosphere that gets created in this magical place. The laughing and all the good times! The even better memories that have been created over the years in this special place. Not everyone is blessed to have a place like this to go to, and so for that reason I never take it for granted. So for the next week we will move out there and I’ll be able to go to my happy place never forgetting how much God has blessed my life.

I’d like to come back in the new year refreshed and and full of energy. Its been a tough year one that’s seen some downs and distractions taking place. My goals in 2015 are to awaken that fire that’s within me to beat down CRPS and to once again start doing things that people have told me I can no longer do. So often people say that things will never change and that life can never be as good as it was. Well I refuse to see it that way and I expect to see great things for my life. So with that being said Merry Christmas to you all!

 

 

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