My name is Ross and I want to welcome you to my site. I'm married to an amazing woman who is my best friend, and my soul mate all rolled up into one! I am the father of two very special girls who we adopted from China & Ethiopia. Together we make up one very multicultural family!
In 2006 my life was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with CRPS/RSD. It was the start of a journey I never could have expected, and one that I couldn't fight without God. CRPS is a chronic pain disease and it started in my left hand. I lost mobility of my hand and started to experience pain unlike I ever could have imagined. Not to long after my left ankle became affected. I spent the better half of about a year not knowing what was going on in my body and traveling from doctor to doctor to find a diagnosis. As time went by I started learning more about CRPS and all its symptoms that it brings with it!
As I started to learn more about CRPS I felt the growing need to share the information I was learning with others and to raise more awareness. As well I want this to be a place where we can connect and support one another. So I would encourage you to contact me if you want.
Well after an exhausting weekend in Chicago at the HealtheVoices17 conference I came back with renewed vision and refreshed ready to get back into the trenches of advocacy! Did I ever leave? No you never stop! For the last four days I’ve met with advocates from all over the world! Yes we had advocates join us from as far as Australia, Taiwan, Argentina, Brazil, and United Arab Emirates at the conference. It was a pretty amazing group of people and I can’t tell you just how much they inspired me! The theme of the conference was “Together We Thrive” and I couldn’t have walked away this weekend without feeling more as if I now have this extended family in my world of advocacy.
Without a doubt the weekend was crazy powerful with so many amazing advocates from across different patient communities. Such a great opportunity to learn, grow, and support one another. The support started with Janssen US and the other sponsors who funded everything for all of the patient/advocates to be in Chicago for this conference. A huge thank-you for believing in us! To the TonicLC team I couldn’t have been more blown away by how great a job you did in putting on this #HealthEVoices17 conference. So often as a patient/advocate your efforts are largely unheard and you feel as though your that small fish in a very large ocean. It was refreshing for a change to know that our efforts were being recognized, and to hear companies like these say that “we were teaching them”!
To the new friends that I made and the ones I didn’t get as much time as I’d have liked to over the weekend, I thank you all for inspiring me in the ways that you did! I’m missing so many of you already but at the same time looking forward to working with you in the future. Its important to remember that “Together We Thrive” and so I encourage all of us to stay in touch with one another. As we all get back into the trenches and get back to advocating for our various causes remember that we are powerful together no matter what the cause. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you who inspired you and ask for their advice. At the same time make sure that you take those who are around you and raise them up! Encourage, motivate, and help to empower them in their own advocacy efforts.
At #HealthEVoices17 we were able to learn so much about the powerful tools that we have at our fingertips to aide us in our efforts. They are only powerful however if we put them into use! So I encourage each and every one of the 100+ advocates that were there over the weekend, to take what you were able to learn and apply it in the ways it will benefit your cause. We need to understand that partnering together is only going to make us stronger as patient/advocates. Before you do any of this however remember that self-care is your first priority. This was something that was front and centre at the conference! We were urged to make use of the quite room or take the opportunity to go back to our room and watch the live stream as we rested. Remember your a patient first and need to take care of yourself first before any of your advocacy efforts.
This was a weekend that had so many levels to it! Trying to pick out just one highlight is a really hard thing to do. On Fri night we had an “Open Mic Night” and all I can say is that you had to be there fully appreciate just how raw and real things got! What was suppose to end at around 9:30pm ended up going until 11:00pm! Its hard to describe the feeling but it was clear from day one that that no matter what you were dealing with, that you were part of this larger extended family that supported you and would be there for you in the future. We laughed together and shared experiences with one another, as well as having several moments where our emotions got the best of us producing the odd tear!
We can learn so much from one another as patient/advocates! Being able to speak to other advocates and the communities they belong to, as well as hear about the challenges they face is a great way to learn and grow with one another. It allowed us the opportunity to see if there were things in which we could add or change about our own efforts. Every moment right down to the meals together was pretty special! The entire weekend left me pretty speechless.
It really was an honour and a privilege to be asked to be a part of this conference this year. We walk away impacted and changed in so many ways!
Today has been one of those days where your body reminds you that your still sick! So sometimes you just have to know when to give up and let your body rest. The last few weeks have been more than challenging and its times like these that make this illness so challenging. This won’t change how I face my disease just slow things down until I regain my balance! What’s really important right now is to rely upon my support system that’s in place. Family and fellow advocates are right there if I need them and I’m so lucky to have them there for me.
In recent weeks I’ve been having a lot of problems with not only flare ups but brain fog has been really bad. I have to admit that time for self-health and healing hasn’t been what it should be and I need to get things back on track. After eleven years I’ve learned really well to recognize when somethings not right, and that I need to get back to the basics of managing this illness. It’s a reminder that as much as quality of life has improved that I’m still dealing with a beast that can derail you at a moments notice if you don’t take care of yourself!
Chronic illness doesn’t take time off and so you have to make sure that your staying on top of the things that control the symptoms! Especially with an illness like CRPS where something so little can set off a major flare up. It seems as if CRPS has decided to turn things up a notch so I need to turn up my defense systems as well. That means a whole lot of self care and then turning to the biggest defense system in my life in God. I can’t say enough how much strength I draw from Him when things seem impossible! In fact I don’t often say enough how He’s helped my family and I through this journey.
Am I having a rough go of things right now? You bet! I feel at times as though I could crawl out of my skin. At times my nervous system goes crazy and the emotional swings I’ve felt in the last few weeks have at times been really hard to deal with! If I could tell the gerbil in my head to stop running on his wheel then I would. What doesn’t waiver however is my positive spirit! You see in order to fight this illness I need a small army to go to all the different areas that are at war in my body. Just like an army mobilizes various units to go fight in various regions or areas of a war, I have to do much of the same with my CRPS. I send one unit to deal with the pain and another to deal with the mental area of the fight. Then lets not forget that I have to send a unit to fight against my nervous system.
Mobilizing an army in this way takes a born leader one well versed in strategy and the ability to get the job done. God is that leader to me! His ability to strategize and bring victory is unmatched! When I’m battle weary He sends help to the areas I need provision in order to allow me to regain my strength to continue on. You have to have trust and confidence in a leader, even though sometimes the battles that you fight and where you find yourself being led don’t make sense. I have to have complete faith that God knows how to take on the enemy that’s trying to wear me down and win this battle. Your best line of defense is being under the leadership of someone who knows how to outsmart the enemy!
So with that being said I want to leave you with this one thing to think about!
2 Samuel 22:33-41
33It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. 34He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. 35He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 36You make your saving help my shield; your help has made me great. 37You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. 38I pursued my enemies and crushed them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. 39I crushed them completely, and they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. 40You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. 41You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes.
Who do you want leading your battle as you fight through adversity? Mine gives me all of this and more!
Today’s challenge will be to try and put together two articles I need to write combined with a very busy family schedule for today. It’s going to take every available spoon to get through the day but I’m confident I can do it. So you might be asking yourself what is a spoon? Well in my world the term spoon is making reference to the amount of energy that those of us who are chronically ill have. If that’s not confusing enough patients fighting chronic illness commonly refer to one another by the term “spoonies”. Confused yet? This all has to do with breaking down your day into manageable pieces through using spoons. Still confused? Let me shed some light on all this.
Today I want to talk about something that I think is a huge part of pain management that so often gets missed. If we are going to manage our pain effectively then breaking up our day into manageable pieces is crucial. Its like running your car with no oil! You will eventually do damage to the engine if you run the oil dry! So if you use up all your energy or “spoons” then you’ll find that the same thing will happen. You start to push yourself beyond your limits and end up setting yourself back. I use to push myself really hard because I just wanted life to be back to what it was before getting sick! This is something I have to still work at because sometimes I can’t always make the choices I’d like to and because of that I end up dealing with flare ups.
I know some of you are reading this thinking I’m crazy! Where did all this talk about cutlery come from and it makes absolutely no sense. When I first started hearing other people diagnosed with chronic illness talk about “spoonies” and “spoons” I had to wonder! Then I did some digging and found The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino. If you want more information then I’d urge you to drop check out her site and it will explain more of how this theory was born! I think if your going to understand those of us that are sick better then you need to understand some of the terminology that we use.
So what are we talking about here? On any given day I only have so much energy and once my spoons run out I’m done for the day. It’s a way for those of us that are sick to manage our day in a very effective way. What this does is cause you as the one who’s sick to think ahead as to what effort its going to take in managing your day to day. In my case maybe its planning out that school concert of my daughters that I have to go to tomorrow. If I know that its going to take half of the spoons that I have for the day, then I have to make a plan for getting through the rest of the day with the remaining spoons that I have left.
The theory itself is really common sense in understanding that certain things are going to cause us to use up our spoons faster than others. So its trying to find that balance in order to get yourself through the day, so that just maybe you have one or two spoons left over! Now I know there are some of you thinking isn’t it just as simple as making up a schedule for the day. It isn’t that easy when your sick because you never know what each day is going to throw at you! There are days where it can take every ounce of strength to do one simple task. I can’t wait for the day where I don’t have to manage my day in this way. For now I do though and it helps in reducing the number of flare ups that I have to deal with.
What I find is that so often we push ourselves past the point of no return with our pain and then we end up paying for it. That desire to do just that little bit more or for things to be the way they used to be takes over. This often sends our bodies into survival mode causing spikes in our pain and this vicious up and down cycle of flare ups, and so instead of being able to manage our illness we no react to it instead. I know that what I’m writing about today isn’t some complex theory or ground breaking discovery into a cure for a disease! I do however think that it’s a very important aspect of pain management that we need to be using.
At the end of the day it comes down to me doing everything possible to fight back against my illness and improve the quality of my life. Counting spoons is just another excellent tool to add to the toolbox!
Happy New Year everyone! The very fact that your reading this means that not only “you” but “I” managed to get through the holidays! Yes its a little past New Years but everything in my world goes at a slower pace! It’s a new year and I’m looking forward to renewed health and wellness for all of us that are suffering from chronic pain. For me personally it’s been a challenging few months battling a few symptoms, that lately seem to be in a constant state of flare. However it doesn’t change how I approach this illness, and I continue to remain optimistic and hopeful. At the same time I’m feeling the need to take a time out and rest my weary body.
In starting out the year I need to refocus and get back to basics which is looking at myself, and to know that the single most effective way to beat this illness is held within me. I’ve been digging deep within myself lately asking myself how I’ve been able to get as far as I have in this battle against CRPS. When things have seemed impossible they’ve been made possible and to that I need to give credit to God for being there through it all. My brain starts to hurt when I think of the number of times when things were too tough to handle, or when the roadblocks I faced seemed next to impossible to get past. Every time though with strength, determination, and a positive attitude I manage to get through whatever situation I’ve faced. Once again I have to give credit to God for giving me all of those things.
Attitude and how we approach our illness is huge, and often I think we can find opportunity to do a much better job at this. I want to be really careful in how I word things because my intention is to make us think about how we approach our illness. Some things are not in our control and I realize that! So there are variables that of course are going to affect how we think, approach, or even act on our diagnosis. That being said I always think there’s room for improving. So what I’m saying is look within your own situation and really ask yourself is there anything you can do differently, or change about your attitude or how you handle your illness. Its a really tough question because this is where some of those variables come into play. You may have had bad experiences with physicians or family members that just don’t understand what your going through. So my question to you would be this. Is there an opportunity to have grace or forgiveness in that situation? Or are you holding on to anger and resentment towards them? I use these two examples because these would be the two that most of us can most easily relate to.
Both these areas do hold opportunity for use to change our attitude, and although it might not be very easy it might just make walking through your journey a little easier! We get so caught up in some of the things that are out of our control that it stops us from seeing that some of the answers are right there within us. Not to mention that it can cause a huge shift in our attitude! That doctor who’s working really hard to help us in a really crappy situation isn’t responsible for us being sick. Yet often anger and frustration often gets directed towards them just because they can’t provide us every answer “you” or “I” want. Even when we come up against that physician or specialist that doesn’t know about our illness or doesn’t treat us the way we deserve to be treated. There’s an opportunity right there in how we deal with the situation that may arise as a result! Try to look at things from a different perspective because maybe just maybe some of the answers aren’t as cut and dry for them as they may seem for us. We get so desperate for answers however that we lose perspective of that because we start letting our emotions take over.
Believe me I get it! All I’m really trying to say is that sometimes we miss what’s right there inside of us. We hold this incredible amount of power within ourselves to change the entire outlook of our diagnosis. Along with changing how we manage every day life within our illness. Do you get what I’m trying to say? The question is this! Are you willing look within yourself to find it?
Last night was one of those typical nights where you toss and turn trying not to lose your mind! With pain levels spiking because of a flare up there wasn’t a whole lot to do but do what I do every night in praying that the pain eases. Nights like last night are typical of someone who deals with CRPS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Autoimmune Disorders, or any other chronic pain condition for that matter. The last thing I wanted to do today besides wanting to crawl into a corner and rock in the fetal position, was tackle the very simple task of every day life! Most of you get up you have a cup of coffee and then you go about your day. For me I wake up take twenty pills to ease my pain and have to carefully plan what I can and can’t do, or what will expend to much energy causing me more pain!
I’m passionate about standing up for my fellow survivors who live with chronic pain! So the waters I’m about to enter today are solely my own views and nobody but mine! Just want to make it clear so that there are no misunderstandings. I’m writing this from my view as the chronically ill patient! Over the last little while the whole opioid crisis has been drawing a lot of attention and I just want to express my opinion of this whole issue. Governments are wanting to take opioids away from chronic pain sufferers and it would be a disaster waiting to happen.
There is a tremendous amount of fear and anger out there in the chronic pain world because of what I will refer to as “the crisis” in this article. I along with others don’t take them out of choice but out of necessity to manage and have the quality of life that I do. Yet some people would be quick to label me as an addict! I do my best to take low dosages and use alternate methods to manage my pain where possible but the reality is that not all alternate methods will work to relieve my pain.
These in my opinion are not the actions of someone who is looking to abuse medications. If I could get rid of my medication and the pain today then I would! Believe me when I say ten years of pain has been long enough! I’m not looking to take the next pill or the other 20 others I have to take throughout the day!
Patients are getting passed from physician to physician in looking for treatment and diagnosis. This makes the patients look as if they are just bouncing from doctor to get the next Rx or get their next fix! As a patient advocate and someone who’s been through the revolving door of doctors nothing upsets me more than to see us being viewed in this way! Why is this happening? Ask anyone suffering from chronic pain and they’ll tell you their desperate for answers and treatment. I think we need to focus more on research for cures and alternate treatments!
As a patient with an illness that has little known about it and no cure in site what are my options? Not many! Sure this is where lots of physicians get stuck, and whip out the prescription pad saying “here try this but I can’t help you any further” leaving the patient with no other choice but to source another physician. I’m lucky enough to have a team of doctors who don’t do this and carefully monitor my medications and try where possible to decrease if they can. They see the need to balance the use of opioids in order to control the pain in conjunction with sourcing other methods of pain control. I’m lucky that for the most part this allows me to function throughout the day!
Taking opioids away from the patient that is suffering from chronic pain and is chronically ill in my opinion will only make “the crisis” worse and cause more patients to become desperate with even fewer choices! Thus leading to higher rates of suicide. If we can come up with cures and treatments then hopefully chronic pain patients shouldn’t have to rely on these medications as much. Not giving me any voice however doesn’t help to solve the problem. The patient needs to be a part of the overall solution!
I promised myself yesterday that I wouldn’t let weeks go bye before I put up another post! Look at me! I’m trying to get back into my writing but with two busy kids and living a chronic life it’s not the easiest thing to do in this season of my life. It’s hard to believe but I’ve been writing this blog now for seven years! It seems like just yesterday that I was writing from a place of uncertainty when I was first diagnosed. Without a doubt the last ten years has been filled with some pretty emotional stories! This last few weeks has brought all those emotions flooding back! On Nov. 2 when I hosted CRPS Awareness Day I saw faces in the auditorium that almost felt as if they were a reflection of mine back when I was diagnosed. I could see the anger and the fear in some of the patients eyes, and I could hear uncertainty in their voices as they spoke. As I stood in front of those patients I reminded them that “your going to get through this” as hard as it might be right now! I told them not to give up hope!
As I spoke with various people diagnosed with CRPS throughout the day, one of the things that came up over and over was how hard their diagnosis has been on the family as a whole. An illness like CRPS has a huge impact on how the family functions and it adds even more stress to your relationships. Sometimes we don’t stop for a minute to think about how chronic illness affects them. I have a wife who has sits back and watches every day play out in front of her with there being very little she can do to help me. What support groups are there for her? None! My children being kids would like nothing more than to be able to run up to dad in the morning and jump on me or do the usual things they do with their parents. They can’t! Who explains to the child why all of this has to be this way? The parents! Fortunately God has given a lot of wisdom and understanding to manage all of this.
Family life is a bit different when your living a chronic life, and has taught me to how to have grace for others in the family who have to deal with me being ill. God helps us navigate our way through it as a family. Most of the time we talk out loud about challenges we face and work on how we can make things better. It’s not to say that things are easy all the time because they aren’t. Often there are times of misunderstanding and it takes a whole lot of listening and explaining of things to each other in order to work through the challenges we face. Now I don’t want to paint a negative picture of what family life is like because if anything in a lot of ways this illness has made our family stronger. I’m just saying that an illness like CRPS changes how you go about every day life. On the days that my wife is having a tough day I try to be there just as she tries to be there for me on my bad days! Am I perfect and there for her on every one of those days? Not at all! This is what I’m talking about in that it isn’t easy, that there’s a lot of give and take in order to support one another in the ways that we need to! There are a lot of days where I have to humble myself to tell my kids “sorry that daddy was a grouch today, the pain got the best of me” in order to help them understand why dad is acting the way that he does!
Its not easy to explain every aspect of how family life changes with a chronic illness because it can vary so much from family to family. What you really need to know though is that it affects the interactions and relationships between family members! There are lots of days that I want to blame my illness for everything and how its affected our family but what good would that do. What I really need to do is focus on making those relationships and interactions the best I can within the peramiters of my illness. Fostering strong relationships and interacting can be tougher however and takes a bit more effort when your dealing with an illness like this. So as a family we’ve had to put our heads together to figure out the best way to do that! We have relied heavily on asking God for wisdom on how to handle this.
So unless there is a cure for CRPS then trying to figure out how to manage my illness with having a great family life will always be a balancing act! So it means being aware of how it can affect our family and not allowing it to have a negative affect on us. We need to keep working hard and to see only the positives of how it has actually brought us closer together as a family.
Its been a rough go lately dealing with extra pain but somehow I manage to keep moving forward! A few weeks ago I traveled down to Huntington Beach to attend the Global Genes Rare Disease Summit. The stress of the travel was hard on my body and although I had to fight a lot of extra pain it was well worth it. There’s a trade off that comes with living a chronic life and I know there are others of you out there that understand what I’m talking about. Its all a part of me moving forward with my life and not allowing your illness to take all control!
I arrived home from the Summit changed but in a really good way. When your sitting beside a person who is one of only five people in the U.S. that has a rare form of cancer things are suddenly put into perspective. There was unique story after unique story each one impacting me in a different way. It was impossible to take away just one thing! If I felt inspired to do something about CRPS before, I left feeling as if I had to do all that much more! When I looked at the work that some people had been doing to raise awareness for their particular illnesses, I had to ask myself what am I really doing? At the end of the weekend we all went back home having gained 500 friends and a wealth of knowledge to take back to our communities.
I really feel I was able to make some strong connections and tap into some resources that will be useful here in my own community and province. Although its hard at the best of times to battle on with chronic illness I believe God gives us an abundance of strength when we need it the most, never giving us more than we can handle. With that being said as I left the conference knowing that I needed to be stronger in my advocacy efforts I came to the conclusion that no matter what I face or take on, God will provide in every way I need Him to along the way. I don’t want to be that person who says “I can’t” just because the path in front of me looks too difficult. I need to remember that God is guiding this walk and that when I’m lacking clarity or vision that I’m to look towards Him.
As I prepare to have the first ever CRPS Awareness day here for the Province of Saskatchewan I can feel my legs begin to tremble just at the thought of having to put this one day event on. Some of the people coming to this event hold important positions within our community and even our province. So sometimes I question my qualifications or I tell myself I’m way out of my league when it comes to taking this on. However nothing could be further from the truth. My qualifications speak for themselves having lived this illness for the past ten years! I need push forward because I have a testimony within my story that might just help one person find the care they need, or cause one Dr. to stop and think about how they diagnose and treat a patient. It might even be that one person from our government who comes to the event and is impacted. Leading them to say that we need to work on policy and legislation. Let me be very clear! All I’m saying is that by standing still I won’t create change!
Fast forward two weeks because this post was suppose to be up already but there’s just been too much going on and not enough time to do everything! CRPS Awareness Day went ahead this week and was a huge success! I’m not going to lie when I say I was a little worried that I wasn’t going to fill seats for my key note speaker but we were at full capacity and I think a few people other than patients walked away better informed of what CRPS is. The next day I was asked to speak at another conference and share my story with a group from within our health district. As much as I was nervous about getting up and doing it I knew I had to because we need to spread the word and make people listen.
Its not about being qualified! Stories bring with them power to change, whether it be my story or your story or someone else’s! It’s only when we move that we make a difference but you have to ask yourself are you willing to do it? Through sharing my story and all that has been thrown at me over the last ten years it is my hope that I will make a difference. All I can do is hope and leave the rest up to God!
Have you ever had one of those moments where something really profound strikes you out of the blue. Today has been one of those days and it happened as I was listening to a podcast I listen to on a regular basis. The person speaking was sharing a story about a time he went whitewater rafting with his wife. The trip started as any rafting adventure would but as they headed down river the raft they were in flipped and all kinds of chaos ensued. He continues on with the story talking about how they came within inches of their death, as they struggled to reach shore safely. After getting to shore they managed to regroup and find the raft they had all been tossed out of.
After everything that had transpired the last thing he wanted to do was get back into that raft and continue down the river, yet it was the only option because there was no other way out. He offered to pay the guide to have a helicopter fly in and pick them up but the canyon walls were too steep! There was no other way of walking out until they got several miles down river, and they had to face some very nasty rapids called the Devil’s Mouth! Facing no other choice they got back into the raft and continued down river.
Through my ten years in living with CRPS I have come to realize that sometimes this illness doesn’t give you a choice of what you have to face. So instead of going around the storm we have to go right through the eye of it. It takes every ounce of strength to tell yourself that your going to be alright, and not to let fear make the decisions for you! It takes faith and believing in yourself even though you may not understand everything that is happening or might happen down the road. I like to compare it to a storm you see coming in the distance while sailing at sea. The storm is massive and all you can see are clouds and swirling seas as far as the eye can see. There isn’t time to change course and all you can do is head straight into it. At that point you face a choice! Either let the storm have its way with your boat and face drowning, or take on what’s coming at you with a strength and determination to come out the other side.
As I continued to listen to this podcast I could really identify with the things he was saying. A lot of what I’m walking through with my CRPS isn’t a choice but I “can” choose how I can take it on and not let it define who I am and what I do. There are some days where the illness that you face is going to kick you in the butt and your confidence will be taken down a few notches. You will experience things that scare you or cause you to question and doubt your abilities! The question is do you have faith and believe in yourself, and that you can steer your ship through the storm? Are you just sitting there in the corner of the wheelhouse huddled up hoping that you get through everything, or are you actively trying to navigate and steer that ship through?
This takes me back to the podcast I was listening to where the husband and wife were facing the daunting task of getting through the Devil’s Mouth rapids. It was either choose to believe in their ability to do what the guide was needing them to do to get through the rapids, or let the current push the raft into the rapids with disastrous results. The rudder had snapped off the raft in the first flip and it was up to them to steer the raft where it needed to go. Their mentality had to change and from that point forward they had to believe in themselves, and that they were capable of guiding this raft where it needed to go. After many fearful moments they eventually got through the rapids and into the calm part of the river. It took doing the things they never thought they could in order to get themselves to safety.
At the end of the podcast I took some time to reflect on how this story related to my life with chronic illness. In that time of reflection I came to a conclusion that I have two choices. One is that I can either choose to try and push the limits of my abilities and believe that I can make choices that will help me excel in life in spite of my illness. In other words can I navigate the storm and sail into calm waters. Or choice number two is do I let the powerful storm that’s swirling all around me knock me out of the ship and let the ocean swallow me up. So what I mean is do I let this illness consume me and change who I am and what I am able to do with the rest of my life. What choice are you going to make?
“Do not let your illness define who you are or what you can do”
Have you ever had one of those moments where you were listening to something like your favorite podcast and something really profound strikes you. Well today that happened as I was listening to one of mine and I wanted to share it with you. The person speaking was sharing a story about whitewater rafting with his wife. As they headed down river the raft they were in flipped and all kinds of chaos ensued. The story carries on talking about how they came within inches of death however they eventually managed to reach shore safely.
After everything that transpired the last thing he wanted to do was get back into that raft and continue down the river, yet it was the only option because there was no other way out. He offered to pay the guide to have a helicopter fly in and pick them up but the canyon walls were too steep! There was no other way of walking out until they got several miles down river, and they had to face some very nasty rapids called the Devil’s Mouth! Facing no other choice they got back into the raft and continued down river.
So often the only option one faces while fighting a chronic illness is to move straight forward and take on the illness in a battle that most of us would rather not fight. We see that difficult path that lies ahead, and it scares us to the extent that we don’t want to get back in the boat. It takes every ounce of strength to tell yourself that your going to be ok, and not to let the fear of the unknown make decisions for you! It takes faith and believing in yourself to continue your journey through whatever you might have to face. Sometimes those roadblocks that stand in our way are there for reasons unknown but you can’t let fear stop you from moving ahead. Sometimes you just have to say “I’m not going to let fear stop me from taking the next step” or from “accomplishing a goal”!
What I kept thinking through the entire podcast was I’m going through all of this for a reason! The pain, suffering, surgeries, and everything else CRPS throws at me! I know in my heart that I’m having to go through all of this so that something good will come out of all of it in the end. Even the ability to be able to speak into another person’s life is a powerful tool that I have been given. At the start of all of this I felt weak and beaten down. Now I feel as though I can take on anything life throws at me, regardless of what the challenge is. We don’t always see odvious things that are sittings right in front of us because we get too caught up in what’s happening in the now!
The message today is pretty simple sometimes we only have one choice and that’s to keep moving forward and face whatever lays ahead. You don’t know what might come out of your experiences!
Today I wanted to write something to encourage all of you out there who are struggling right now with your diagnosis. It might seem as if your world is spinning out of control and you might be asking yourself what do I do now! I want you to ask yourself a question. Are you happy? When I saw this video I said to myself its a perfect fit for what I want to talk about because it really says it all! Through all the pain, anger, and fear you need to get back up and fight. In some cases it isn’t going to be easy but with Gods guidance anything is possible! As the video says allow your heart to start beating again! Take baby steps one foot in front of the other and you can get there!
A word of advice! I really wanted to figure out where this journey was taking me but understand now I just needed to take the ride. I’ve turned that over to God and it’s brought peace in my life. I’m learning that bit by bit Gods greater plan is unfolding for my life. Sometimes the battle to get your mind and body back in the game, is tougher than facing the illness itself. When we get sick we just want everything to go back to the way it was. We tend to focus on the way things were and it can be really easy to become bitter and angry because we can’t have our old life back! Have you stopped to think for a minute that maybe this journey your on is for a reason. Maybe God has a plan for your life with bigger and better things but first you have to walk through some really tough things!
To often we listen to all those tiny voices that we hear in our head and it stops us from shifting the car from park into drive! I’m often reminded of all those episodes of the Flintstones I used to watch as a kid. If you don’t remember it then it was a cartoon set in the Stone Ages. The cars they drove in the cartoon were foot powered, and Barney and Fred would constantly forget to move their feet to get the car going. The running joke was why isn’t the car going anywhere. So the parallel I’m trying to make is that you have to keep your feet moving, if you want to stop yourself from getting stuck in the mud.
It might take some time to figure things out but don’t believe for a minute that your stuck where your at! You can’t be scared of running up against obstacles, or the times of frustration that you will run up against while on this journey. Look for the lesson from within each of those challenges, and if there is one learn and grow from them if you can. Some of those hard times that you face as you walk this journey might just change how you think about things from the past. Or it might open your eyes to new things that you never thought possible. Never in a million years did I see myself organizing a CRPS Awareness Day in our province and taking a roll in advocacy the way that I am. That being said I couldn’t feel better about what I am doing and the small roll I’m playing in trying to raise awareness. Advocacy has fueled a fire in me that wasn’t there before. Its fire to help people in whatever ways I can.
I’m not trying to tell you what to do in your situation. Absolutely not! I’m just trying to point out that there are things in my own life over the last ten years, that I’ve had to work on that I didn’t see coming. Ones that are taking me down a different road and as this happens I’m seeing happiness return. Do I know your situation? No! Can I relate to your situation? Yes! I do know that if I had stayed the way I was ten years ago then I wouldn’t be happy. I wouldn’t for a minute think of trying to tell another person what to do with there life and I never will. What I will do however is share my story with others and encourage. I really believe that when we support each other in these ways that we gain perspective. What you choose to do with that is your choice!
This is a simple message that I’ve given on more than one occasion but I think its important to keep giving. Its important because if I don’t remind myself personally every once in a while of these things, then I become stuck or my vision can become clouded. So I would hope that you see things in the same way. If your reading this today I hope it helps shed some light on questions you might have in your own journey!