Invisible Illness

Ten years ago I began this fight with chronic illness and I vowed to myself I’d never give up! That I’d never lose hope or let it stop me from doing the things I wanted to do. Unless you live with chronic illness then its hard for you to appreciate just how hard it is to get up each morning, knowing that your goal for that day will be to get through it in the least amount of pain! Some days are just an extension of the long nights with no sleep, fighting through the pain that wakes you with the slightest move if your lucky enough to fall asleep! I’m not saying all this because I’m looking for any type of pity but because I want people to see the reality of living with a “Invisible Illness”.

Chronic Illness is drawing attention at the moment under that term because people are finally starting to see it for what it really is. Its those symptoms that lots of people don’t see that make going through an illness like CRPS so difficult. Half the battle in bringing about awareness with chronic illness is changing perception of the public and how they view us! What a lot of people don’t stop and think about is that on the outside a person suffering with chronic pain can look very normal but on the inside their body is at war with itself. People don’t understand that I can walk into a crowded restaurant feeling fine but the noise sets off a trigger of mine which makes my pain spike! This then sends me into a tailspin for days and it becomes hard to function at very basic levels.

Did you know that in the U.S. 96% of all cases of people being dignosed with a chronic illness show no outword signs of their illness. What people need to know and empathize with however is that those symptoms that you don’t see can hinder a person from going to school, work, or even to just socialize. Now I know I mentioned before how dibilitating an illness like CRPS or other chronic illness can be but there’s a point to where I’m going with this. If a teacher doesn’t know that a student is suffering from a chronic illness that causes cognitive imparements then they become impatient with the student. That student might look and act normal most of the time and so on the outside things appear normal. If you educate the teacher about the student then the teacher can work with the disability.

So when it comes to work its largely the same in that things might seem normal on the outside but there can be something completly different going on inside. With CRPS I have a physical side to the disease that shows but you’d be amazed at how many people judge me and say “well its just a hand”! They miss everything thats going on inside my body and how its fighting itself. They miss how my nervous system has developed a mind of its own and how I’ve lost control of it. If we educate people on this however then the battles that we hear about in getting employers to recognize chronic illness become fewer.

The social side of a silent illness is a little different when it comes to understanding. A person who deals with chronic illness learns very quickly the various triggers that affect them and cause pain to be greater. I won’t get into the triggers because there are lots and for everyone they are different. What I will say is this, when we are trying to manage our symptoms we will do what we need to do in order to manage them. So when a person dealing with a chronic illness seems anti social and needs time alone let them. They are probably trying to manage their illness! Again its educating friends and family about this so that they understand whats going on inside that person.

So if you haven’t already caught on to the point of this post then let me summerize things for you in a nutshell. Its really about educating people on Chronic Life! If those of us living a life of chronic illness want to be understood then its our job to help educate and bring awareness. As a result of doing this then we will start seeing perceptions change and thus the hidden side of chronic life will become more exposed and less invisible!

 

 

November is CRPS Awarness Month

It’s Nov 1! What’s so special about today? Well it’s the start of CRPS Awareness month! So over the next thirty days you’ll be hearing a lot about the illness that has impacted my life so much over the last nine years.  Seeing as my site talks about CRPS on a routine basis, I had to try and think of how I could do my part in trying to raise awareness over the next month. So what your going to see on every post from today until the end of the month will be a fact about CRPS. So without delay here is today’s fact.

Fact #1    Many health care professionals and consumers are unaware of its signs and symptoms. Typically, people with CRPS report seeing an average of five physicians before being accurately diagnosed.

With my case it took about six different doctors and then a flight out to Vancouver to get my diagnosis. It took about a year and a half in total before I finally knew what I was dealing with, and before I could get any type of correct treatment plan put into place. At the least someone should have been able to tell me who to see or where to go. When nobody in the entire city is able to direct me as to where to go there’s a problem. Now I firmly believe that not every physician is going to have an answer to everything. Nor is it fare to expect that they are going to know every disease, illness, or medical mystery that’s out there. That’s where those of us who do have a diagnosis have a responsibility to step up and help educate, and I do believe that’s happening.

In the nine years since my diagnosis here in my city the physicians are getting better at recognizing the symptoms of CRPS however in other areas it’s very clear training is needed. While I was in hospital at the time of my implant surgery, over and over I had to educate the nurses on what CRPS was. I found myself explaining how my body reacts to pain numerous times, and the different symptoms that CRPS presents. It got frustrating because there were lots of times where their lack of knowledge stood in the way of them being able to treat me effectively. The first three days or four days were spent trying to get my pain under control because they didn’t truly understand what I needed in the way of medication. Or the simple fact that as a CRPS patient my medication needs to be kept to a strict schedule in order to best control my pain. During those first few days they struggled to help me with my pain. On day five along came one of the staff from the implant clinic that works with me. After she made a simple change to my meds things were better controlled.

A little education in those first few days would have made a big difference in the way that my treatment was carried out. I’m not upset with the nurses at all because they didn’t have any background with CRPS. There’s a real training opportunity there however in the way that CRPS patients are cared for. Those training opportunities are only going to happen however if those of us who are dealing with CRPS stand up and speak out. We need to give our feedback to the proper people and tell them that our care matters. So with all of this being said CRPS Awareness Month is a great chance to start educating! This month I challenge all my fellow bloggers and social media gurus with this. Every week post a fact on your blog or form of social media you use the most about CRPS. If you don’t blog or go on social media then tell a friend or colleague something about CRPS every week!

Lets use this month to make an impact!