Knowing Your Limits

They say in order to grow you should be testing your limits, pushing yourself forward, outside of your comfort zone.

But what is there to be said for knowing your limits?

For me, limits have been a tricky business these last couple of years. I couldn’t ignore my diagnosis of my chronic illness, but I didn’t want it to hold me back either. So, I would test just how far I could go without it rolling out a huge STOP sign in the way of my plans. And whilst I was on medication; that was sometimes higher than at other times. But, I learnt quickly – especially when I was under the weather, under pressure, or even just in a low mood – I would feel the full brunt of my disease holding up the STOP sign earlier than I’d anticipated.

I would test myself. I would see how far I could go. I would try and see how much I could take before the risks were outweighing the benefits. And this is something I would continue to do for years. It would be my way of playing a little game with my illness, to be so determined to not let it hold me back. But, in reality, I needed my disease to kick off and tell me to slow down or stop. I needed to control me in that particular way.

Why, I hear you ask?

I needed limits.

Whilst being on medication and without any surgical intervention; my limits became the symptoms that my disease was angry: Fatigue. Lack of appetite. Bad bowels. Joint pains. Nausea. Sickness. Depression. Not all of these things were solvable by pulling back and slowing down; they were big signs that my disease was planning a big attack in the near future, but me listening then, I would buy myself some time.

The tiredness, the fatigue; that was the worst. And it still is now; after coming off medication since surgery, I have to say, I still get the fatigue hit me like a sack of anything.

But in the years between learning to cope with my illness and present day post-operative, I’ve taken some good advice: SELF CARE.

By practicing self-care, I know where my limits safety are. I know where I feel most comfortable and where I am most at ease. It is where I can do what I am capable of and some of the extra things I like doing: like blogging, alongside something such as working. It has been about balance and compromise. It has been a listening and responding aspect on my life I never really considered much when I wasn’t chronically ill. That is one of the silver linings of being ill, I suppose.

Lately, I’ve been ignoring my limits. Which has meant that, despite all my good intentions and well laid plans, I’ve burnt myself out abit and gotten into a mess. And this particular mess has been a partial blockage. I’ve come out the other side realising that my current lifestyle needs some alterations so that I can continue to do what I love but also do what I need to do too. It is not something I feel fantastically happy about – admitting defeat is something I hate doing – but! I know it will help me fulfil my working life potential. I have realised too that making mistakes whilst living with an ostomy – and mine is not even a year old yet – is part of this new life as an ostomate. But being a good, proactive and resourceful patient has helped in more ways lately, than ever before.

So, knowing your limits… that’s important as pushing myself beyond them.

NB: This post was originally posted on Safe Space here

Doing Long Distance

A couple of weeks ago, I started a new job. And not just any job; one I was so damn excited to get and actually start. But it meant moving away from home. That was a messy feeling in my head for weeks, which included moving all my patient care for my IBD and stoma as well as packing and getting my head around being away from home. I haven’t done that since I lived at university and my year abroad in Canada. Both those times fill me with great memories so I have high hopes that this big move […]

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The Last Year of My 20’s

  It’s here. The final year of me being in my twenties. The last couple years, I’ve hardly noticed the age I am. Mostly because my age hasn’t really been on my mind or if it has it because people don’t quite believe my actual age when I tell them. Being sick since I was 22 meant that my birthdays weren’t really celebrated like the used to be. I didn’t go out drinking or clubbing like I did in my university years, I felt too unwell to do that or I didn’t want to risk being sick afterwards. And as […]

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Changes, Welcomed Changes

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“Adding scars to my body in order for a higher quality of life.”

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Lately, people have been asking me how I’ve become so okay with how my life currently is. I think they mean to ask ‘how have you been able to accept your stoma so well?’ because it’s only been a little over six months since my operation. I think it’s down to three things, really: I have lived with a chronic illness for five years. I’ve had all that time to build up my own way to accept whatever circumstances have been thrown my way; both with my health and a result of my health. So, I learnt a while back […]

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It Creeps Up on You

Diary Entry: 29.04.16 It’s two weeks until my surgery. I’ve finally had all my paperwork for my pre-op and my admission for the actual surgery. It’s come around fast. Faster than expected. Even though it was only a month away when I got told it was provisionally booked.   Planned anxiety. That is what my first surgery was. Lately, I’ve been finding myself getting less sleep because my head has been stuck in the past. I’ve been struggling to get myself focused on what is happening right now. I am lost in the memories of what I experienced last year. […]

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I’ve already had five and a half years with my chronic illness. I’ve gotten used to it disturbing my life and disrupting my plans. It seems to have a knack for doing this, a lot. What I am not used to is being without medication. It feels foreign, almost like we are testing the IBD gods, tricking them into thinking I am well. For all intents and purposes, I am well. Latest multiple test results came back clear; things are looking up for me since surgery last summer. But that doesn’t mean I feel content with being in remission. If […]

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What Does Chronic Illness Rob You Of?

It wasn’t long before I was thinking about how things had changed and how that upset me so much. What else was Crohn’s disease going to take from me? I wrote this the day after my first relationship since my diagnosis with Crohn’s disease broke down. I wasn’t at all shocked but it did stun me. I had to change. I had changed. But I was fed up and feeling awfully sorry for myself, I started to question who I was and what I was putting out there. I saw my illness as something no person would ever want to […]

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Being Chronically Ill at Christmas

Each year I am so thankful I make it to the festive period and survive it. Why? Christmas for me is a time to reflect and see what I’ve been through. It gives me strength for the year ahead. We can draw a line under what has happened and focus on continuing my good streak. That’s what it always feels for me; I am in a game with my health, praying nothing goes wrong, praying I don’t catch something, praying I make it through another season without an admission. This year I look back and despite having had two surgeries […]

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Please, Just Respect my Decision, OUR Decision

When I turned sixteen, I announced to my best friend that I wasn’t going to have kids. It was just something I wasn’t interested in becoming a mom, raising children wasn’t any part of the life I had planned for myself. She laughed, quite amused by my statement. How can you know that at sixteen?! She asked me, confused. I bet you change your mind. In fact, I bet you’re the first of us to have children, Lou! I told her I wouldn’t, I would make sure of it. I was a foolish sixteen-year-old. So, off I went to university […]

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Remaining Positive in the Face of [Chronic] Illness

Once the battle of being diagnosed with an illness, be it chronic or not, has passed – with elation, fear, and exhaustion – it is not long before the next battle comes. For me this was “finding my feet”. I spent six weeks or so in hospital over the space of four months, as we sorted out my medications and relieving my symptoms. Once I was on an upward path, everyone began to tell me this little nugget of wisdom: “You’ve got to find the positive strength to get through this” Hear it a few times, you take it on […]

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Old versus the Present

Let me set a scene for you: It’s raining. Drizzling. My favourite. I’m walking home from town. It’s getting dark. I’ve got my hood up, headphones in my ears, music pumping around my head. I start to hum the tune of the songs, moving into singing whilst walking. I’ve got a definite spring in my step, walking tall and proud. I can’t feel the spotlight of the headlights of cars stuck in traffic on the road beside me, the people inside. Old me would have been embarrassed that I had let some words slip out of my mouth whilst walking […]

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Taking my Stoma to the Spa

I love a good spa day. Swimming, a steam, hot tub, a treatment and being pampered in a robe and fluffy slippers. My idea of heaven. Over the years I’ve found being in a relaxing environment such as a spa very much help me with my mental health and give me some much-needed reflective time alone. I tend to ask for them as gifts for Christmas or birthdays so, that every year I get at least two days of rest and relaxation. This year I received one but had to reschedule it three times due to Crohn’s flare ups, surgeries […]

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Hitting the Wall (of Denial and Regret)

I think like most people, I am guilty of living in some denial and regret in certain aspects of my life. When it comes to a chronic illness, it’s just that CHRONIC. It doesn’t go away, it can’t be cured only treated and those treatments change and sometimes fail. It takes time to become comfortable with what you have, what is wrong with you and how you go about living with it. I’ve always embraced my illness. I figured the sooner I accept it, the better I will feel right? I was half right. Whilst I did accept my illness […]

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When Surgery Gives You Life: What Makes Me, Me

If anyone has asked me this last year or even a couple of months ago, I would have struggled to answer. Was I definable by my relationship? My role as a friend, a daughter, a sister, a cousin? My likes and dislikes? My invisible illness, even? I don’t hide the fact that I have Crohn’s Disease, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and it has defined my life – both physically and mentally – for the five years since I was diagnosed. For the majority of that time I’ve been able to work and enjoy my life because medication […]

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