Traveling, chronic illness and character preparation

If you share a life with someone who struggles from a chronic illness, travelling can be difficult, exhausting and even terrifying.

As we progress further into December, many of us are preparing to go on holidays.

Recently I went away, and beforehand I did some preparation. Not the ‘buy insurance’, ‘print your papers’, ‘get the correct address’ sort of preparation, which unfortunately I was rather sadly lacking in (thank you Long-Suffering Friend!) – but character preparation.

What’s that, you ask?

It’s the type of preparation that I’ve discovered is essential for me to ‘get the most’ out of a holiday – as a human, friend, Watcher and Christian.

While this was one of the few times I travelled without my loved ones who struggle with chronic illness, many of the ways I prepared were born out of  holidays I’ve taken with them in the past.

These 5 ways are (in my mind!) applicable whether you’re travelling with chronically ill friends or by yourself, and even whether you’re going overseas or simply staying at home and taking some time out.

However, because they’re not specifically about chronic illness, I’ve published them on my other blog.

Here’s a taster image! Read the post here!

travelling as a christian www.gloryafterwards.wordpress.com #travel #christmas #hope #prepare #life
PS. I took this photo while I was away!

// I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you agree, disagree? How do you prepare for holidays?

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!

Christmas is coming up, and I want to thank you for following my blog. When you sign up you’ll receive 3 downloadable and printable cards suitable for someone with a chronic illness – and anyone in need of some love!

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Christmas & Chronic Illness… friends or enemies?

Chronic illness or Christmas? Which would you prefer?
I know which one I’d choose. But too often we don’t have a choice – and this is very evident during the holiday season.

Over Christmas we often spend more time with family, and for many of us, that means spending more time with Chronic Illness.

Chronic Illness doesn’t go on holidays over Christmas…

While the shops and the media try to convince us that by November 1 we have entered into a ‘new world’ of perfectly laid tables, wrapped gifts and dizzying heights of tinsel – most of us know that’s not quite true.

Nothing’s really changed.

Certainly not our loved one’s health struggles.

The rest of the country may be feeling care-free and relaxed – but often our Loved One’s have more cares than ever before. Continue reading “Christmas & Chronic Illness… friends or enemies?”

The gift that wasn’t for her (LTCI #1)

As the shops get busier and my drive home after a late night shift becomes increasingly well-lit thanks to the current Christmas light epidemic, I’ve decided to introduce a new blog ‘series’.

Love in a Time of Chronic Illness (LTCI)

Many of my posts are either ‘answers’ or ‘explanations’ relating to the difficulties and loneliness-es of loving someone with a chronic illness.

I’ve never proposed to have the ‘only-exclusively-right’ answers to every situation of course. (Unless the Answer is Jesus, in which case I do!) But I write what I’ve learnt and I describe what’s encouraged me.

But for a while now I’ve been nursing a fear that perhaps these posts are portraying me unrealistically.

Eight hundred polished words are not the same as a polished life.
Continue reading “The gift that wasn’t for her (LTCI #1)”

How to sympathise with "first world" problems

Some struggles win our sympathy easily.
My mother died.
I have cancer.
We are being evicted.

These announcements normally evoke an emotional response. We recognise them as huge, world-breaking problems. They are tragedies with capital ‘T’s.

For this reason it is often easier to sympathise with our chronically ill friend, than our whining-about-their-chipped-nails colleague. And yet, we’ve discussed that as humans (and even more so as Christ-followers) we really ought to sympathise with both.

Easy to say.

Hard to do.
Continue reading “How to sympathise with "first world" problems”

Why you should sympathise with first world problems (when your own are much bigger)

I stubbed my toe.
I can’t afford concert tickets.
There’s no chocolate in my house.
Who hasn’t heard such complaints? From friends, colleagues – perhaps from yourself.

We often label them “first world problems”.
And they can be annoying. Especially as Watchers.
Continue reading “Why you should sympathise with first world problems (when your own are much bigger)”

3 things a stomach bug taught me about chronic illness

This week I was sick. Not chronically sick. Not even break-your-leg sick or appendicitis-need-operation sick. Merely stomach bug sick.

Uncomfortable, rather depressing, but half a week later and I was over it and back at work.
But something had changed.
While I was unwell I learned three very important truths about chronic illness – and I don’t want to ever forget them.

3 things I learnt about being chronically ill

1. Chronic illness means you are ill.

Don’t get me wrong, I never thought it was a walk in the park.

All my life my mum has battled various autoimmune diseases, and in the past few years I’ve watched my younger sister go through many similar struggles. I know personally how chronic illness can drain families, disrupt lives and sabotage futures.

But there’s nothing like being sick yourself to remember that the act of being sick in itself is awful.

It’s not just about the consequences or the collateral damage.

The minute-by-minute pains and nausea, the feelings of exhaustion, the frustration and the helplessness – it’s a horrible thing to experience.

I never want to forget that chronic illness means you are sick, and being sick is awful.

Continue reading “3 things a stomach bug taught me about chronic illness”

Do you laugh at misfortune?

“Just laugh or you’ll go mad.”

It’s advice I hear in hospital corridors and grocery stores.

In this era of ‘political correctness’ there are a surprising number of opportunities to snigger at the antics of dementia patients, our children’s disobedience, or someone else’s misfortune.

So where do we draw the line?

Today I’m guest posting over at Paradigm Shift, so head on over to continue reading this post.

It addresses an issue which is particularly pertinent to us as Watchers!

 

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Should we use labels?

‘Don’t restrain me.’
‘Labels are limiting.’
‘We shouldn’t put people in boxes.’

‘Everything is fluid.’
‘Categorizing someone stops them reaching their full potential.’

We don’t like labels.

Talk to anyone who is in tune with the 21st century about political correctness and common courtesy and phrases like the above will arise.

Yet it has been blatantly obvious from the very beginning that I have fixed a very firm label on myself and others on this blog.

Here are some of them:

Watchers – those in a close relationship with chronically suffering people

Wider Watchers – those who are not in a close relationship with chronic sufferers

Loved Ones – the chronic sufferers themselves

Labels restrain us

Why have I done this?

To be perfectly simple, I wouldn’t be able to write without them. I need to have these definitions in order to muse and blog and think about our specific situation.

First things first, let’s clear the waters and accept the inevitable truth:

Labels (inadvertently or otherwise) do place limits.

Continue reading “Should we use labels?”

Can good come out of bad? – A Personal Journey

A few weeks ago I did a talk for a Cancer Council morning tea on living when you can’t see God working and my own personal story about waiting for Him to fulfil His promises and bring something good out of chronic illness.

This is not a neat, polished story, tied up with perfect conclusion, because real life isn’t like that. But it’s my story, and all I have to offer. Here is the transcript: 

20170525_122538 (2)
Cupcakes beautifully made and lovingly gifted by a lady at the Tea.

” Firstly, standing up here today, I want to tell you I feel inadequate.

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly many of you have lived through difficulties I never will.

There are harder stories to tell than my own. I want to acknowledge that.

The second reason I will tell you after my story.

Continue reading “Can good come out of bad? – A Personal Journey”

Idealism or Pessimism: which is the right response to suffering?

Have you ever felt over the moon with joy – only to have someone snipe at you for being “too idealistic?”

We’ve all met That Person. The one with a hard life and huge smile. They never seem ‘down’ and they’re always hopeful about the future, even when there seems to be little to hope in!

Perhaps you’re that person. Or maybe you’re more inclined to the opposite view… You understand that life is hard and it probably won’t get any better, and having fun is all very nice, but it’s not reality!

Idealism or pessimism? Which is the right response when confronted with tragedy and illness?

It’s easy to judge a response when it’s the opposite to our own

If you’re bubbly and full of life it can be extremely disheartening when others “drag you down”. It’s not pleasant to have our “bubbles burst” or our happiness frowned at!

Continue reading “Idealism or Pessimism: which is the right response to suffering?”