Eating. Walking. Breathing. These and other “basic skills” are second nature to many of us. Or, perhaps, not.
Sometimes, a chronic health condition requires us to relearn what we thought we already knew how to do. And it can be mighty frustrating, not to mention embarassing.
I remember when, after a long series of tests, I was diagnosed with several esophageal problems and had to work with a “swallow therapist.” Before then, I had no idea that such a specialist existed! I also could not imagine that I was “eating incorrectly.” Hadn’t I been eating – and swallowing – all of my life? What could be wrong?
Turned out, it wasn’t so much what was wrong, but what needed to be tweaked due to the developments brought about by my health problems. I had to learn new ways to approach eating because of them. It didn’t take a long time to do this, but as I “studied” and incorporated the very helpful suggestions give to me by the therapist, I realized how important it was that I relearned what I thought I already knew how to do. Not only did it enable me to adapt to my esophageal problems, it also gave me a lot of self-confidence and tools to take with me, back into my daily life.
Other people I know have benefited from physical therapy sessions, revisiting daily activities and learning to walk, lift, or move in ways that adapt to new physical problems and, thus, cause less discomfort or limitation. Speech therapists can help with vocal difficulties. Breathing specialists can help with lung function.
When a basic skill becomes problemmatic, it’s really important to keep in mind that we’re not “failing at life.” It’s just that sometimes, at various stages of our lives with chronic pain and illness, we’ll need to “tweak” or “retool” our approach. If there is something you used to be able to do easily, but are having problems doing now, I encourage you to see your doctor and talk it over with him or her. We might not think we’ll ever have to learn to walk, talk, breath, or eat again, but sometimes we need a bit of expert help to enable us to journey on. Far from being an indication of failure, taking these positive steps is a display of insight, courage, and determination!
Joy and peace,