Second close-up of pictureSometimes when our illness flares or we experience new symptoms, we turn outward. Was it the weather that brought this on? To much work? Family quarrels? Traffic?

But as easy as it would be to blame every flare or symptom on our chronic illness, we know that sometimes we contribute to the situation, too. We allow stress to eat away at us inside. We don’t pay attention to the heat or the cold, even if we know that these extremes will bring physical harm to us. We allow family members or friends to draw us into their drama and, so, invite negative emotions and all the stress and syndromes that those can cause. And as for traffic or other “ordinary” challenges of daily life, well, we cannot avoid these completely, but sometimes we ignore the effects that they will have on us “just because we need to get something done.”

I know well the unpredictable nature of chronic illness. I’ve all but given up trying to predict how I will feel from one day to the next because lupus can be just that slippery. But I know, too, what some of the concrete triggers are that will cause me to be worn down, achy, or otherwise vulnerable to a flare. I know, for example, that extreme heat will make me so tired that it can take weeks to recover from exposure to it. Same thing with sunshine and some other things, too. And I’ve learned (the hard way, sometimes, but I’ve learned) how to adapt and avoid these triggers, even if it means “missing out” on some activities.

Do you cause your flares? How do you find out what your triggers might be? It helps to keep a very candid log of flares and what you were doing and feeling when they began. Track back to any spike in an activity, dietary routine, or overall lifestyle change that might have flipped the switch from “off” to “on.” Of course, the key word is, “candid.” If you find yourself thinking, “I never do anything to bring on a flare,” think again. Learn more about your health condition, talk with your doctor, examine your actions. You might uncover a trigger you didn’t consider before, or you might realize that you have been pushing yourself too hard to be “like you were before,” and are ignoring obvious things you could do to feel better (or, at least, prevent a flare from becoming worse).

Prayer always helps me center my thoughts and examine my actions, including those that involve living with multiple, serious chronic illnesses. As I pray, I ask for wisdom to do my part in staying stable in health and vigilant in my life. The more I listen to God’s guidance, the more I am able to do this. Then, I can work with my doctors to “change the things I can” and weather the storms that will come just the same.



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