Temperatures in the 80′s had spring busting out all over with green, flowers, and pollen. It didn’t help that every newscast had some story about how allergy season was so much worse already this time of year, and the Weather Channel, every hour on the hour, talked about pollen counts. When you can’t breathe, and all the medicine, netipots, and Breathe Easy tea in the world isn’t helping, those “helpful” news conversations…well, they aren’t so helpful. And it isn’t news.
When you have a chronic illness, even if it’s something as “small” (And I put that in quotes, because not being able to breathe is not a small matter if you’re the stuffed one) as chronic rhinitis, it will flare. Weather changes have made me quite sensitive now between the rhinitis and the fibromyalgia (and the one makes the other worse). When we dropped from 80 to 50 in the span of about three hours, that temperature flux combined with the allergies laid me low.
In fact, last week was mostly a sneeze and pain-filled experience. When your chronic illness flares, it’s so important to take care of yourself, but also to have people around you who can take care of you, too. A great place to start is with these five tips.
#1 – Be gentle with yourself. Oh I know how the to do list goes undone and dinner becomes take out or fast food because you just don’t have the energy to cook. And then you want to get mad because you know that take out is unhealthy, but darn it, you just don’t feel well. Be gentle with yourself. Understand and forgive yourself for not being able to be superwoman (or superman). Don’t worry. The “kryptonite” of your flare will pass and you’ll be good as new.
#2 – Take care of yourself. It’s so easy to think that you “can’t afford” medicine or that going to a doctor is a waste of time. “It’s just allergies,” they’ll tell you. “Go home and rest.” But if you need medical care, whether that’s a doctor’s visit or medicine (I’d slacked on my sinus sprays), take it. Or at least be aware of your symptoms so when the allergies turn into the inevitable sinus infection, you know and can get treatment quickly.
#3 – Be aware of what helps, or what hinders. Some things, like eating bad, not getting enough rest, or getting frustrated/angry/upset set my fibro monster into a fury. Know what triggers your chronic symptoms and stay away from them. Or, if you feel them start to come on, like a lack of sleep or frustration, stop and take steps to correct it. Use some deep breathing or mindfulness exercises. Take a nap. Last week I was napping at 3pm like a kindergarten student. I wasn’t happy, but my body spoke, so I listened.
#4 – Call in reinforcements. Whether that’s the partner who can cook for you, to a good friend who can simply lend an ear, call on those who are around you for help. And if you don’t think you have anyone, visit online communities to find circles of friends. There are people out there who can help.
#5 – Know that this, too, shall pass. Flares don’t last forever; it just seems that way. Know that in a day or two you’ll feel better and can get back to your usual self. You will.