To make it simple, most persons vastly prefer to do something of their own volition and with their own spin than to feel coerced into something they resent. It's human nature. We like to have self control.
So when I look at the many things I have to do to maintain my body, semblance of health, lows of pain, I try my best to make it something I control, rather than dwell on the aspects of something forced upon me. And the greatest way I have found, to add in power (and a bit of excitement), is to make it more enjoyable. I like to make it fun.
I have to exercise to maintain mobility, and exercise causes me pain. What a great paradox. I used to love running for miles and miles and spending hours pushing myself to the edge. But it got changed to a chore when I became ill! It no longer was something I got to enjoy doing, it became something I had to do to minimize suffering. But all of these feelings are primarily adjustments to my experience of exercise, not changes to the activity itself. So I needed to change how I saw it and felt about it.
With exercise, there are two primary things I do to increase the fun and my sense of control. First, I let myself choose. Always. For my daily exercise, the movement I need to do to keep my adhesions from forming a sturdy latticework, I get to choose. Whether it be yoga, running, biking, skateboarding, dancing--whatever I choose, I get the satisfaction of selecting it. Of taking one from all the others and saying, "I'll do this today." It turns from having to do exercise to getting to choose my exercise. Second, I add in a bit of fun and personal flavor to give myself something to look forward to. Such as with cycling, I sometimes watch a newly rented movie on my trainer, or with dancing, I can dance to dance games on the PlayStation. Or crank up ridiculous music and 'clean dance' my apartment. It becomes an absurd, fun, chosen game.
For meals, I used to feel a lot of resentment for losing gluten. For three years now, I have given up wheat. Otherwise I face bouts of Crohn's and endometriosis pain that make bread look like a bundle of cyanide. My greatest sorrow for the loss was related to my passion for baking. Prior to entering the worst throngs of endometriosis, I would bake almost weekly, putting together large frosted cakes and playing with colors, designs, and flavors. My favorite was banana chocolate. There were 'cookie weeks' where every day, I'd bake a different type of cookie. ...I went through a lot of butter and sugar (and had many willing acceptors of donations so I could protect my own waistline!). When I lost wheat, I packed up my frosting tools and cake pans and resolved I would never enjoy baking again. I felt I had lost all choice and control with the hobby.
However, after a long eventually, I learned to flip this assumption on its head and make it a game. I have a challenge--to make more delicious cakes with less conventional ingredients. When I still manage to make sumptuous deserts, with flavors and textures the same or better than my prior ventures, I win. I love serving food to unsuspecting friends and then gleefully informing them it was a gluten free meal. When they assume it has wheat in it, I win. When they don't believe me when I say it's gluten free, I get bonus points. Most of the time they will not believe me. Super bonus points! Diving back into baking and cooking and frying and learning how to both overcome the missing ingredients while improving the meals, that has become another game and great challenge. I'm probably going to write my own recipe book by the time I am done!
I am not trying to say that the difficulties and changes that my pain and illness has tossed into my life are welcomed editions. It's not like having a box of boggle thrown in your face and jumping up and down for joy for the game. I am just a normal person who sometimes resists improvement like a plague. But sometimes I can rise brilliantly to an occasion when the situation calls for it. Sometime we all can. And I do believe that by taking a rotten situation and turning it on its head, you can make a struggle into something exciting. Maybe even a bit fun.
The adjustments I have had to make for my illness have been rough. They have also taught me to be innovative, creative, and hard working. By refusing to be backed into a corner, and instead choosing for myself my way of coping, I have empowered myself and grown in previously impossible ways. I get to choose to make it exciting and empowering--I hope that is a choice and change that my readers make for themselves.
Thanks for Reading--The BedHead