When you live with conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, your entire life gradually gets an overhaul. Although you are the person who has been diagnosed with a chronic illness, it can affect your entire household and your family experiences those changes along with you.
I eventually came to depend on my husband more and more as my health quickly deteriorated. He did the laundry, washed the dishes, cleaned our home, cooked our dinner, took out the trash, took the dog outside, helped me shower and bathed our baby. He was now coming home to two additional full-time jobs. My marriage relationship was still a strong one but obviously there would be times when my husband needed rest and relaxation and would not be able to get any at home. It took quite some time before I was able to push myself to do simple things that I would have been able to do before my health worsened. I decided that I was going to be more active in pursuing a life of normalcy.
I invested in a slow cooker so that I could eliminate one less thing my husband had to do when he came home from work. I purchased food storage bags and containers of different sizes to help me make snacks and meals ahead of time. I would figure out meal ideas that would have left overs for at least two or three days. Whatever I could do the night before I would do so whenever possible.
Completing house chores was another area that I had to figure out how to do with limited mobility. I remember sitting on the couch one day and pushing the vacuum back and forth as much as I could while still sitting. I would even drag a computer desk chair from room to room to sit in while completing chores. I purchased large decorative storage bins to clear up any areas of clutter, to store our child’s toys in and even to pick-up all the things around our home that needed to be put away or returned back to the room those things belonged to. I learned my own system for folding clothes. I would separate clothes by person and put them into different laundry bags and place them in front of the appropriate dresser. If I wasn’t able to fold and put away the clothes myself, my husband would pick up the slack for me.
When our child began to walk and eventually be able to talk, it was hard for our child to be able to understand why there were some things that could be done with dad but not with mom. From a very early age, our child instinctively knew there was a difference in the activities that could be done with either parent and it was and still is heart wrenching at times. Although there are plenty of children’s books in our home, I often have to use a phone or tablet application that contains narrated stories. Our child especially loves the bedtime ones. When bath time came for our child, my husband would make the bubble bath and I would sit and monitor our child while in the bath. When it was time for our child to be washed up, my husband would return to do so and then we would both help get our child ready for bed.
I unfortunately did have to give up participating in most social activities in order to reserve my energy and not set off additional pain flare-ups. Once you begin to connect the dots to which activities or tasks causes more harm than good to your health, you will learn to plan ahead before an activity and make much wiser decisions for yourself.
I finally began to find ways to simplify my routine and be able to meet the needs of my family to the best of my ability. Creating a routine that can enable you to contribute to your own care and the care of your loved ones can empower you and teach you how to manage your health conditions instead of allowing your health conditions to manage you. All you have to do is figure out how to simplify your life wherever possible and I think you can and will be able to live a life of normalcy.
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