Finding Comfort in an Uncomfortable World With Chronic Illness


I am a creature of comfort. It is a part of who I am and who I have been since childhood.

As a child I loved to play, but also loved to sleep. I enjoyed quiet time quite a bit and still do. Hand me an adult coloring book, some gel pens, a good magazine, a book about exotic plants, travel, hiking and days gone by and I am in a very comfortable spot. Throw in a hot drink, a warm bath, snuggles from a loved one and some soothing music, comfort becomes queen; a welcome companion in an uncertain world.

I reach out to to people who need comfort. It’s in my blood. It makes me whole. It pushes me out of my own space, into another person’s need and gives me more than they receive. My goal is not to get something from them, but I always do. When the result is a huge hug, unexpected flowers, a card or unexpected phone call, I know that my comfort mission is complete.

Stepping outside of a comfort zone is difficult with someone with a hidden illness. The need to know how and where to find comfort takes over.

With interstitial cystitis, you need to know where restrooms are. Since flares are often inevitable it helps to know if there is a place to rest and be quiet. My energy level always dictates how I will move through my day and its activities. When visiting friends and family it helps to have time to retreat and rest. I have made it a point to talk to visitors who come and stay in my home to understand my need to have personal space and opportunity to spend some time alone to recharge. I give any opportunity for their comfort, however, because I want that for others. Do unto others.

Chronic pain tries to steal. It creeps up and in and stays  I have developed ways to cope with it and remain enveloped in, blanketed by, and covered in self-kindness when the flares of pain hit.

Deep breathing is a go-to for me. I use my Fitbit setting, “Relax.” It outlines breathing patterns that, when followed, brings oxygen to the areas that hurt. I practice channeling my walks on the beach or in the forest when I feel extremely tired.

I invite wellness. Every day I tell myself that I am well. After a while the body believes it.

A warm compress helps eliminate painful bladder flares. I make sure my heating pad is nearby and have ample reading material to get me through the lonely times when pain is present and being with people is just too hard.

Laughter is good medicine. I like to watch funny movies and talk to friends. The comfort of those who champion me and who care mean more than words. So, yes, I have become a comfort queen in my own right. It serves me well.

The world feels uncomfortable to me right now in the midst of so much upheaval politically, nationally and on so many levels. I use these same techniques to try and block out the bad news, the sorrow and replace it with quotes from people who have survived hard times and lived through difficulties. I take walks and photograph the world. It helps to think positive and believe in small ways, there is a whole lot right with the world than wrong. After all, without a positive attitude, comfort might never show up. And that is not the way to live.

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