26 'Hacks' That Can Make Cleaning Easier If You Have a Chronic Illness

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When you have a chronic illness, seemingly mundane tasks like washing the dishes or doing a load of laundry can be difficult and exhausting. Doing more thorough household chores such as vacuuming, mopping or scrubbing counters can easily exacerbate chronic pain and fatigue. On bad flare days, cleaning may not be possible at all.

Therefore, many of those with chronic illness have developed certain tricks or found accommodations to help maintain their home while they battle various symptoms. We asked our Mighty community to share some of their “hacks” for making cleaning with a chronic illness easier. Perhaps the following can be of help to you as well.

 

Here’s what the community shared with us:

1. “Cleaning in sections! I don’t stress about the whole picture at once anymore. I’ll work on laundry one day, maybe the bathroom another day, organizing one space at a time, etc. It’s much easier to get a small area/specific chore done and it still feels like you accomplished something – because you did!”

2. “Have extra underwear. Lots. Doing laundry only every six to eight weeks. $25 and two-plus hours at a laundromat instead of multiple trips. Priceless.”

3. “It takes a lot of energy to repeatedly bend down and pick things up off of the floor for us with chronic illnesses. The best thing I have found is to use one of those long reacher/grabber things. It conserves a lot of energy for me.”

4. “Some things I do to make things easier are to use disposable plates, silverware and aluminum pans to cook, use a sponge mop to clean my shower/tub to help with my back and alternate between activities that exert a lot of energy and things I can do sitting down.”

5. “Baby wipes! Paraben-free ones. They are amazing. I use them to clean sinks, work surfaces, clothes – all to delay having to do a proper, long, tiring clean or a washing load.”

6. “I ‘mop walk.’ I put small towels under my feet and spray cleaner from a bottle as I shuffle around the house cleaning the floors!”

7. “I have a Roomba, got it for Christmas. It’s fabulous! I know that brand is expensive, but I’ve seen cheaper versions from other brands at Target. It’s amazing how much less exhausting it is not lugging that big ol’ vacuum around, and how much better I feel with clean floors.”

8. “I wear painters’ masks so I don’t aggravate my dust and mold allergies.”

9. “Products on infomercials are actually made for people with disabilities. So, I scope those out a lot and get the ones I think will make my life easier. I figure if they can do the job 80 percent as well as I could and save me energy without causing a pain flare, it will be worth it.”

10. “Hire someone! I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but it’s been such a relief for me. Even if I can’t have them do everything, it takes a lot off my plate.”

11. “I have my children do it! Seriously, I have given up on having a pristine house. I have baskets and bins all over the house that things get chucked into. I use disposable wipes for cleaning the bathroom and kitchen. I nag my family to put things back.”

12. “I took a minimalist approach. I got rid of a lot of stuff I just didn’t use and it made cleaning and laundry a lot easier. I know minimalism isn’t for everyone but it did help me.”

13. “When tidying, place things ‘in the direction’ of where they need to end up. Only travel when there’s lots of stuff heading that way.”

 

14. “When I’m not feeling great but have things that need to get done, I do ‘commercial break’ cleaning. I will be watching TV and every commercial break I get up and do something until the show comes back on.”

15. “I use a mop to scrub the bath tub and shower. It saves me having to bend too much to scrub.”

16. “Decided that the level of clean I used to feel was crucial is not necessary now. I have relaxed my standards.”

17. “Cleaning in stages really helps! For example: clean both bathroom mirrors and counters today, do the toilets and floors tomorrow. There is no shame in splitting up rooms or tasks to keep from spending all your spoons.”

18. “Vinegar and baking soda. I let it soak for 30 minuets and any mess just wipes away with ease. No hard scrubbing.”

19. “My hack for clearing the mess out of each room is to hang a bunch of used/reusable shopping bags over my wrist, or the door handle for whichever room I’m in. Then designate each bag for a different destination. Like that dirty glass from my nightstand? Goes in the ‘kitchen’ bag. Shoes? Living room bag. Etc. That way, I don’t have to walk back and forth all over the house 100 times just to clean one room. When I’m finished, I just distribute the bags to each room once. It also works to put the bags in a laundry basket, then scoot the basket around the house like a delivery truck.”

20. “I ask my mom over to help me by ‘distracting’ me from the pain so I get more done since I am entertained. As a bonus, she helps because… well, she’s a mom. Also, blast music or comedy skits in the background. Again, distraction.”

21. “I have a robo-vacuum and one of those grabber arm things. I also use the Unfuck Your Habitat app because it’s geared towards people with chronic illness, mental illness and disability.”

22. “When I am tackling the kids’ rooms/toys, I sweep their toys into a pile so I can sit down and sort them all at once (usually into buckets to make putting them away easier) rather then walking around picking them up individually.”

23. “I have a service pup pick things up for me. Would never get anything done without him.”

24. “I use cleaners that can be sprayed and left to do most of the work themselves then just wiped off. If I need to do serious scrubbing, I use a scrub brush or a sponge on a long handle so that I can hold them without my hands cramping.”

25. “Take breaks! Work for a little bit then take a small break. Work then break. It’s efficient and helps get more things done in the long run.”

26. “Honestly my biggest tip/hack for anyone who is chronically ill is to be gentle with yourself. If the washing doesn’t get done today it’s no big deal. If you forgot to do something that needed to be done it’s not the end of the world. Write a list so you don’t forget next time. Our bodies are hard enough on us without ourselves being even harder. Be kind, be patient, be gentle. Treat yourself how you would treat another chronically ill person.”

What’s a “hack” you use to making cleaning with a chronic illness easier? Let us know in the comments below!

26 'Hacks' That Can Make Cleaning Easier If You Have a Chronic Illness
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How Chronic Illness Has Affected My Sense of Self

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There is a side effect of my condition that has taken me by surprise. I have adjusted to the uncertainty, the anxiety that surrounds knowing something is wrong with me, but not knowing what. I’ve learned to monitor my energy levels, manage my stomach issues, to smile politely and hold back the tears as specialist after specialist tells me they’re sorry, but they don’t know what’s wrong with me. That this all-encompassing illness that has affected every aspect of my life is still unlabelled is difficult, but what has shaken me is how strongly it has affected my sense of self.

 

I can no longer work, socializing is rare and anything I would like to do is surrounded by a caveat of “will I be physically able to do this?” – the answer to which is often no. Sometimes I feel hollow, a makeshift person stitched together by physical symptoms and controlled by circumstances, not a creative individual defined by hopes and dreams, passions and hobbies.

I am not my illness, but I am not the same person I was before I got sick either. The past few years have taught me a lot about myself, both positive and negative. While I stay ever optimistic that they will eventually figure out what’s wrong with me, part of me wonders what will happen when that day comes. My hopes for the future are so centered on getting better that it’s impossible to see beyond that. What do I want to do with my life? Where do I see myself in five years? 10 years? I know how suddenly you can be blindsided by things outside of your control, and how things you take for granted – working, socializing, hobbies, can so easily be taken away from you.

Having lost several years to this condition, I’m torn between a desperate desire to hit the ground running, a determination to not let a minute go to waste, to even now be working towards my dreams as much as I can and an empty, gnawing panic – I don’t know what they are. I sometimes feel as though I don’t know who I am anymore. For so long, everything has revolved around my health – so much so that I worry I’ve lost parts of myself along the way.

I read an article in last week’s The Sunday Times Style Magazine by Chloe Fox about the difficulty of post-cancer recovery, in which she discussed the importance of “the acknowledgement that this part of the journey is hard – harder in many ways, than the illness itself.” She quotes Dana Jennings when discussing a similar topic, remarking that “this isn’t about sadness and melancholy. It is more profound than that. Broadly, I have a keen sense of being oppressed, as if I were trapped, wrapped up in some thick fog coming in off the North Atlantic.”

This article so beautifully put my feelings into words that I felt as though I’d been punched in the stomach. I had been struggling with this sensation that I couldn’t verbalize for a long time now – something that, as a writer, I found extremely disheartening and confusing. I feel that thick fog surrounding me. I feel as though my core, my dreams, my passions and creativity are lost in it and it is too dense to see through. I grope blindly in the dark, hoping to blunder my way through it. I fear that I have spent so long learning to check myself to the limitations of my condition that I have forgotten how to dream outside of them.

I know that firstly, I need to be diagnosed, and secondly, treated, before I worry about post-recovery plans. I need to accept there may never be a post-recovery. Recovered or not, I still have this urge to reclaim myself. I want to do whatever I can now, whether it is just small steps or large ones, to work towards my dreams, whatever they may be. My illness does not define me, but in order for me to figure out who I am, I must navigate that fog of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

I have lost many things to this condition, but I refuse to lose myself.

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Thinkstock photo via artlazareva.

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We Need to Spread Love, Not Judgment, to Those With Health Conditions

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While waiting at a red light the other day, I heard a song on the radio and got these verses stuck in my head: “If you want the world to know, we won’t let hatred grow. Put a little love in your heart. And the world will be a better place for you and me. You just wait and see. I hope when you decide, kindness will be your guide. Put a little love in your heart.” Then I started to think about everyone whose lives have been affected by chronic health conditions and disabilities like myself.

 

 

I could never figure out why some people were taunted because of how they looked/acted due to the side effects from the medications they took or the illness itself. This usually happens in school where certain pupils are targeted by their peers because they are different from the rest of the class. There are also adults who struggle, due to being in chronic pain,  and have supervisors who make their lives miserable on the job for taking time off due to surgery or a flare-up of their condition. Nobody has that right to belittle another’s self-esteem or attack their character for any reason just because they feel like it.

Speaking from experience, I was that student in seventh and eighth grade the kids made fun of. I was that employee for who the supervisors really made it difficult to do my work. I still managed to accomplish my tasks  even though they let me go anyway by claiming I wasn’t meeting their expectations, which I feel was an excuse to get around the disability law. I was very upset about being targeted due to my health issues but I was able to find another position within a local hospital’s medical billing department. The employees supported one another in times of need and the supervisors really understood when a biller had to take time off due to a serious illness or surgery. I felt very blessed to have worked with such a great team for four years until I made the tough decision to put my health ahead of my career. I was in a very bad Crohn’s flare and couldn’t drive in severe pain anymore back and forth to my job. I had to take a step back, let my body rest and try another treatment to get myself back into remission.

pencil drawing of two people holding hands

I’ll never figure out why people like us are looked down upon as a liability on the job, picked on in school or ignored in public – for instance, if a person in a wheelchair drops a bag of groceries and could use some assistance, but nobody stops to help them.

Someday, I hope everyone can “put a little love in their hearts” without discriminating and chastising those who have disabilities or medical issues. Then we can “make the world a better place. You just wait and see.”

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16 Questions People Wish They Had Asked Their Doctor About Prednisone

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Editor’s note: This piece is based on the experience of individuals. Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

Prednisone is a corticosteroid that is often prescribed to help with inflammatory conditions or autoimmune diseases. It can very helpful in managing symptoms, but many people may experience side effects, especially with long-term use. Like with any medication, it is important to have an in-depth conversation with your doctor before starting on it. Your doctor may provide you with some information or possible side effects, but advocating for yourself and asking questions can be highly beneficial. After all, you are the one who knows your body best.

To help you prepare for your appointment, we asked our Mighty community to share questions they wish they had asked their doctor when they were prescribed prednisone. Hopefully the following questions will give you some ideas for how best to equip yourself for a thorough and comprehensive conversation with your doctor. If we missed something you think is important to ask, let us know in the comments below.

Here’s what the community shared with us:

1. “I have a question I should have asked (although [prednisone] helps me greatly). Do you all know of it causing teeth problems or causing teeth problems to become more prominent?”

2. “I wish I would have asked about the side effects. I had no choice but to be on it, but five years later the side effects are outweighing the benefits.”

3. “How can I control any cravings I might get?”

4. “Is it absolutely necessary that I take it?”

5. “How likely was it I would get stuck on it long-term? What are the long-term side effects? I knew the short-term ones but never knew it could cause secondary adrenal insufficiency until I was on it for over six months and had a blood infection.”

6. “How will prednisone affect my anxiety?”

7. “How long will the side effects last even after I have finished taking the medication?”

8. “Is there another option that we can safely try first?”

9. “How do I avoid the weight gain and bloating?”

10. “How will prednisone affect my mental health conditions?”

11. “I wish I had known to ask about dental issues and what effect it would have for diabetes.”

12. “Will this change my physical appearance?”

13. “When coming off, what side effects would there be? My right foot and leg swelled overnight when I was coming off prednisone.”

14. “How will this medicine affect my stomach?”

15. “Do you think I will ever be able to come off it?”

16. “What are the most common side effects and what steps can I take to lower the risks?”


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Your Spouse Has Chronic Fatigue? Here Are Ways to Support Them

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The Mighty community shares ways that people can help their partners/spouses with chronic fatigue.

Read the full version of Your Wife Has Chronic Fatigue? Here Are 22 Ways to Support Her.

Read the full transcript:

Your Spouse Has Chronic Fatigue? Here Are Ways to Support Them

“Best thing my husband does: support me in trying different treatments.”

“Sometimes we just need a pair of ears to listen. We don’t always want someone to try and fix things.”

“Someone saying, ‘Don’t get up, I’ll get it for you!’ is a huge relief.”

“Don’t be afraid to voice your own pain or struggles. We complain, so complain with us.”

“Treat me like a burrito…wrap me up in blankets with my heating pad to keep me warm and bring me a bottle of water, ibuprofen and the remote for Netflix.”

“Get involved! Go to doctor appointments and tests and procedures. Get to know your spouse’s conditions.”

“Pain and tiredness is incredibly relative. Make sure you’re using your partner’s rubric for things instead of your own.”

“It’s super important to talk to your spouse, find out what things they struggle with and try to help with those.”

“Make or get us food. Food prep takes so much of our daily energy.”

“Just love me, hold me and let me know you are there for me!”

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Thank You to the Friends Who Met Me After Chronic Illness

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To the friends who have met me after chronic illness,

You may have met me through my kids. You may have met me in the neighborhood. But that doesn’t matter, what matters is that you met me after I became chronically ill – and you still chose to become my friend.

You weren’t put off by my disheveled looks, my wrinkled clothes, my messy house, my tired eyes, my seldom seen smiles. You didn’t judge me, look at me strangely or differently, or walk away.

 

You gave me a chance because you are a special person. One who can see beyond appearances and chaos, and focus on what is important.

People. Helping others. Being a good person and friend.

You met me after Lyme disease and premenstrual dysphoric disorder took over part of my brain and made me more anxious, confused and irritable. You met me after I was recovering from surgery and going through surgical menopause. You still supported me after I learned I had multiple pulmonary embolisms, and didn’t know whether or not I would survive. You met me when I could barely take care of my children, let alone myself.

But, you still stuck around. You still gave me a chance. You still cared no matter what.

You didn’t stop coming around when I could not even make it to the door because I was too anxious to answer it. You didn’t stop calling or texting me to see if I needed anything, even though I could never return the favor. You didn’t stop asking me to do things even though you knew I couldn’t for quite a while.

You helped get my young son to school each and every day so he wouldn’t miss out on anything. You made sure he was safe and well cared for. You made sure he had fun whenever he was with you and your children. You made sure my 11-year-old daughter was also OK and had what she needed to get through the many crises we faced these past two years.

You never complained, you were just there. Right where I needed you, right when I needed you. You never asked for anything in return.

That is the definition of a true friend. Helping and caring for someone and being there without any expectations or desire for a reward or returned favor. That is the definition of you.

You are selfless. You are a wonderful person. You are just what I needed, but never thought I’d find again due to my maladies.

I am very lucky I have a great husband who helps me with everything. But it is also nice to have some good friends. Friends like you. To laugh with, to spend time with, to grow with, to become better people with.

I had almost given up hope that I would find good friends in my new home state. After my many ailments, I thought it would be impossible.

But there you were, walking slowly but surely by my side. Maybe you saw a glimmer in my eye of what I once was – active, funny and spontaneous. Maybe you got brief hints of what my personality truly is, when free from the constraints of pain and sickness.

woman sitting in the forest next to a tree

In a world where many people are focused upon material things and influential people, you choose not to be. You can see past all of that, and get right to the heart of the matter. You were able to see what was in my heart.

I can’t begin to tell you how much you mean to me, and to my family. I can’t begin to thank you enough for how you have helped me, and for how you have accepted me and all of my limitations.

Having you around has brought some newfound joy to my life. Having you around has helped me recover. Having you around has helped me smile again.

A lot of people in their 40s have to deal with at least one chronic illness. They are lucky if they have good friends around to help them adjust and get through it. But, making new friends when you have more than one debilitating condition is very difficult. It can be a very lonely time. Online support groups can be very helpful, but nothing takes the place of a nearby friend. One who is there to listen, commiserate with and to give you a hug when you need it the most.

Thank you for being my friend. I know it can be hard sometimes because of all I am dealing with, but hopefully better health and good times are just around the corner. I look forward to sharing those times with you.

And as I struggle to fall asleep tonight, I will have a smile on my face because I know that kind people like you exist in this world.

You are just what the doctor ordered.

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