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Why I Don't Make New Year's Resolutions as a Person With Dysautonomia

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I stopped making New Year’s resolutions years ago. The reason is not because I failed at them or did not need to change behaviors. On the contrary, I believe I need to work daily on improvements. Each new day provides opportunity. I love how even if I have a rough day, I can go to sleep and awake anew. I try not to become saddened or angered if the day was rough. Perhaps my body did not cooperate, I could not leave my home, or had to cancel plans. Regardless I typically think a new day is another beginning.

New Year’s resolutions, however, are never in my plans. Early on in the dealings with dysautonomia I made a decision to live life daily the best I could despite limitations. This may include riding my bike then guzzling fluids to ward off dehydration or even stopping in the middle of a ride to stretch and get blood flowing better to the brain. Despite adverse effects after biking, I would rather enjoy the ride than miss out on fun. Same goes for running a chronic illness support group in the community. The group meets just twice monthly for two hours each, and I leave meetings uplifted by the courage observed. But I also am  physically drained. My husband knows after the Saturday meeting I typically rest/sleep for at least two hours.

This decision to live the best life  was inspired by Dr. Blair Grubb, cardiologist and dysautonomia specialist at the University of Toledo Medical Center. From our first meeting in 2012 he concluded each clinic visit with the words “live, be well.”

Live to exhibit vigor, gusto or enthusiasm. Live life to the fullest; to experience firsthand.

Dr. Blair Grubb and I at a recent visit.
Dr. Blair Grubb and me at a recent visit.

About a year into our patient-doctor relationship I took his words to heart. I bought a stone bracelet from which states, “live.” I have replaced the bracelet several times, but for about 3.5 years I’ve worn it daily on the interior of the wrist with the word facing me. The bracelet is a daily reminder to try to live the day in the moment the best I can.

My live bracelet which is a daily reminder to live the best day possible.
My live bracelet which is a daily reminder to live the best day possible.

Dysautonomia and other chronic conditions produce unreliable bodies. One minute we may feel somewhat normal and the next we have to lie down to avoid passing out, throwing up or being too dizzy to stand. Some days are more difficult to keep a hopeful attitude. There are days in which getting out of bed and showering is all I accomplish. I may not even shower, just brush teeth, wash face and change into clean pajamas. The two dogs don’t seem to mind, however, as it means more time snuggling with me on a bed or couch. Thankfully the kids and husband are understanding too. These days remind me of how much I have lost. But each time I see Dr. Grubb I am reminded to live the best life I can despite adversity. A New Year’s resolution is not necessary. We are a population of fighters who work daily to relish life; that is a huge accomplishment.

In my last two visits, Dr. Grubb has changed up his goodbye a bit. “Go live your life,” he says. That is pretty good advice for all of us.

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Originally published: December 26, 2016
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