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My 15 Must-Haves for Coping With Chronic Illness

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Dealing with a chronic illness is a very hard thing to go through. The hardest part for me of having a chronic illness is how down I feel all the time due to pain or exhaustion. It affects me to the point where there are days I just shut everyone and everything out. Then I do what I shouldn’t. I spend hours telling myself this illness is my fault and it won’t ever go away.


But I need to stop focusing on the negative aspects of my illnesses and try harder to see the good things in my life, silly or not. So I made a list of all the things I think are must-haves, at least for me. I am sure your list will be different, but you should just sit for a minute and look around and see what things are a must-have for you.

1. Heat

This is a big must-have for me, especially my heating pad. There’s no denying heat helps! It can ease the aches and pains or just provide enough comfort on rough nights. I also bathe a lot more than most people because the Epsom salts and hot water help loosen my muscles further and help relax me.

2. A Comfy Bed

Some nights when I am really sore and just want to lay down, there is nothing better than our super comfy bed and pillows. Even in pain, just the bed and the softest pillows in the world (in my opinion) can make a world of difference as I sink into the bed and feel like I am floating on clouds. I know I am weird – it’s nothing new!

3. Music

Sometimes all it takes to change my mood is some great music and laying on the couch with my eyes closed.

4. Distractions – Silly or Not

There is just something about spending time searching for words in a word search that just helps me. It is hard to explain but here I go. When I used to be stressed as a teenager, sitting at the table and spending hours finding words (and even finding some that were not in the word search) gave me a good distraction from my stress. Now, years later, it still helps distract me – whether it’s from stress, people, my moods or my pain.

5. Girly Vanities

When I feel like I just got run over by a truck, sometimes just putting makeup and nice clothes on can help with my mood and make me feel better about myself if I look good on the outside. If I am going to be chronically ill, I may as well look good while dealing with it in my life.

6. A Good Book

Escaping into a book probably should go under “Girly Vanities” because it is a distraction, but at the same time it is just fun. You get to pretend to be someone else for a while.

7. Games

Whether it be board games, computer games or console games, there are many reasons to play games. One, it is a distraction. Two, you can escape into a game just like you can into books.

8. Netflix

On those days when it’s just so hard to handle even getting out of bed, there is Netflix. You can sit in bed or comfy chair and get lost in crime or medical shows (my preference) and binge-watch all you want at the same time you are relaxing.

9. Ice Packs

When I push myself past my limit, even if I don’t mean too, ice packs are great for swelling of my arms, legs and stomach that comes with me overdoing myself, even with something small like walking across the parking lot to throw away trash.

10. Tea

I have come across yet another symptom of my diseases, but it’s hard to explain what it has to do with my conditions. I get severe nausea at random times and places. Tea helps make the nausea bearable. It helps my nausea, and it can also help me sleep. I use Sleepytime tea from Walmart and it helps relax me enough that I can get some much-needed rest at night. Most people probably would use mint tea for upset stomachs, but for some reason this works better for me!

11. Laptop

I spend hours on the computer either laying in bed or sitting on our couch resting, especially if I am having a particular crappy day, and it helps even just a little to curl up with a good book and try to distract myself.

12. Letter Writing

I do a lot of writing and letter writing. Most of them do not get sent or kept. I use writing in any form, mostly to help me deal with my conditions and my feelings. I have always used writing to help me cope and sometimes communicate with someone if I cannot find the words I need.

13. Cuddly Stuffed Bear

Or, in my case, a cute, adorable, cuddly minion. Sometimes it amazes me just how much seeing a minion on either of their three movies or even just walking in our bedroom can make my day so much better. (Childish, I know. But that is just me!)

minion stuffed animals

14. Comfy Clothes

This is probably the biggest things that is a must-have. Always. Jeans and most other clothes that do not have an elastic waist make me flare which makes me swell everywhere and causes more pain on top of the already severe amount of pain I experience every single day and may feel for the rest of my life. It never made sense to me how fabric can make me hurt way more even just by wearing them. but maybe one day it will make sense. Until then, I will continue wearing my comfy, sometimes brightly colored sweatpants everywhere I go, in public or not.

15. TENS Unit

If you do not know what a TENS unit is, basically you attach four sticky pads to the area of your body that hurts (I usually put mine on my stomach area) and connect the pads to a little machine. This makes the pads vibrate and it helps loosen sore or hurting muscles.

So there you have it – my must-haves for dealing with my illnesses.

What little things do you think are a must-have for you? Comment below!

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Originally published: September 7, 2017
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