Renew, Refresh, Revive! How do you find the balance between living life and living life with an illness or disability? The difference between living life and living life with an illness or disability is living in the moment while you are waiting for the moment. So, while you are waiting for things to fall into place, waiting for a cure, waiting for the next doctor’s appointment, waiting for the next test result, or waiting for your child to learn the next step learn to enjoy your life now. Do not let the illness or disability be an excuse for you to stop living a life that is worth living. Renew your commitment to your faith, your family, your finances, your fitness, and your future. Too many times we look for excuses to not work out, to not spend time with your spouse, to not budget your finances each month, or to not stay grounded in your faith. Renew your commitment to yourself to stay committed to your life each day.
Nurture Your Faith
Being part of a community of faith is a critical aspect of your daily health. You need to be connected to a church family that can be there to help support, encourage, and care for you along the way. Now you may think, “what does my faith life have to do with an illness?”. Here are some seeds of faith that will help you cultivate a life of beauty: Seeds of strength and courage There is something to be said about being calm in the midst of a storm. Dealing with a chronic health issue can exhaust you in every way. Having strength and courage to walk through the fire will bring about an inner peace that is soothing to the soul. Sow the Word Reading and mediating on God’s word will strengthen your faith during the ups and downs of the emotional roller coaster. Start to change As you develop your faith your perspective on life will start to change. The little things in life that used to cause you to worry won’t be as important anymore. Choosing to see the glass as half full will begin to ease the fear and anxiety you have of the unknown. Surround yourself Surrounding yourself with a church family helps to create a circle of care for you and your family. Your church family will be there to help you along the way. Serve others Nurturing your faith in the church gives you an opportunity to help serve and minister to others. Helping others is good medicine for the mind, body, and soul! It is an opportunity to give back, reach out, or share your story with others. And with this opportunity brings blessings! As you cultivate and care for these seeds of faith they will help to bring restoration and healing in you and through you.
Cultivate Your Family
It is easy to let the illness become the main focus of your family’s life. Try not to do this. Keep things in perspective. It is important to stay connected to family, friends, activities, and everyday life. Work hard to keep a family routine. Have fun together as a family. Keep your family routine as “normal” as possible. Go on vacation, go to family gatherings, have the birthday parties. Schedule time together as a family that is not involved around the illness. Schedule time away with your spouse. Do not forget about your other children. Talk with them, help them deal with their issues and concerns.
Strengthen Your Finances
Illness and disability take your finances to a whole new level. Not only do you have health insurance to pay you now have another layer of healthcare costs to add to your financial budget. Anything from medications, therapies, and medical tests not covered by insurance to durable medical equipment, wheelchairs, incontinent supplies, feeding supplies and everything else in between. Take the time to read up on your insurance coverage. Learn about the various programs, government agencies, disease specific organizations and not-for-profit groups and what they have to offer. Talk with other families to see how they work with providers and get coverage for their healthcare needs. Money matters do not need to be stressful. Seek out a financial planner or estate lawyer to help you plan accordingly for your loved one’s needs. They will help outline the steps you need to take regarding estate planning, wills, trusts, advance directives, guardianships, medicaid, VA benefits and more.
Maintain Your Fitness
Maintain your fitness by working out your mind, body, and soul. You will find that caregiving is a marathon. The more you take care of yourself the easier it will be to take care of your loved one. Stress is one of the biggest problems that you will deal with in living with an illness. Because your world changes at a moment’s notice the stress of dealing with that change is always lurking around. Refresh your mind and attitude with a positive, “I can do this” mentality. Your needs may be great or few. Your needs may be medical or behavioral. Choose to focus on the positive instead of the negative. Find a time to work out. Anything from exercising, running, participating in a sport, or walking around your neighborhood. The important thing is to move. Feeding your soul is just as important as feeding your body. Learn to quiet your heart and still your mind. Prayer, meditation, and times of reflection will help you process things that have happened, current events, and the days ahead. Feeding your soul will give you peace for the journey.
Rekindle Your Future
Life is full of so many opportunities. Yet, somehow when we live a life surrounded by chronic illness and disability all of our hopes and dreams seem to fall by the wayside. Instead of planning for our future we are lucky enough to just get through today. Instead of hoping for our dreams we focus on the fears of the unknown, who will care for our loved one when we cannot, or we fall into a pit of despair and depression not seeing any ending in site. I want to encourge you; revive your goals and dreams of what you want to do, what you want to accomplish, where you want to be in spite of the disability or illness. Do not focus on what you cannot do but focus on what you can do. See your loved one’s ability to live a life not of their own choosing and yet living it to the best of their ability. Open the door to the endless possibilities of what God has in store for you and your loved one. The challenge is to pursue life and live it!