Building a Support System

Everyone needs a solid support system. A network of family and friends that can be with you through the good times and the bad, whether you have a chronic illness or are perfectly healthy, we all run into situations in life where we need a person (or people) to just be there for us and with us. Sometimes this system is made up primarily of family, sometimes it’s friends we’ve had since childhood, and sometimes it’s friends we’ve made more recently. When you live away from where your family lives, it can be even more crucial to build a network made up of friends. If you have a chronic illness, having a solid network, whether it’s big or small, is also incredibly important.

IMG_0139Just a little throwback photo of me and my sibs.

I live away from where I grew up (I’m a whole province over) with few opportunities to go home to visit (though luckily I have parents and siblings who have come out here a few times each, a family group chat which is usually hilarious; and a mom whom I talk to on the phone daily), and I have an autoimmune disease, so the need for that solid friend network has become integral to my mental well-being. As much as I want to say, “lucky for me this has happened,” it wasn’t really luck so much as I set forth to make friends, and these friends have turned out to be just awesome people with whom this network came naturally. Whether it’s my guy friend, who always offers to drive me around because he’s concerned about my pain levels, or two of my girlfriends who have no problem travelling with me even though we sometimes may need to make accommodations (actually one of them says I walk too fast, so maybe we’re not making as many accommodations as I think we are), or my other girlfriend who also has an autoimmune disease so we just have an understanding of what the other is going through and offer advice when needed. This is the core for me, though the network is growing as I make new friends, and as some of my friends from back home have moved closer and I can see more often (plus FaceTime is an amazing invention).

tcuzRO4FSTiQuGvnAzgOscar party antics with a few of my peeps and their SO’s.

Through these people, I feel safe and secure, I have people to support me (and whom I in turn can also support), and who are available to hang out with (even if they move a little outside of the city). Utilizing your network, your people is something I highly recommend. And hopefully they utilize you too. And telling them that you appreciate them is also important.

IMG_1042My parents and I in Vienna in 2016.

Dedicated to my friends: M, K, K, N & C – you are all the best.
And to my family: Mom, Dad, Spence, Andy & Lynda – I love you

Review of “Ask the Doctor”

I recently watched a few episodes of Ask the Doctor on Netflix. Specifically I watched the episodes on Pain (surprise, surprise) and on Genes. I went on to the second episodes because, well, I guess I felt the first episode was good enough to give a second try. When the show first appeared on Netflix I was interested and immediately put it on my list. I always enjoy a good documentary or docuseries. Plus the content of this particular show peaked my interest.

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For those of you who haven’t seen the show, the Doctors in the show are all from Australia. They do some experiments, talk to experts in particular areas, and try to answer the mysteries and questions of some commonly discussed health-related issues. Literally things you would go see a doctor about. In the “pain” episode, they discuss common causes of pain, how our brain pathways affect our experiences of pain, and took some brain scans of one of the doctors while he was experiencing mild pain. In the “genes” episode, one of the doctors had a full genetic scan to see if he was a carrier for many prominent heritable genes.

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What I like about the show: It’s very informative. They try to give a lot of information without making the episodes too long (episodes are just under half an hour). Also, those lovely Australian accents are great to listen to, and all of these doctors happen to be very good looking (gotta love the entertainment biz).

downloadI wouldn’t mind any of them as my doctor 😉
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What I dislike about the show: They skimmed over chronic pain in that episode. Mostly what they did talk about for chronic pain just attributed it to our brains being too sensitive. There’s obviously a lot more to it in any illness or disorder that is known to cause chronic pain. That being said, “chronic pain” isn’t the title of the episode. Just “pain” is. Perhaps season 2 could delve more into this issue.

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I recommend this show if you have a particular interest in any of the topics, which in addition to the two listed above include obesity, diet, sleep, alcohol, exercise, gut, cold and flu, senses, and sex. It’s also nice because you don’t have to worry about watching every episode or the episodes in order. It’s more informative than entertainment – I feel like it would’ve belong on TLC (the channel, not the fabulous music group) in the ’90s.

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If you’re not feeling great, what should you do? Ask the doctor (well, actually tell the doctor, but same point). Have a great week everyone!

Foot pain

The past few days I’ve been experiencing almost crippling foot pain. Specifically, it’s on the ball of my right foot. All the way across. Pain level ranges from 7-8 and only occurs when I walk. Naturally, after a few days of this pain, I decided to research it online. Two research topics a) what could it be, and b) is this common with lupus.

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I found a forum that had other lupus patients complaining about crippling foot pain. The pain varied in location for different people. Most complained that their doctors didn’t do anything about it, or that their GPs ignored it while they were waiting for diagnosis. I also stumbled across a research study on SLE and metatarsalgia. As it turns out, metatarsalgia’s symptoms sound exactly like what I’m experiencing. According to the study 5.9% of SLE patients studied were experiencing this kind of pain.

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So today, like a silly person I go to a walk-in (my clinic but not my regular doctor) and ask him about it. He says it has to be planter’s fasciitis. It will go away on its own. I look up this planter’s fasciitis (on mayo clinic’s site because it’s legit) and that describes heel pain… so not what I have. I’m, once again annoyed, with the terrible answers I get from a GP. Luckily, I had a physio appointment after. I have a new physio (my old one moved to BC, which is sad because I loved him but this new one seems good too). She didn’t have a guess as to what the pain was, but said it might be connected to some other parts of my body being off as well. She worked on the foot, as well as my hip. The pain is maybe 10% better after the appointment, which is better than nothing but still not great.

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So far the consensus is to stay off my feet. Nearly impossible since I volunteer at the children’s hospital tonight, and then work tomorrow night and Thursday night. Maybe I can rest it on the weekend? Has anyone else experienced this kind of pain? I’d love to hear other stories and thoughts so feel free to comment on this or any other post I’ve done.