Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Strategies and alternatives for coping with fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder and other chronic illnesses

What does a “good” day look like to you?

Posted by wendyburnett on May 17, 2010

My definition

My personal idea of a good day is one where I don’t have to go to work, and I can spend some time just doing things that make me feel better. It does NOT mean that I’m not in pain (I haven’t had a day when the pain levels were below a 4 or 5 on the pain scale in at least 5 years.) It also doesn’t mean I’m not exhausted, or that I can actually remember all the things I need to take care of without lists, notes and reminders from the people around me.

What it does mean is that the pain levels are at a 6 or below, and that I can lay down with the hot pads when I need to, or take a nap. It means that I don’t have to spend somewhere between 5 hours and 9 hours on my feet, with fingers throbbing and burning from handling refrigerated food. It means that when my arm goes numb, or gets intensely painful, I can stop BEFORE it hurts so bad I want to cry. It means that I don’t have a migraine, I don’t get nauseated every time I eat, and I’m not exposed to chemicals and perfumes that trigger an asthma attack.

It means I’m actually able to run the vacuum cleaner, or wash the dishes, or dust; that I can do some laundry or take the bus to the store and actually buy something that will help me cope with my symptoms (even if that something is no more than a bottle of ibuprophen or a piece of ginger.) It means that I DON’T spend half the day wishing I could die and escape the pain and stress of living with a chronic illness when we don’t have the resources to treat it, to escape the guilt because my illness put us in this position.

Reframing: Defining YOUR good days

So, back to my question . . . What makes it a good day for you? Is it lower pain levels, someone doing something to help you, or being able to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through? Is it being able to cook a “real” meal, instead of grabbing a sandwich or a can of soup, running the vacuum, or baking cookies with the kids? If you haven’t defined what a good day is, how do you know that you’re having one?

Is your definition possible? If you have chronic pain, and your definition of a good day includes not having any pain at all, you may never have one and can end up feeling hopeless and depressed. If you change the definition just a bit, replacing “no pain” with “manageable pain” or “pain levels at least two levels below my average,” you increase the chances of having a good day, and that can give you hope.

Give Yourself a Treat – You Deserve It

My favorite “treat” is when I have the whole place to myself (living with a hubby and two roommates means that doesn’t happen very often,) and I can take a nice long soak in the tub. I love adding epsom salt (I don’t do bath oils any more, it’s too hard to clean up afterwards,) putting some soothing music on in the background, and lighting a couple of candles, then just relaxing in the wonderful (very hot) water until I’m limp.

Yesterday I added a luxurious homemade sugar scrub, since I’ve been having a lot of trouble with dry, flaky skin lately. I soaked for about 30 minutes, then used the sugar scrub to exfoliate all the flaky areas, including my face. When I got done, I felt wonderful. It was both relaxing and invigorating because I added some essential oils to the scrub for their specific properties, and just the action of the scrub on my skin increased circulation and made me feel better.

Taking good care of yourself is always important, but it becomes even more essential when you have a chronic illness like fibromyalgia or cfs/me. Depriving yourself of what you need, physically or emotionally, only makes your symptoms worse; making you feel even LESS deserving of being treated well and taken care of. There are lots of little things you can do for yourself that are free or very inexpensive, that will reduce your stress levels and make it a better day.

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4 Responses to “What does a “good” day look like to you?”

  1. Good days for me at this point are still pretty simple. It’s being able to get up in the morning, getting up in the morning not feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck, and not feeling dead again already by 5:00 p.m. For about the past year, I haven’t had very many of those. But being excruciatingly correct about taking care of myself has earned me a few back: They’re happening more and more lately, thank Maud.

    As my problems progress, a good day might mean a lot more than just lack of fatigue. And no amount of taking care of myself will make much difference, eventually. But for right now, that’s a good day.

    • Ginny,

      That sounds like a pretty good definition to me. I’ve discovered that the fewer “requirements” in the definition, the easier it is to meet it.

      I think that the worst thing about living with any chronic illness is that just about the time you get adjusted to “the way it is,” something changes and you have to find yet another way to cope with it. More of that spiral staircase you used to talk about, only in this case it’s going down instead of up.

  2. maureen said

    A good day for me is a day that I can actually find the energy to get out of bed, take a shower, and then stay awake for at least a few hours. If I lasted a whole day without needing a nap that would be an excellant day!

    • Mo,

      I love that definition, although for me it would have to be “being ABLE to take a nap if I need to.” (I have waaaayyy too many days when I desperately need to take a nap after the hubby leaves for work, but I have to get dressed and go to work instead.)

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