My name is Marya and I live in Florida with my husband and three of my younger children (16, 18 and 21.) As a special needs mom with chronic illness I’ve learned a lot about juggling spoons since my diagnosis in 2010. On these pages you can find hope and encouragement for a healthier mind, body and spirit.
Can you believe it’s August already? In many parts of the country summer is coming to an end though here in Florida we’ll be waiting until October for the first cold front. Journaling is a great way to spend some non screen time when you’re stuck in the house. It’s a great way to practice soul care and document what’s going on in your life. Read on to find August journal prompts to jump start your journaling practice.
August Journal Prompts
List your personal and work goals for the month of August.
It is National Simplify Your Week. What can you do to celebrate it?
Have you tried any Marie Kondo strategies of clearing your clutter?
Find 10 things in your home you can donate or recycle, that you no longer need anymore.
What are some of the things that worry you the most?
For many of us, this is the hottest time of the year. What can you do to cool off?
How do you prefer to spend your hot days?
What type of music do you love to listen to in the summer?
It is National Book Lover’s Day – what is your favorite book genre?
What is your favorite childhood book?
What types of books do you like to read now?
Write down a list of words that describe your day.
Draw a picture that makes you think of August.
Have you ever been to any summer concerts?
Meteor showers often happen around this time in August. Do you have any memories or experiences with them?
Make a word cloud about August.
What is a memory you have from this time of year?
Write a stream of consciousness journal entry today.
What is one thing you feel you are struggling with right now?
Imagine you were going to write a short story about a topic of your choosing. What is the first thing that comes to mind?
List 3 reasons you have not completed one of your top goals. What is holding you back?
What do you want to get done before summer is over?
Call up an old friend just to talk, then write about it.
Use this as a creative writing day. You choose the topic!
August usually means back to school. Do you have fun things to talk about?
Did you enjoy going to school?
What was your favorite grade?
Did you have a favorite subject?
Fall is coming up – what are you looking forward to?
If you could do any one thing today, what would it be?
Amazon Prime Day starts at 12:00 am Monday, July 15 and ends Tuesday evening July 16 EST If you’ve never shopped Prime Day before, it’s a once-a-year MASSIVE sale at Amazon and even bigger than Black Friday. Over 100,000 items get put on sale!
My name is Marya and I’m an Amazon Prime addict. (with apologies to Friends of Bill W.)
Seriously, as a special needs mom with chronic illness, what’s not to love about it? Back in the day I used to wear myself out running to 4 or 5 stores looking for everything that I needed on my list.
It was exhausting, and now more than ever I can’t keep up with it, especially during the Florida summer. I keep a running list of things that I need and when I see that too many things are going on for me to get to the store, I order what I need on Amazon Prime and most of the time I get it within two days!
From books to electronics to kitchen gadgets and everything else an introvert could love, I’ve made good use of my Prime account over the years.
Prime members will be able to score exclusive deals on electronics, toys, video games, movies, clothing, patio, lawns and garden, sports, outdoor items and more.
If you’re not already an Amazon Prime member, today’s a great time to sign up for the free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime so that you can take advantage of all the Prime Day deals!
This credit is valid for new and existing Prime members who have never signed into the Amazon app before. (And the app is one of the easiest ways to keep track of all your favorite deals on Prime Day!)
Sign in to your Amazon account for the first time on the app.
You’ll receive a $10 credit via e-mail within 7 days.
Your $10 credit will be good on any $20 in-app purchase.
Then keep an eye on those deals! Quick tip..have a plan before hand so that you don’t overspend. It’s a good idea to review your wish list.
As deals unfold I’ll keep this page updated with deals that I think would be a good fit for my readers. What kinds of deals will you be looking for? Share in the comments below!
**Remember that these deals won’t go on sale until the time noted. If you’re interested in any of these items, it’s best to add them to your cart NOW so that it’s much easier to snag them when they go live.
Note: The following items are expected to go on sale during Prime Day! NOTE THAT THEY WON’T GO ON SALE UNTIL THE TIME NOTED. If you’re interested in something, I recommend you add them to your cart NOW as it will make it much easier to grab them when they go on sale.
Your mindset determines your course in life. Do you find yourself struggling with your personal life or at work? Does it seem like you keep trying but nothing ever pans out for you? Have you been struggling in work or in your personal life? Do you keep trying but it seems like everything you do is a waste? If you’re starting to feel like success is completely out of reach for you, you’re wrong…read on for positive mindset tips that you can implement right away!
As a matter of fact, there’s a good chance that you’re already doing everything right! The problem isn’t what you’re doing, it’s how you’re thinking. If you want to achieve success in any sphere of life – whether it’s at home, with your family, at work or at school, the key to success is through a positive mindset.
Whether it’s through a toxic past or overwhelming life challenges, many of us are programmed to think negatively about our life situation. Perhaps we finish a project and instead of being excited about it, we worry that it isn’t good enough or are already thinking about the next thing. Or maybe we look at ourselves in the mirror and focus on our flaws, instead of our good parts.
This negative thinking permeates our lives. And while we think a little bit of self criticism might be helpful, it also holds us back. Because if all we see is negative, we easily become discouraged and are rarely successful.
Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that the key to success is believing that you can. This isn’t psychobabble, just an honest truth. When you have a positive attitude, you’re far more likely to do better in your endeavors. This is why teachers are encouraged to always put positive comments on their students’ papers, even if the child has done poorly. Likewise, schools and businesses give recognition to those who have done well, because positive thinking works.
But if you’ve spend your entire lifetime thinking negatively, retraining your brain to think more positively can be a challenge.
5 Positive Mindset Tips to Radically Improve Your life
1. Hang out with positive people. If your tribe often brings you down, branch out a little bit. Begin to associate with positive people. Attitudes, both positive and negative, are contagious. While you can’t always spend the majority of your time with positive thinkers, or completely avoid the negative ones, you can try to budget your time and resources to be in more uplifting company. Remember, you become like the people you spend the most time with.
2. Surround yourself with positive words and images. Think about starting a vision board, or hanging some encouraging prints or even post it notes around the house. Do you remember the poster from years ago about the kitten hanging in a precarious position that said “Hang in there!” It might seem kind of silly but this kind of visual tool can be really effective. You can also look up quotes, people, or images that you find inspiring and post them around your home or workspace. Doing this will provide you with a constant stream of positivity throughout your day.
3. Teachable spirit. Always strive to learn something new. Keep learning and growing. Read from a variety of sources, including those who have a different perspective from you. Iron sharpens iron.
4. Write your accomplishments down. At the end of each day, write down the things you’ve accomplished that day. The little things count here. Did you have a good idea or make someone smile? Just write down anything positive that happened during the day. This will help reinforce your positive thinking and set you up for a positive mindset for tomorrow.
5. Learn lessons from your mistakes. We all screw up at times. It’s part of living. But if you’re constantly replaying the situation in your head and beating yourself up about it, take a step back. Review what happened. What can you do differently in the future?
If you take even small steps to improve your mindset, you’ll soon find success much easier to attain. And even if things don’t go the way you planned, don’t be discouraged about it. Just keep going!
Mindful living means to live in the present moment without judging yourself or others. Most of us run from from one thing to the next, are stressed out and living on autopilot and mindful living doesn’t come naturally to busy women.
Did you ever hear the expression “Keep your head where your feet are?” How often do you find yourself attending to one task while your mind is elsewhere? This might look like doing the dishes while thinking about the argument you had with your friend three weeks ago.
Continuously reliving the past makes it hard to stay in the now and will lead to you carrying around anger, resentment and other unpleasant emotions.
Accept People and Life As They Are
When we’re living on autopilot, it’s all too easy to react emotionally to difficult situations. For example, you might see a disturbing story on the news. You feel agitated and sad. But instead of reaching for something to distract yourself, you stay in the moment. You acknowledge your emotions without judgement. This one little thing frees you from losing a day of productivity because you were obsessing on this one news item.
Mindful Living Helps You To Be Grateful
During unenjoyable moments, like while you’re cleaning your home or doing tedious client work, it’s very tempting to let your mind wander. But when you’re living mindfully, you’re intentionally staying in the moment, even if that situation is uncomfortable.
If you’re in the middle of a task that you don’t find pleasant, don’t give into negative feelings or griping. Look for something to be thankful for! For example, you might say to yourself that you’re grateful you have a house to clean, or that you have enough clients to pay for your monthly bills.
Mindful Living Helps to Improve Your Mood
Mindful living is a great way to naturally improve your mood. Many times, anxiety is the result of worrying about the future and sadness comes from dwelling on the past. Mindfulness helps to improve your mood because it forces you to stop overthinking everything.
There’s nothing you can do to change your past, you have to accept what’s happened in your life and move forward in a positive direction. But if you find that you’re often haunted by people or situations from your past, it’s a good idea to speak to a trained counselor who can help you to work through things and move on.
How Can I Practice Mindful Living?
Mindful living takes some intention and effort. It doesn’t come naturally to most of us. But when we live with intention, we’re not sleepwalking through life. We’re fully present in every situation that the day presents to us.
If the concept of mindful living is challenging to you, be encouraged that you can do this. Here’s a few exercises to get you started.
Eat and Drink Slowly
What’s the first drink you reach for in the morning? Maybe it’s coffee, tea, or a refreshing smoothie. Before you take that first sip of the day, take a mindful pause. Literally, stop and smell your coffee (or tea!)
What does your drink smell like? Taste it. What is the temperature like? What flavors do you taste against your tongue? Then notice how your cup feels in your hand as you take another sip. Swallow slowly and savor your drink.
Similarly, eating mindfully means to slow down, express gratitude for the food you’re eating and paying attention to why you’re really eating. Is it because you’re actually hungry, or is it because you’re stressed out?
Go outside for a walk in nature
Notice the air temperature, the breeze on your skin and in your hear. Do you hear any birds singing? Do you know what kind of birds they are? Do you see any flowers? What thoughts are coming up now? How do they make you feel? As you walk, take some time to fully notice the environment around you.
You might want to bring a camera and a notebook. Take pictures of items that are of interest. Write down what made them stand out toyou. Is it the color or the texture that attracted your attention? Did you notice a shape or pattern? Was there a sound or smell that attracted you to this item?
Listen to music
Sit in your most comfortable chair and play some background music that relaxes you. Classical music is a good choice. You can also look for meditative music on YouTube or Spotify.
As you’re listening, focus on your breath. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. Take deep belly breaths. Allow your thoughts to come and go without trying to hold too tightly to them. Examine each thought like an observer.
Pay attention to how your body may be going into resistance, by starting to fidget or your mind beginning to wander. Return to your breath if this happens.Notice how the thoughts and experiences that come up influence how you feel.
Benefits of Mindful Coloring
Choose a coloring page that’s fun and inspires you. How do the colors you have chosen make you feel? What does it feel like when you move the pen, marker or pencil over paper? What thoughts are coming up for you? How are these thoughts affecting you? You might want to journal some of these emotions. You might want to alternate between coloring and journaling if it helps you.
It’s perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable the first few times that you try to practice being mindful. Think of mindfulness as a new habit that you’re trying to develop, and that will take some time. Keep doing exercises like the ones above regularly and you will eventually become comfortable with the concept of living mindfully.
Mindful living is one simple way to improve your life. Try to spend a week focused on mindful living and see how your thoughts and outlook change.
Coming to terms with my recent ulcerative colitis diagnosis is a constant struggle. On my best days, I feel like I can handle anything but on the worst days when I’m flaring and the symptoms are at their worst, I feel demoralized, defeated and just want to stay in bed near the bathroom.
Right now my symptoms are all over the place. I don’t have the extreme bleeding, pain and weight loss that I did a year ago but I still struggle a lot with fatigue, nausea and incontinence. I try not to worry about the big meds and the big hospitalizations, but it’s hard not to think about that possibility when I connect with the online IBD community.
I have to trust that God is in charge of the big picture and if anything major happened that my son with special needs will be cared and provided for.
When life hands me lemons, I try to remember what I can be grateful for, starting with the unconditional love and support I receive from my husband and kids. I’m also really grateful that healthy shopping options have bloomed in my area and I don’t have to drive more than ten miles to get the nutritious foods I rely on for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet such as almond flour, medjool dates, free range chicken and eggs, bananas and peanut butter. Seriously, these are my 5 major food groups many days!
Thanks to social media, I know that I’m never alone.
These recent posts on HealthCentral reminded me to never give up and never stop fighting.
Things can and do get better. I suffered for years and I never thought I would get to a point where my day-to-day life wasn’t unbearably painful. Yet here I am, in remission, thanks to my hospital and medication. Keep fighting and trying different things to improve your health, as one thing that might not work for someone else could work for you!”
“Every minute, every hour, every day that passes brings you closer to your goal. Closer to healing. Closer to living. Stay strong, fight hard, and look forward to tomorrow! Your journey starts with the first step. Be brave. Keep moving.”
— Sarah Henning, UC patient since 2007
It’s a daily battle for me to stay positive and not get bogged down with anxiety, worry and negative thinking.
One of my favorite stories that I go back to time and again is the old Cherokee story about two wolves.
One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “my son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
The grandson though about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “the one that you feed.”
“Don’t feed the bad wolf” has become an important mantra in managing my mental health. Every day I have a choice to do things that feed my spirit, to eat the right foods and guard my energy output.
One day at a time I can keep putting my best foot forward and showing up for life.
No sooner do holiday decorations get put away in January then special needs parents start to think about the long summer break and how they’re going to keep their kids busy all summer. Here in Florida the heat is stifling during the summer and since my son is heat sensitive, he has to be closely monitored outside.
For us, break starts at the beginning of June and the kids go back to school the third week of August. As a disabled mom, this presents a number of challenges since it’s hard for me to take him to places like the beach (45 miles away). Closer attractions like Busch Gardens and water parks are within driving distance but I can’t go there alone with him. And since we live in a rural subdivision, we don’t have a community pool.
Here’s a few summer activities I came up with:
Summer Activities for Kids With Special Needs
*YMCA – We can always go swimming there and our branch has some adaptive activities going on throughout the year.
*Camp – While the cost can be high, it can be made more affordable by investigating various scholarship options either from the camp itself, your local disability group or a community service organization.
*ESY – Extended School Year Services – This is no longer an option for us but since services vary from state to state (and county to county) it may be worthwhile to check out if your child qualifies.
*Movies – Our local theater offers free showings a couple of mornings a week for kids during the summer.
*The mall – Need to escape the heat? Go during the week when it’s less crowded. Grab something from Starbucks or ice cream, visit an Apple store (if you have one) or get a quick massage at Brookstone.
*Your local craft or home improvement store – Stores like Michael’s and Lowes often offer classes for kids.
*Theraputic Horseback Riding – See if any riding facilities are available in your area.
*Stay at home fun – This doesn’t have to be complicated. Let your child built a fort in the living room or lanai. Outdoor fun can be as simple as a kiddy pool, a hose or helping to wash the car. Try some new crafts that you may not have had time for during the year.
*Call a friend from school – Did your child have a buddy at school last year? They’re probably missing each other by now. Call the parents up and see if you can get together!
*Network with other families – If you don’t have a support group, consider starting a meet up with like minded families so you can get out of the house. You can set up dates for swimming and go out for ice cream or other social activities. Maybe you can even organize a much needed mom’s morning (or evening) out!
*Visit your local library – Besides books and movies, many library branches offer summer activities for kids.
*Intergenerational events – If you belong to a faith community, chances are there are some senior people who would love the chance to make a difference in the lives of our kids. Consider hosting neighborhood fellowship dinner or movie nights.
Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs
This doesn’t have to be scary or stressful. It can be as simple as “unschooling” using some of the activities I mentioned above. Pick a couple of goals to work on – maybe practice reading with flashcards or review physical, speech or fine motor goals.
Five in a Row (This is the homeschooling program I used with my older kids. You’d probably have to adapt the lessons for your child but the books selections are so wonderful that they will be a great experience for both of you.
The Importance of Self Care for Special Needs Moms
In the eternal quest to keep our kids busy and learning, it’s all to easy to run ourselves into the ground. During the school year we’re busy enough with school, appointments and extracurricular activities. It’s perfectly okay for both of you to have some down time. You need that time of restoration and rest.
Special needs parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. When you properly pace yourself you’ll be able to move through the next leg of your journey with renewed strength and vitality.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a mani/pedi or a massage (though it would be nice!) It can be as simple as some gentle exercise every day, reading a book that you haven’t had time to get to, doing something creative or starting a meditation practice.
I’ve written extensively about the importance of self care for moms.
Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. John 9:1-3 from The Message
Unfortunately some Christians think that that every illness or disability must be the result of a lack of faith or sin in a person’s life. What a discouraging burden to put on someone who’s already struggling!
We don’t become disabled because we’re being punished for something. Neither are we defective because even in our disability, we’re fearfully and wonderfully made and God has a plan and a purpose for our lives.
I don’t like living with chronic illness, pain or suffering. I’d take the healing in a minute. But I’ve come to the place that God allows suffering for His purpose. I’ve learned many life lessons as a special needs mom and as a person with a disability. It’s taught me to be patient and to persevere. It’s deepened my prayer life. And it has given me a deeper compassion for the marginalized in our society which is also the heart of God.
Being disabled with dystonia and ulcerative colitis has also forced me to accept my limits and not be so self sufficient which in all honesty, I hate. I don’t want to need anybody or ask for help, but when I became incapacitated for a time there wasn’t much choice but to learn to rest in God’s care and provision.
God can use any and every illness or disability to bring glory to His name. At times He may do that through a physical healing but sometimes He works in the situation by giving you the supernatural strength to persevere to keep on going even when you’re struggling with chronic illness or disability.
I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations…At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Excerpt from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 The Message
Living with disability is so hard. I have days where I’m functioning relatively well and other days where I’m leveled. It’s depressing and lonely at times. But God has been my strength throughout my disability journey and He has always been faithful to provide.
Speaking from my experience as a special needs mom, we’ve been blessed to meet so many amazing people who are on the journey with us and those who come along aside to minister to families like ours. My son has become my greatest spiritual teacher. Of course some days are still difficult. Having a disability like ulcerative colitis which demands that I locate a bathroom within 5 minutes of feeling the urge makes taking my son out to be very challenging, especially now that he’s an adult.
I’ll never know this side of heaven why I had to experience disability on top of the demands of being a special needs mom. I feel very helpless at times, but I know that He will be with me on the path as I continue on this journey. All I have to do is remember to abide in Him, and to continue in prayer and meditation to seek His will for my life.
God, this is hard to ask but let me rejoice in illness and in disability, even as I pray for healing and practice self care, for I know the plans You have for me are good. Use my disability to bring You glory in all I do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Many times in my life I’ve felt like I was on the sidelines watching my family go out without me because I was too sick or in two much pain to leave the house. Then stupidly checking into social media, I’d see more families having outings that were completely off limits to me. That of course made me feel even worse! I’m slowly earning that the best thing to do when I’m struggling to cope with chronic illness is to spend some time with some Bible verses before I look at social media.
I never cried out to God about it when I was feeling like this. I would just sink into myself and become depressed about it. It’s probably the worst thing I could have done! One of the hardest things that anyone can go through is a debilitating chronic illness. Many times, these illnesses are mysterious, come on suddenly and have no end in sight. While I was lucky enough to get diagnosed right away, others go from doctor to doctor for years without ever finding out what’s wrong.
It’s easier to go through a trial when you think that it will have an ending date. For example, if you’ve ever had a bad flu you know that sooner or later it’s going to pass. That hope keeps you going in spite of your current misery.
But when you live with chronic illness, you don’t have the comfort and assurance that it’s going to end, at least not on this side of heaven. Instead, you’re faced with the overwhelming prospect that you might be facing physical suffering for years, or even for the rest of your life.
And that’s just the physical and emotional side! If you’re a spiritual person, you might be wondering where God is in all of this, and if He’s abandoned you. You might think you’re being punished for something you did. You might wonder if you have enough faith to deal with all of this.
All of these reactions are completely normal. What you’re experiencing is grief. Grief is simply the pain that we encounter when we lose something. For many of us, it’s not just our lost health. It’s also feeling like you’re missing out on life. One of the challenges of living with chronic illness is staying spiritually and emotionally strong when you feel awful all of the time. You might feel like you start with an empty gas tank every day.
Some Christians believe they should put on their bootstraps and tough it out when they’re dealing with a chronic illness. This is never productive! Instead of trying to bury these feelings, take some daily time to go into God’s presence and share your emotions with Him.
One of the ways that I personally stay encouraged and keep myself from slipping into depression is by spending some intentional time reading the Bible every day. I’m currently following the She Reads Truth and Bible in One Year plans.
Is it a lot of reading? Yes, but it’s a much better use of my time than scrolling social media! Using the audio on YouVersion, with Max McLean reading the NIV version has really helped me to stay focused.
I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite Bible verses that help me cope with chronic illness as well as the depression and anxiety that go along with it.
Bible Verses for Coping With Chronic Illness
Hebrews 13:5b “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Psalms 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
Psalms 32:10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
Psalms 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Psalms 94:19 When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Psalm 50:10-11 “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”
Psalm 107:29-30 “He made the storm be still and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.”
John 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also…”
Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
The Power of Prayer
James 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.
1 Chronicles 16:11 Look to the Lord and His strength, seek His face always.
A couple of years ago I lost a dear friend and long time mentor due to a sudden heart attack at the relatively young age of 57. Carrie Fisher passed away from a heart attack in 2016 at 60. This is frightening and eye-opening for me. As a special needs mom, I want to be here for my children as long as I can. It’s really important that we all understand warning signs of a heart attack in women.
Would you know if you were having a heart attack?
As women, many of us live a daily juggling act of working, caregiving and other responsibilities, resulting in stress that can damage the heart and its blood vessels. Some women may have existing damage from years of drug use. Special needs moms might be more vulnerable to heart problems due to the ongoing stress of caregiving, advocacy and not having enough time for self care.
Chronic illness patients might be at risk due to their condition or possibly the meds that they need to take to manage their condition.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, and this blog post doesn’t constitute medical advice. This is some general information about symptoms of heart attacks in women you should be aware of, and how the symptoms in women can differ from those in men.
What are the warning signs of a heart attack in women?
Although women can present with these typical signs and symptoms of a heart attack, there is a danger of being misdiagnosed upon arriving to the emergency room. They might even be told they’re having just having an anxiety attack! This might be because women are more likely than men to have complaints of other symptoms that are not chest-pain related. Women’s heart attack symptoms are more vague, and less clear-cut.
Like men, a woman’s most common complaint that signals a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort. In women, this pain can be anywhere in the chest, not just on the left side.
Pain in the back or jaw, arms or neck. You may notice that the pain comes and goes, and varies in intensity. It may be severe enough to wake you up at night. If you are experiencing any pain from the waist up that is unusual for you, be sure to consult a physician right away.
Pain or pressure in the stomach, nausea, and/or vomiting. This kind of pain or pressure can often be confused with reflux (heartburn) and ulcers that are not relieved with antacids, so be sure to get it checked out if it is not getting better. The pressure may even feel like someone is sitting on top of you, squeezing the air out of you.
Breaking out in cold sweats. This kind of sweating is common in women experiencing heart attacks. It is not related to menopausal hot flashes, and is not exercise related.
Extreme fatigue and exhaustion. When it feels like a chore to do even the simplest of tasks, keep in mind that you could be having a heart attack. Often, it is described as a feeling of fatigue that never seems to go away.
Lightheadedness, and/or shortness of breath. You may find that you are having trouble breathing for no reason, even when just staying still or walking. You may feel like you have just exercised, and you have not. Again, seek immediate help. (You may also have asthma. I didn’t get diagnosed myself until my 50s.)
Do only older women have heart attacks?
No! Women can have heart attacks before they are forty years old, particularly those with certain risk factors including:
*Use of birth control pills in high-risk individuals
*Lack of exercise
The Importance of Self Care for Cardiovascular Health
It’s a well known fact that self care and proper stress management is essential for optimal cardiovascular health. If you’re constantly burning the candle at both ends without eating well or exercising, you are putting yourself at risk for a cardiac event. No matter how busy your lifestyle is, you can work in some intentional time for self care.
In conclusion, even if you are not experiencing chest pain, listen to your instinct. If something seems wrong, get it checked out right away. And remember that what you are experiencing could be misdiagnosed, so be sure to ask questions and be your own best advocate. Don’t be afraid to keep pushing.
I’ve been struggling with Mommy Guilt for years now. In our family, there’s always been the never ending doctor appointments for each of us, my chronic pain, fatigue and wondering if we should attempt any extracurricular activities. And on top of this, I have to make time for my own self care. It’s not an option any more. I’ve got to carve out the time for nutritious food and yoga or I’ll wind up on my back feeling like I’m of no use to any one.
Being a mom with chronic illness and pain is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to live with. The mommy guilt is never ending. It’s hard for me to watch the families around me who are able to participate or at least just get their kids to the plethora of supplemental activities in our area.
It’s harder still to watch the happy pictures on my social media feed of happy families who simply get to do life without lots of forethought. Just like I used do to before cervical dystonia entered my life as a very unwanted houseguest in 2010, and ulcerative colitis in 2018.
In our family we have been blessed that as a retiree with a pension, my husband has been able to take over much of the care for our son and get him where he needs to be. My cervical dystonia diagnosis has also meant getting off the long wait for social services in Florida to get much needed assistance, and I’m profoundly grateful for that. God has shown his provision for our family, without a doubt.
When I was homeschooling, the anxiety began as I considered the school year calendar. For awhile I needed to access the pool at my health club 2 or 3 times a week to calm my spasming muscles. I didn’t know how I was supposed to manage that at the end of the day when I was typically exhausted and out of spoons. And there were the church and small group activities…of course you have to show up to feel part of but how does that work when you’re constantly leveled with fatigue? And then there were the 12 step recovery meetings that I really needed more than anything but was unable to get to.
These days, I find a lot of recovery and chronic illness support online. I know that “in person” is always best but am not sure what the alternative is in this season of my life.
Right now I don’t know how it’s all going to come together. It is labor intensive for the rest of my family. I’m working on better time management practices and organization. I have to continually pace everything so that I don’t overtax myself. I plan around the reality that some days my IBD is going to flare or my muscles are going to be spasming so much I don’t want to get out of bed, much less leave the house.
Some Tips for Coping with Mommy Guilt and Chronic Pain
Spiritual Disciplines – My journey with chronic pain has really developed my interest in prayer, meditation and the spiritual disciplines. Years ago in recovery rooms I learned that we only have a daily reprieve from our disease based on our spiritual condition. Taking that daily time with God helps the day to flow better, and I’m learning to continuously work on practicing the presence of God and developing a habit of unceasing prayer.
Self care – As moms, we tend to put ourselves last. I did it for years. In hindsight, I think my lack of self care set the stage for my autoimmune problems. I’ve learned (a little late in life) that when chronic pain or illness is a part of our lives, we have to make that time for our own wellness a priority. Self care isn’t selfish. Simplify your life as much as you can to minimize stress. For example, use your crockpot or instant pot for an easy dinner and to save spoons at the end of the day. Have your kids help clean the house. If you need a pajama day, it’s perfectly okay. And take full advantage of the convenience of online shopping.
Find what you love and just do it – I blog because I like it. Writing is a great release for me and I’ve loved learning all the technical ins and outs of blogging. It’s empowering to know that my brain still works. I also love yoga. When I could do little else besides lay on the couch and read, yoga gave me my physical life back and something to strive for. For you it might be quilting, crocheting or gentle gardening. Whatever it is for you, it’s a great mental distraction from the dailiness of chronic pain.
Communication – Talk with your family about your condition and how it impacts you without making them feel guilty or overwhelming them. You’ll have children who are more sensitive and patient. That being said, it is hard to watch them sacrifice over and over again.
Let go of Mommy Guilt – You’re a good mom (preaching to myself here.) You are enough. Do the best you can. Embrace life’s little moments as they come to you no matter where you are. Whether you’re on the couch or out and about, your children love you no matter what and appreciate what you do for them.
How do you find balance as a mom who lives with chronic illness?