Thinking Outside the (Chronic Illness) Box

Confession: I still really enjoy Blurred Lines. You don’t need to tell me the million reasons I shouldn’t — I know what they are and that’s apparently not going to stop me dancing along to it. (Let’s agree to call it an informed choice and move on.)

Ok, now we’ve got that out in the open, I have another confession. In the last few months, I went through a whole stack of paper plates — in my own aparment. I’m sure I’m not the first person to take “shortcuts” in everyday life when the going gets tough. (I’m looking at you, ridiculous weakness and fatigue.) As recently as six months ago, if you’d asked if I saw paper plates in my future because of the weight of actual plates, I would have scoffed. I might have sworn at you in my head.

On Valentine’s day, my partner emerged from the supermarket with artificial flowers (scent sensitivity is the best) and…some lighter plates. I may still need him to go back for melamine because, shocker, the “light” plates he picked up are still proving a bit challenging on bad days/evenings.

Out of necessity, the last several months have earned me a treasure trove of tricks to ah, lighten the load, so to speak. Paper plates, for a little while at least, were worth the environmental trade-off because they made things a lot easier for me. (They could also get tossed in the trash rather than the sink, saving my partner the washing up.) Plastic utensils, right now, mean I can use my energy making myself something to eat rather than cleaning knives and forks when we’ve run out. A handy laptop stand ($20, IKEA*) means I can do things from bed if something (usually a wayward scent) knocks me on my ass.

Most of my tricks, though, just have to do with modifying the way I do things: pouring water into the coffee maker one cup at a time (ditto for filling pots for pasta), filling a blender cup with frozen fruit before bed in case I can’t do it in the morning, and taking wayyyyy more baths are just a few of my favourite ways to cut down exertion.

Sometimes I still need to ask for help, even with my little tricks, because I can get the pasta water in there one cup at a time, but it sure isn’t coming out that way. Asking for help isn’t something that comes naturally to me, even after several months of doing a lot of it, but it’s getting easier. Eventually it might even be easy, full stop — but I’m not there yet.

If nothing else, being chronically ill has helped me be creative when the need arises. Last weekend, I rolled around my apartment in my office chair making dinner because I couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes. It made me cry because this was a new “low” for me, but then it made me laugh because it was probably funny. And isn’t laughing the only thing to do, sometimes?

What are some ways you’ve found to keep doing things you love/need to do while being chronically ill? Leave your tips, tricks and stories in the comments section below 🙂

*IKEA did NOT pay me or give me stuff or anything of the  sort in exchange for mentioning them in my post. That laptop stand has just been the best and most chronically-useful $20 I’ve spent in a long time.

2 Comment

  1. Adaptation is key. Sometimes it makes me feel sort of pathetic while other times I feel genius. Regardless it is always necessary. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Before I got a wheelchair covered by insurance, I’d roll around my apartment in my office chair…sometimes it made me cry, but there was also a lot of laughing at how pathetic it was 😀 I recently came across the term “health-depreciating humour” and had a chuckle!

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