It has been a year and a half since I got diagnosed as an autoimmune patient. During this time, I’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs, physically and emotionally, as I expected to do so coming back to “normal life” after being sick. I am lucky to be surrounded by family and friends that have been the most supportive. I am lucky to have been supplied all the help–doctors, medication, books, guidance, you name it. Everything I need to get better, I got. And the fact that things seem to have gone back to normal for me is something I am forever grateful for. God has truly been the greatest guide and teacher, and it is through Him and what He has provided for me that I am where I am today.
It’s really so great to be back working, back to working out, back to going out with friends and being able to travel. Life has been feeling more normal than ever, and I was so happy to be part of normal. But the hard part about being normal again is that the expectation of you for yourself is really, to be fully normal, too. You want to do things the way other people are doing things. You want to achieve things the way others are. You want this and that and all of a sudden you’re ungrateful again–ungrateful because you realize that you can’t be fully normal, and that you aren’t. On some days you sort of “get away with it” and you’re able to keep up, but other days remind you that you need to slow down because you can’t afford to do those things the way you use to. It frustrates me, and it has been for a while now. It all comes back to me on days that I can’t do something because I’m extra tired, have a headache, or feel some sort of pressure in my head or my neck. And then after a few days of ups and downs, I’m thankful again. I realize that I’m being nailed back to the ground, to refocus all my efforts, to not get drowned in again, to find more purpose for those around me, and not for me, and to stray away from the noise that social media sucks out of me.
For fellow autoimmune friends (or even non-immunocompromised friends!) who might be wondering how life is now, i’d like to share a bit of an update of how things have been lately. I’m lucky to be where I am, and I can only think of sharing as a way to say thank you to the universe and God, and to help whoever might need this.
- Managing stress is so crucial now if I want to keep working. Luckily my company has helped me adjust from part-time work to full-time, so that allowed me to get back to work sooner. I learned that if I let everything get to me, I won’t last. If I don’t take decent breaks in between, I won’t last. If I don’t have a stop button, I won’t last. It’s crazy how stress can take over, sometimes we just don’t feel it because we’re running on adrenalin, but know that stress is a huge cause of a lot of illnesses.
- It was hard not to get intimidated to go back to working out. Aside from that, I wasn’t sure how to go back to it without injuring myself, so I worked with Coach Jaako, a certified strength and conditioning coach who really helped me with my overall fitness. Trainings with him weren’t only about being able to workout, lift, and look muscular. He really took note of my overall disposition, my stats which we took monthly on the Tanita scale (BMI, fat, muscle, weight, etc). He’s not a doctor or nutritionist, but it helped a lot that he was familiar with proper lifestyle habits, particularly the importance of getting enough sleep and eating well, so he’d regularly check on this and even send articles to help me improve my lifestyle. With my condition, this is really what I needed to help get me back to working out.
- It’s been about a year and a half since I started avoiding gluten, dairy, shellfish, junk, or anything processed, and it has helped a lot! I cheat sometimes, but not without consequences. After devouring something i’m not suppose to, the effects are evident, and I remember again why I avoided them in the first place.
- I’ve gotten used to eating in restaurants and talking to the waiters about ingredients. Most of the time I can work around a restaurant menu by removing some sauces/ingredients or having them replace a certain ingredient. The most challenging cuisine to do this with so far is Italian because it’s heavy on gluten and cheese.
- Baon (packed food) or eating before leaving the house is key.
- Sleep is still strict–8 hours is a must. As much as possible, I sleep before 11, and I save the late nights for special occasions, like weddings.
- Rest is not lying down scrolling through social media. True rest for me is reading a book, listening to music or a podcast, meditating, tending to my plants, taking a walk, or praying.
Now that everyone’s home, I’m happy to see that a lot of people have had more time to start working out, try juicing, try yoga, eat healthier, and make some lifestyle shifts. It’s a difficult thing to do, especially if there’s no concrete reason for you to hold back on that Mcdonald’s trip or bag of chips. It’s hard work, and is also expensive. But I promise it’s an investment, and the best gift you can ever give yourself and the people that love you.