Life always have some ups and down. They are for short interval and some don’t leave you until you die. What if these downs in your life include suffering from chronic disease. Nearly 1 in 2 adults, live with at least one chronic illness.
Still, there are many people who live their life strongly. They live their life with cheers; not by just cursing their fate.
One such person, I met online is Megan Schartner (@MegLiveKen). From childhood, she have had Asthma and allergies causing eczema and low energy levels. In April 2013, she was suddenly struck down with chronic pain (ME/CFS & Fibromyalgia) and extreme exhaustion.
I’m really thankful to Megan Schartner for sharing her story about her illness and disease. Hope this might inspire lot many people affected with chronic illness. Here’s a glimpse of the email interview:
Who are You & Where are You From?
My name is Megan Schartner. I’m from South Australia.
How Long Have You Been Struggling with ME/CFS & Fibromyalgia Syndrome?
Ever since childhood, I’ve had Asthma and had difficulty with allergies causing eczema and low energy levels. These conditions were a nuisance but didn’t interfere with having a life. In April 2013, I was suddenly struck down with chronic pain and extreme exhaustion. After several months of appointments with multiple GPs and specialists I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Pelvic Congestion Syndrome. I have been dealing with the symptoms of these conditions ever since.
How You Noticed the Symptoms & Signs?
I have always known about the asthma and eczema (they weren’t hard to miss) but the new conditions began to show themselves with sudden and extreme pelvic pain that lasted months, accompanied by extreme fatigue and soon after chronic pain all over my body. I also felt extremely foggy and struggled to remember simple words and activities I used to do with ease.
What Made You so Strong?
Having always lived with adversity and illness, I believe my strength comes from having learnt to accept and accommodate what is happening to me at any given time with a positive mindset. My family and friends are extremely supportive and provide a great network for me when I am struggling. There is always someone, I can talk to about anything. Having this network and the new network, I’ve formed through blogging has allowed me to believe that I am capable of anything as long as I have some support.
What Kind of Treatments Have You Followed (Any Mobility Aids, Strategies or Exercise)?
I have tried many different types of medications to help with the symptoms; however none have really had any significant affect. The tools I’ve found most effective are pacing myself and listening to my body. If I listen and recognise when symptoms are increasing I’m able to stop what I’m doing and rest to keep them at a manageable level. The best advice I’ve had is to try and rest before you need to, this is something I’m trying to work on at the moment.
Physical Friday – Daily Activities
How Living with This Disease has Helped to Improve Your Life?
Having been forced to stop working for the moment I’ve had a lot of time to focus on what is important to me and to identify the activities, I need to participate in to feel happy and useful. These conditions have forced me to slow down and this has allowed me to become more grateful of the little things in life, like having my cats come and cuddle up to me. I have recently written a post on my blog that outlined the top 5 things I’ve learnt since living with chronic illness. In this post I listed learning that everyone’s experiences are different, I’m stronger than I thought, family and community are the most important thing, it’s important to have something you’re passionate about, and that being ill opens up new and exciting opportunities.
Since being ill, I have had the opportunity to write, illustrate (currently doing) and (in the future) publish a picture book (Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang) that will help others explain their invisible symptoms to themselves and those around them. This has been an amazing experience and I believe it will lead to new and exciting opportunities as I begin to explore how to expand on the book. Keep your eye on my blog for more information about this as I’m about to share my dreams and ideas with the world.
Who Supported You During Your Illness?
My husband and both our extended families have been a great support in taking care of me when I was in the acute stage of these illnesses. Over the last few months, I’ve finally stabilised to the point where I can do all my basic self-care activities myself so the need to rely on others has diminished slightly. I’ve also found great support through the network of other chronically ill people I have met online since starting my blog last October. Their insight and knowledge of what it’s like to live with these conditions allows them to understand me in ways that my family and friends aren’t really able to do. Combined these two support networks have allowed me to remain positive 99% of the time since becoming ill.
Any Message You Would Like to Share with Other Sufferers?
Remember that everyone’s experience is different and that even if you can’t see anything wrong with a person they may be suffering. Use your experiences to help others if you can by sharing them in writing, but don’t assume that because something worked for you it will work for everyone else. No matter what is happening in your life, try to focus on the good and keep a positive mind set. By believing in yourself and not focusing on the negatives you increase your chance of reaching your goals, whatever they may be.
I am still working through recovery (if recovery is even possible). Keeping a positive mind set my thought is not to recover, but to find a way to adapt and live a fulfilling, sustainable life with my chronic illnesses. Most, if not all of them, are for life so I need to learn how to live with them.
Remain positive and keep an open mind and an open heart as you go through your journey. There will be days (or even weeks, months or years) where things feel desperate but focus on being grateful for whatever small good things happen around you during those times.