Being a mom with a chronic illness is hard but it’s possible to thrive. I’m sharing my story of what it’s really like living with a chronic illness.
It’s been two years now since I was diagnosed with my chronic illness. Life since then has been full of ups and downs. I had a baby that I was told I would never be able to have, I’ve made some lifestyle changes, and I’ve learned to make the best out of every good day that I have. I do have a chronic illness and struggle sometimes with everyday things. Here’s my story.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just come back from a press trip in San Diego and going to the doctor for a regular physical. My visit with the doctor went well then I was sent to do blood work. That’s when everything changed in what seemed like an instant. Just a few weeks after my annual physical, I sought to see a specialist and diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease and Chronic Kidney Disease. I advocated for myself until I found a specialist that was right for me. My world was shattered or so I thought. I knew nothing about this illness at all. I had no idea how to manage it or what my life would look like with this new diagnosis.
Being a mom with a chronic illness is tough if I’m being honest. It’s like an added weight that you carry around with you. A lot of guilt comes with being a mom with a chronic illness and it takes time to adjust to that. My illness is what some people would say is an “invisible illness”. Physically on the outside, you can’t see anything wrong with me. I look like a mom who’s healthy but in reality my kidneys are failing every second of every day. Some days my body hurts so bad that it’s hard to get out of bed let alone tend to two kids. There are a lot of secondary conditions that come along with chronic polycystic kidney disease, like high blood pressure, and on some days every single one of them work together against me to keep me still.
But when I have good days, they are so good. They’re the days that I want to remember forever. My body feels good, everyone is smiling, and we’re making memories together as a family. Making the adjustment to accept the bad days but not let them defeat me was hard and still something I struggle with from time to time because honestly some days it’s easier to just throw in the towel and do nothing. Not letting my body succumb to the pain on those bad days is one of the keys to thriving. If I start giving in on those bad days then I’ll have more and more. I always remind myself that it’s okay to have bad days and that’s just my body cueing me to rest.
After living with this chronic illness, I’m still learning but with every day that passes I’m learning how to thrive even more.
Tips for Thriving as a Mom With a Chronic Illness
Ask for help
I have a really hard time asking for help. I love doing things myself. Independence is a strength of mine but realizing that I don’t have to do everything on my own was a game changer. Let your family and friends know how you’re feeling and that sometimes you might need help. Accepting help doesn’t mean that you’re weak or defeated, it means that you’re smart enough to realize that you don’t have to do it all.
Take care of your body
Your body is a temple and if you want it to last a long time then you have to take care of it. I’ve always been a lover of junk food but after I was diagnosed I had to make some major changes to my diet. Cutting back on processed food and incorporating more fruits and vegetables was a must. Drinking lots of water can help you to stay hydrated as well.
Find the right balance of vitamins and medications
If you’re taking medications for your chronic illness it’s important to find the right medications and doses. This was a challenge for me but eventually we were able to find the right combination that worked for me.
Voice how you’re really feeling as a mom with a chronic illness
Letting people know when I have bad days is hard for me. I’m used to pushing through however I’m feeling and getting things done. As a mom that’s what we tend to do but not being vocal about how you’re feeling isn’t helping anyone. On the days where my body hurts or I just don’t have the energy, I have to tell my family. On those days my family knows that I’m not 100% and they’ll need to step up. I’m not sure the kids go any easier on me but it’s still something I vocalize.