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Friendship, romantic, work - relationships take lots of time and energy. We gather real Babe perspectives and expert opinions to help you build and maintain great, supportive relationships.
It's been a week of highs and lows for Editrix Jenni, who's in New Orleans helping her family welcome a new baby. She shares some perspective on the value of family in the life of a ChronicBabe.
Posted: 10/9/2012 in Relationships
Wow, I am LOVING putting together these videos! Each time I publish a new one, a reader responds with a comment about how much it changed her perspective. I'm thrilled to be getting in closer contact with so many of you. I hope you enjoy this new episode, in which I answer a viewer's question about getting the help she needs from her husband. It's chock-full of tips that you can start using today!
Bonus: You get to see my lakeside views, which are pretty stunning. And there's a blooper reel.
Posted: 7/3/2012 in Relationships
Last week, our video focused on disclosure in a new relationship. This week's question is all about how to build communication with partners and friends so you can get what you need - and be a good partner, yourself! Check out our episode 3 and let me know what you think.
Editrix Jenni got screamed at for using an accessible door by someone in a wheelchair. She reacted strongly. Was she right? How do we deal with scenarios like this? Chime in!
I've written before about the "team" concept of living with chronic illness. (It's one of the first articles I published here, nearly seven years ago!) The concept is as awesome as ever: Life with chronic illness is hard, but surrounding yourself with supportive people makes it easier. Here, I celebrate the folks I love—and hopefully give you some ideas for Team YOU!
Posted: 2/10/2012 in Relationships
Q: My best friend is having a holiday party and I would really like to go. On the other hand, I am kind of dreading it. All those people dressed up to the nines, carefree, without any problems in their lives. My daily pain, food allergies, broken-down feet... all make a simple party rather dreary. I always feel like I need to explain why I am not very social. My friend says just to come and not worry about it, but I am not sure. Should I go?
Lisa offers perspectives on handling parties during the holidays and beyond.
Posted: 12/20/2011 in Relationships
I recently asked one of my readers, “What’s the biggest struggle you face with being married and having a chronic illness?” Her response surprised me: Chronic illness is like a mistress in a marriage.
Guest blogger Heather Grace writes about challenges to relationships when one person is ill. She cites numerous resources and gives us the chance to think about what we can do to nurture relationships in need. This is a must-read!
Guest blogger Sophie Lee shares a short story about how sharing her experience with IBS inspires people to help her...and how great that feels. You'll be happy to hear how awesome people can be!
"I really admire the way you manage everything so well."
I've heard that kind of thing so many times over the years. Ok, I admit that it's usually coming from my mother, but I do hear it (maybe a bit toned down) coming from others, too. It's an awkward thing. I appreciate that they are aware, to some extent, of what I'm dealing with, but they make these comments like I'm some sort of superhero. While I'd love to be able to fly, and invisibility would be great, I definitely don't want superhero status just because I make it through each day with a bunch of illnesses.
A few months ago, I wrote about big changes happening in my life. I was obtuse for a reason; I wanted to send a message to the universe, and to you—dear fellow ChronicBabes—that big things were happening in Jenni-land. But I wasn't ready to talk specifics. And it wasn't completely my story to tell, anyway.
But it's time that I filled you in, because big change has happened, and it's had a huge impact on me. I want to share what's been going on, how it's affected me (and ChronicBabe), and what's going to happen moving forward. And I want to share some of the things I've learned from the experience.
I'm super lucky to say I have a best friend. She's been my pal most of the time that I've had my chronic illnesses, and she's been a big part of the creation and evolution of this site and the whole ChronicBabe project. I couldn't be a ChronicBabe without her! Her name is Natalie, and I don't know what I would do without her.
Posted: 6/27/2011 in Relationships
It's 15 days into the WEGO Health (they're @wegohealth on Twitter) Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (HAWMC)*, in which they offer a blog prompt per day for a month, and our assignment seems simple: write a two-sentence story, with a beginning, middle and end. Hmm. I'm a writer, so how hard could this be?
Posted: 4/15/2011 in Relationships
It's day 7 of the WEGO Health (they're @wegohealth on Twitter) Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (HAWMC)*, in which they offer a blog prompt per day for a month, and organizers have asked us bloggers to leave our condition a text or voice mail message.
And wow, did I ever. I just broke up with fibroymalgia.
Posted: 4/7/2011 in Relationships
I've been thinking about gratitude a lot lately. Life has thrown me a few curve balls in the past few months, and I've been leaning extra-hard on friends and family for support. I thank them all the time, with words and hugs, with babysitting or a round of cocktails, but sometimes it feels like that's not enough. So in keeping with our upcoming blog carnival about thankfulness, I thought it's right to pause and acknowledge some folks for their awesomeness—here, where everyone can see just what their righteous behavior means.
Posted: 4/2/2011 in Relationships
Doctor Rob wrote such a fantastic article today we asked if we could reprint it. Here's a hint:
"Dear Patients: You have it very hard, much harder than most people understand. Having sat for 16 years listening to the stories, seeing the tiredness in your eyes, hearing you try to describe the indescribable, I have come to understand that I too can’t understand what your lives are like.
"But I do bring something to the table that you may not know. I do have information that you can’t really understand because of your unique perspective, your battered world. There is something that you need to understand that, while it won’t undo your pain, make your fatigue go away, or lift your emotions, it will help you."
...curious? read on!
Posted: 7/15/2010 in Relationships
I can't even come close to listing my entire team. It would take me days. But I hope my very incomplete list helps you imagine who could be on your team. Because here's the deal: Life's better with a team. You learn more, you have more fun, you get to share more incredible moments, you get more gifts, you learn to give more and be a better friend...the benefits are innumerable. I encourage you to make a list and keep adding to it, changing it, remembering to recognize the people on it whenever possible, and always give as good as you get!
I've never been all that great at setting boundaries. Until recently, that is—I've spent some time over the past couple years learning what boundaries are and how to use them effectively. And my recent wrist injury offered some reminders that boundaries are flexible and ever-changing. So why are boundaries important for ChronicBabes, you ask? Because as sick chicks, we're working with already-reduced resources—so we've got to protect what we DO have. Read on for some examples of boundaries in action and tips to help you strengthen your own.
What happens when a ChronicBabe—a gal who's accustomed to spending energy on herself whenever possible—needs to become a caregiver? What happens when a Babe has constructed a life that's all about taking care of herself, and suddenly she's taking care of someone else?
Being on the other side of caregiving helps us ChronicBabes learn what our own caregivers might go through. It's not about guilt—feeling bad about being sick, or feeling like a burden—it's about accepting the situation you're in and doing your best to make it easier if possible, whether you're the ChronicBabe, or the person who cares for the ChronicBabe.
Several years ago, when I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both hips, I read everything I could find about coping with chronic illness. I was amazed at how often I'd stumble on a paragraph that advised patients to "look for the gift in your pain."
Pain is a gift? Thanks, but no thanks, I'd mutter to myself. I had just turned 44 and hadn't planned on slowing down so soon. I still had miles to go with my journalism career and a family that included a very active teenager. If pain was my gift, well, where was the return policy?
The old adage is true: There is nothing permanent except change. That saying applies to the inevitable shifts in our relationships with others. One of the things that seems desperately unfair to those of us who live with a chronic illness and ongoing symptoms is the impact it can have on friendships or romantic relationships. Many people have difficulty not only maintaining established friendships, but making new friends because their illness keeps them from being continually active and socially involved. Author Carol Sveilich offers advice on maintaining good personal and professional relationships even in the face of ongoing illness or pain.
One of the things that seems desperately unfair to those of us who live with a chronic illness and ongoing symptoms is the impact it can have on friendships or romantic relationships. Many people have difficulty not only maintaining established friendships, but making new friends because their illness keeps them from being continually active and socially involved. Author Carol Sveilich offers advice on maintaining good personal and professional relationships even in the face of ongoing illness or pain.
In our last Goodie Bag, we asked Babes: Have you been surprised by love? Many women with chronic illness or disabilities think they're not going to find love - or even have some great sex - because of their health limitations. Bogus! Here are just two examples of responses we received. Hopefully, they'll inspire you to open your mind to the possibilities.
"How does pain affect your independence? Do you push yourself too hard? Do you hide the fact that you're in pain? Is it hard to ask for help?"
Posted: 7/3/2007 in Relationships
Sometimes the oddest little thing can make us happy. This is a short story about strange noises and how they brought me and my hubbie Steve closer.
Posted: 4/15/2007 in Relationships
Natural medicine is experiencing a renaissance in North America. We know that eating the right foods and taking the right supplements can help us to avoid or minimize some of our most common ailments. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to separate fads and "miracle cures" from time-honored remedies. So who do we turn to? One option is to find a health-care professional who is trained in the art and science of natural medicine: a naturopathic doctor (ND).
Posted: 1/17/2007 in Relationships
You wouldn't hire someone to work for you based solely on a recommendation, would you? Hopefully, you'd interview the candidate with your expectations and needs in mind. So, why isn't this true for an even more important decision – hiring your health care team?
Posted: 12/23/2006 in Relationships
Deep down, I just wanted to say "Suck it up!" to the woman in the chair next to me at the doctor's office who complained of pollen allergies, to the acquaintance at work who went on and on about how stressful her life was, or to the person who treated a mild case of strep throat as the end of the world. But to say such things would make me my own worst nightmare, a martyr for my illnesses. That kind of response would erect a wall between anyone who couldn't compete with my illnesses and myself. It would also mean I was acting with the very same lack of empathy I find so frustrating in other people.
Posted: 8/21/2006 in Relationships
Babe Laurie shows us how she overcame guilt and re-learned how to have a social life she could love: I was on the phone with my best friend a few months ago when she said something that really hit me: "I shouldn't feel guilty for the things I can't control, only the things I can." It sounded so simple, so logical. And of course it was much easier said than done.
When I was 24, I met my future husband John and my ideal doctor within a few months of each other. As anyone with chronic illness understands, I consider the latter just as much a feat as the former. Turns out, the world of dating and the world of doctors have a lot more in common than I√¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢d considered. After all, who else has such access to the most intimate physical details of our lives?
Posted: 2/25/2006 in Relationships
Say, I don't suppose there might be some way I could get a ride from you? I mean, if it's not too out of your way or anything, feel free to say no..." I hear my voice rise an octave, and there is something unflatteringly girlish about it. Despite my attempt to sound casual, I know I sound needy.
For each of us, the decision regarding whether to tell our whole story -- or certain parts of it -- is one we make every day. For this ChronicBabe, a move to a new city meant learning all over again how to introduce herself. Like many women, her technique evolved over time, and yours will too. Here's one perspective on small-talk disclosure.
Posted: 7/25/2005 in Relationships
Someone I'm very close to (let's call her Betty) recently said some things that really hurt me to the core, particularly regarding how I handle my Chronic. After many, many years of putting up with Betty's not-so-subtle digs, I decided that it's time for some distance. It's a tough decision, but one I had to make in order to take good care of myself.
Like J. Lo, I couldn't function without a fleet of people keeping me fabulous, aka Team Jenni. These are the folks in my life who help me be my best. When I'm feeling great, when I'm feeling crap, and everything in between, I've got Team Jenni.
Articles that use Relationships as a secondary category:
A quick update: You are awesome. Do not feel guilty about being sick. I've got some tips that should help you feel awesome in spite of illness. Now, that was simple, wasn't it?
While I was talking in hushed tones with my Mum about how beautifully dressed some of the girls were, it turned out some of those beautifully dressed girls were talking in hushed tones about me too. Carly Findlay talks about life with a skin condition and why people should keep their comments to themselves. (This is one of Editrix Jenni's fave articles in a long time!)
Can I be completely honest with you? I can? Good.
I wish you could make my pain go away.
There's no way to get through all this without an awesome support team. That's why this issue, we've gathered a bunch of ChronicBabes to share their thoughts on folks who we love and love us back. We let you in on our medical teams and talk about the people who come together and touch our lives.
Even though I've been thinking about writing this post for a few weeks now, I can't keep the blush from creeping up my face. But I'm a twenty something, engaged woman, for crying out loud. There is a sexual element to my relationship. There is also a diabetes element to my sex. Here's how I handle my "equipment" in my relationship.
I've written about this before. There's a very simple question people should ask before they touch you in any way: "May I touch you?" It's that easy. In my case, the answer usually is no. (Of course, we make allowances for family and love interests and such.) Unfortunately, some people just don't get it. And for those of us who seem to have a "please, go ahead and grope me awkwardly" sign on our backs, I'm offering another reminder of how to respond when unwanted touch happens.
The canceled plans, dirty kitchens and general grumpiness that go along with having headaches, whether episodic or chronic, puts strain on even the best of relationships. With all my experience, you'd think I'd have some suggestions for dealing with this, but my brilliant strategy is to feel guilty. Not too productive, I know. But my friends and family accept me for what I can give now - which may be different than I gave three years ago or will give two months from now. That's the beauty of love.
For a brief time, I completely forgot that as a patient, I have the right to say "No."
When we wrote recently about talking to naysayers, we had no idea how strongly it would impact our readers. We were flooded with e-mails! Clearly, learning how to respond to negative people is a hot issue for ChronicBabes. We've gathered a collection of responses, to give you some ideas to use in your own life. You may not agree with everyone's perspective but they are worth considering.
What happens when you encounter a naysayer, someone who doubts the validity of who you are or what you do - or even asks why you can't just "fix" your illness and "get on with your life"? Do you take their opinions personally and argue your point, or do you give them up as a lost cause? Editrix Jenni Prokopy encountered a serious naysayer this weekend and decided she needs a new plan for dealing with negative folks.
Babe Isobel thought her new medication would be treating a problem. She had no idea it would also create a new one. Here's the story of what happened, and what she learned about medications and sexuality.
Babe Iris is wired with a Holter monitor - a portable electrocardiogram (ECG) machine - and to get completely accurate results, the 24-hour test should include, shall we say, exercise. It's time to call the boyfriend and see just how nimble he can be. What happens when intimacy includes wires and cables and batteries, oh my? Iris gives us the inside scoop.
Yup. He said, in regard to my pain, "get over it." Let's call this person Fred. Fred has never been all that understanding of my chronic pain issues. Oh, it's not that he can't relate -- he has chronic issues of his own, plenty. He just takes a wildly divergent approach to managing them. Fred's always tried his best to offer sage advice, and I know that he believes he's comforting me when he says certain things. But so often, he misses the mark. I've tried for years to make him understand how it makes me feel, tried to explain my situation to him in a way that would provide a new perspective. I want Fred to get it. I want him to know that I'm no wimp, that I'm not lazy -- that I am doing everything I can do to take care of myself in a healthy, balanced way. All my other pals seem to get it, but not Fred.
It's that time again: The Holiday Season, when you're supposed to feel joyous, thankful and happy to celebrate with family and friends. It's a lovely idea. But people who work and live with chronic illness more often than not approach this time with mixed feelings, if not dread. Here are some tips for thriving this holiday season.
The answer today is: no, you may not. But unfortunately, you probably won't bother asking anyway. Sounds like a bad date, right? Wrong. This is a regular occurence for me. People touch me. People I don't know at all, and people I've known forever. In public places, in private gatherings. They just feel the need to touch me without provocation. If they would just ask that simple question, so many negative experiences could be averted.
The Babe gives advice on supporting a friend with MS.