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Art and Poop: Why Chronic Pain Patients Need to Talk About the Icky Stuff

Posted by on Aug 28, 2018 in activism, Creativity, featured, pain, sponsored | 6 comments

Salix Pharmaceuticals provided me with a stipend and paid for my travel and accommodations related to the event. However, all opinions are my own. Most people I meet hate talking about poop, but I don’t mind. Poop is one aspect of life we all have to deal with, and I’ve recently learned it is an important topic for those of us with chronic pain. So, I’ve never shied away from talking about it or any of the other “icky” topics. When Salix Pharmaceuticals asked me to participate in a blogger event, I was wary at first—I so rarely do projects with pharma—but when they explained that it was a unique art event designed around learning about “Painstipation” (the constipation caused by opioid pain medication in chronic pain patients), and that they were presenting findings from a survey on opioid induced constipation (OIC) sponsored by Salix in partnership with U.S. Pain Foundation, I just had to say yes. I mean, art and poop talk – this was going to be interesting. I knew a good bit about OIC before the event, because I have chronic pain and have taken opioids in the past—and because I’ve heard about OIC as a volunteer and creative partner with U.S. Pain Foundation since 2010. So many people in the chronic pain community rely on opioids to help manage their pain. This means many of them also have to deal with OIC. A bunch of feisty bloggers Salix invited me and three other bloggers out to California to attend an educational, creative event about “Painstipation.” Leslie Vandever is a blogger I’ve known for ages; she has rheumatoid arthritis, and she writes at Rheumablog, among other venues. She has openly shared that she relies on opioids to manage her chronic pain so she can continue to work and advocate for the chronic pain community. Brittney Wilson, BSN, RN, also joined us; she’s been blogging for years as The Nerdy Nurse, and has a reputation as a popular health care blogger. Charis Hill was the other blogger with us, and although I had not seen her blog at Being Charis, we clicked right away—she’s a firecracker. (In her blog, you’ll learn that she lives with ankylosing spondylitis.) For a moment, I wondered if Salix understood that they had a room full of feisty advocates on their hands? None of us are quiet bloggers—we’re all fighting the good fight for better health care for all. Once I recognized the potential for all of us to get creative together using art, I really appreciated the thought that had gone into the event. The research: opioid-induced constipation and chronic pain Before we made art, we talked about the survey. Salix, in...

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It’s time to make ourselves BIG in the face of illness, even while the world wants us to be small…

Posted by on Aug 15, 2018 in activism, featured, Kick-Ass Sick Chick, resilience | 21 comments

Last week, I had the honor of speaking at an event organized by Katy Brennan for Suffering the Silence, where a bunch of women stood in a room together and talked about how they’re living incredible lives even though they have chronic illness and disability. To be among women like me—to hear their stories, hopes, dreams—was profoundly moving. When called to speak, I changed course from reading from my book to instead read something I wrote more recently. It’s about the importance of making ourselves BIG instead of being forced to be small. Here’s my quick piece. I hope you like it! If it resonates at all, please join the conversation in the comments and share your perspective. Thanks! It’s time to make ourselves BIG as a child… and as a young woman, and – heck – even today – my parents emphasized the importance of not making trouble. of not getting in anyone’s face. of not being too “different”. and WOW, society sure has reinforced to me that i need to stay small. don’t ruffle any feathers. don’t make anyone uncomfortable. don’t be too needy. don’t be too noisy. don’t be too weird. to be a “good” girl. to stay in line. to respect elders. to respect men. to respect doctors. to respect everyone else but myself. so i learned to make myself small. and that has done me an enormous disservice when it comes to my health. here is a brief list of the ways in which i’ve made myself small when it comes to my health: i’ve said yes to medications i was scared of, without asking questions about side effects. i’ve held my questions when a doctor tells me they’re sorry, but they’re in a hurry to see the next patient. i’ve hidden how much i was hurting from friends, family – even my health care providers – because i didn’t want to seem too “needy.” once, in agonizing pain, i waited an hour to leave the house for the emergency room because my ex-husband didn’t want to miss an episode of the tv show ally mcbeal, but he also didn’t want me to go to the E.R. alone. i thought it wasn’t a big deal. it was: i had a ruptured ovarian cyst and the physicians were shocked i was even able to walk myself into the E.R. i’ve changed clothes before a doctor visit because i want to look “nice enough,” like i’m taking care of myself. but i have to be careful to not look “too nice,” like i’m not sick enough to warrant care. and i’ve stayed with doctors years longer than i should have because i thought they would be disappointed...

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Please take a moment to endorse me in the WEGO Health Awards

Posted by on Jul 24, 2018 in activism, awards, featured | 0 comments

Hi! I’m doing something I don’t usually do today, and that is beg for you to tell other people you like me. The WEGO Health Awards are happening again (I’ve won a few in previous awards) and this year, I’m up for three awards. I can’t get to the finalist category without your help. Please read on for information about how to endorse me so I can move into the finalist category. One of the best ways for me to spread the word about my work is to win awards; they put me in front of huge new audiences, and that means I can help many more people. It feels weird to ask for your help, but I do need it; in the WEGO Health Awards, finalists are chosen mostly by how many endorsements they get. And we are many, babes! So we should be able to rustle up a bunch of endorsements. Head to my personal WEGO Health Awards page now and click “Endorse Jenni Grover” to submit your endorsement. While I would love for you to endorse me in all three categories, if you only pick one, go for the Lifetime Achievement Award. I mean, I’ve been blogging for 13 years, which basically makes me a dinosaur, so I feel like it’s an appropriate award for me.  It will also be a huge help to me if you share a plea with the folks you care about, asking them to endorse my work. I know it’s a lot to ask of you, but if you love what I do, or if you’ve benefitted from ChronicBabe in any way, would you consider asking your friends and family to take a moment to endorse me? How can I thank you? By continuing to do this work, which I plan to do. Thank you!...

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How to respond when someone says “this is what you have to look forward to when you’re old”

Posted by on Aug 30, 2017 in activism, ChronicBabe Basics, featured, relationships | 18 comments

Yesterday, I was relaxing in the hot tub at my gym. I had just completed an hour of strenuous water movement class, and my body was like WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME…so the hot tub was an essential relaxing moment. The usual gang of fellow classmates was there—women, like me, who take the class because it’s accessible despite physical limitations. What you need to know is, everyone else in the hot tub was a solid 20 years older than me. And that’s all good. We’re all in it together. (I mean, literally in it!) But yesterday, a woman I’ve never spoken with before turned away from a group conversation about chronic pain and illness and said to me: “This is what you have to look forward to when you’re old.” Sigh. I hate these conversations. I’m not sure what the goal is of someone who says that. Are they trying to freak me out about my future? Sorry, babe, I’m not that easily scared. Are they feeling awkward because they’re leaving me out of a group conversation, and somehow trying to explain why? But in a backhanded way? I don’t know. I can’t understand the benefit of ever saying that phrase to someone. I know I look younger than I am; no one ever guesses I’m in my mid-40s. And I’m the young one in the class usually, so I stick out. But still: There’s no need to single me out. An awkward conversation Anyway, I took a breath and started my usual spiel: “Actually, I’ve had chronic pain and illness since I was 25, so your conversation is familiar to me. No need to explain.” Her: “But you’re so young! You were diagnosed when you were 25? Oh, that’s so horrible! I’m so sorry.” Me: “Thanks, but no need for sorries. I’ve worked it out and actually made a life for myself in spite of it, and I’m proud of my work.” I described ChronicBabe, which she seemed to find fascinating: Her: “Oh, you’ve really made lemonade out of lemons! Good for you! But I’m so sorry.” Me: “Really, no sorries necessary. By the way, what’s your name?” We introduced ourselves, and then I said: “Of course, you can always just call me ChronicBabe if you forget my name.” Her: “Oh, no, I could never.” She looked down. She got uncomfortable. She started to climb out of the hot tub.  Me: “Okay, nice talking to you. Have a great day!” Her: Grumble grumble awkwardly departs. Is it generational? Sigh. I think maybe it is; I talked to my physical therapist about it today, and she reminded me that people a couple decades older than me were raised to...

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Watch Out, Diabetes – Don’t Stand In My Way

Posted by on Aug 26, 2016 in activism, career, coping, featured, guest author, inspiration, resilience | 0 comments

This week’s guest post is written by ChronicBabe Christel. Christel is a blogger, certified personal trainer, bikini fitness competitor and fitness model. She has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1997, and at an early stage decided that that wasn’t going to slow her down. On TheFitBlog.com she writes about Health, Fitness and how to be Fit With Diabetes. She trains people with diabetes from across the globe, online and in person, and supports them in meeting their fitness goals.     I’m probably one of the most stubborn people you will ever come across. …Or you could call it focused or determined. Yes, that sounds better. My husband says I am like one of those huge tankers that needs a lot of time (or an iceberg) to change course. ☺ I have managed to make my stubbornness work to my advantage though (for the most part) and I truly believe there is hardly anything I can’t do if I set my mind to it. I’ve managed to get my MBA, travelled the world, had a successful corporate career, started my own business and, lately, competed in (and won) a fitness competition.     It all starts with your mindset So what does all that determination have to do with my diabetes? Well, it made me decide right away that my 1997 Type 1 diabetes diagnosis would never prevent me from doing and accomplishing everything I wanted in life. Honestly, I never thought twice about that first injection or about arranging my life so that the diabetes didn’t interfere with the things I want to do. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy to manage the diabetes monster, but I would claim that it’s doable if you set your mind to it, take the time to understand your unique reaction to different stimuli, and structure your life so that the diabetes doesn’t run the show but is instead in the background. I know that I am lucky to “only” have diabetes, and none of the other “friends” it can bring along. Additional physical or emotional burdens will of course change the situation and how hard it is to figure out your diabetes management.     How fitness took my diabetes management to the next level   My adventure into fitness and making that my career has actually been what has taken my diabetes management to the next level. I spent a lot of time tuning in, listening to my body, experimenting, and analyzing the outcomes (and a lot of blood glucose testing). To me, that’s the key to learning; experiments and analysis. I’ve found that my body’s reaction to stimuli differs as I get older, but the patterns are...

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Be Nice (in Conversations About Chronic Pain and Illness) #AWAPwednesday

Posted by on May 18, 2016 in activism, announcements, ChronicBabe Basics, featured, ranting, relationships | 18 comments

Last week, some folks decided to jump into a ChronicBabe Facebook conversation and be disrespectful to others. It sucked. The conversation was originally about a handful of stories about chronic illness and how relatable they are. Then one person declared that one of the women profiled was using an incorrect diagnosis, and that it was “pseudoscience.” I stepped in to stop the thread, asking folks to back off and be respectful. They didn’t; in fact, they stepped up their efforts. It was very upsetting for many people, and I eventually deleted the whole post to shut down the conversation. I hated doing this! The ChronicBabe community is built on a solid foundation of mutual respect and support, so it’s awful when some folks can’t see that. I understand that they were well-meaning, but no matter their intentions, they were being rude and disrespectful. So today’s video is a handful of thoughts I have about this event, and a reassurance that I will always protect ChronicBabe and keep it positively awesome. Even if the tone of the nation’s conversation about chronic pain and illness is trending negative, we don’t have to follow suit. I’m so eager to hear what you think! Watch today’s video, and then chime in below. *AWAP = As Well As Possible Now it’s your turn: Have you faced bullying or negative feedback online? How did you react? Were you able to steer the conversation toward a more productive outcome? I would love to know! Share your experience in the comments below. Want more #AWAPwednesday? Check out our #AWAPwednesday video playlist, which has more than 100 videos packed with practical advice, lots of humor, and bloopers. Lots of bloopers. Is there a question I can answer for YOU? Add it to the comments below, or shoot me an email. Until we meet again: Be AWAP!...

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Info posted here should not be considered medical advice; it's not intended to replace consultation with physicians or other health care providers. 

Every Babe needs to find her own path for achieving optimal wellness. While we do tons to help guide you, it’s up to each of you to make well-informed choices and live with the consequences. ChronicBabe.com assumes no liability or responsibility for stuff that goes wrong.

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Take what you like from this space, and leave the rest. Use what you learn to make your life better. Be responsible for your own choices. And please don’t sue us. XO!

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