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I think I’m going to start blogging again.

Posted by on Apr 10, 2019 in announcements, community collab, featured, relationships | 14 comments

For a few years now, social media has taken over. When I started ChronicBabe, Facebook didn’t exist. Neither did YouTube, or Twitter, or Pinterest, or Instagram, or Tik Tok, or… anything else. Just: Blogging. And that was pretty easy to keep up with. But as I’ve added all my social channels over the years, it is really tough to keep coming up with fresh ideas for y’all, all over the place. So I let my blog whither a bit. But: That time is over. It is now time for me to come back to blogging. I have a lot of things to say, about life with chronic illness and chronic pain; about our health care system; about how women treat each other; about how our persistent lack of self-care is damaging us. And more. Much more. So let’s talk. I am curious to know: What kinds of things do you wish ChronicBabe would offer? What kinds of things do you want to know about my life? What kinds of questions do you have if you’re newly diagnosed, or if you’re like me and you’ve been sick for more than 20 years? Fill me in. Jump in the comments below, or use this contact form to send me an email if you want to keep things confidential. I can’t wait to hear from you. I started this project with a desire to create community, and I’ve been missing that – let’s get that communal vibe going again, shall we?...

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Announcing: ChronicBabe Pen Pal Kits

Posted by on Mar 28, 2019 in featured, practicalities, relationships | 4 comments

do you miss feeling connected? sometimes i do, too. and when i do, i try to make an extra effort to reach out to people and say hello. one way i do that is by sending snail mail. it’s such a simple thing to do – write a short little note, throw in some confetti, seal it with a kiss, and toss it in the mailbox. and i LOVE getting snail mail – it’s like a little present! so i decided this week that i would help y’all become better pen pals.today, i’m announcing today the release of ChronicBabe Pen Pal Kits! i am raiding my stationery collection and creating fun little packages from my stash. each kit contains:  at least 3 note cards. these might be blank, or might have fun phrases or illustrations, like “thank you” or “you’re awesome”3 Forever Stamps, to make sure you send your snail mail. these are good for mailing within the U.S. FOREVER, but don’t wait!at least one roll of washi tape, to use to decorate your envelopesat least 20 stickers from my massive sticker collection from all over the worldtwo ChronicBabe stickerstwo You Are Beautiful stickersextra decorative paper and other goodies I find as I raid my drawers the kits are for sale in my Etsy shop, and will be available until i run out of goodies. so these won’t last forever!  international kits available for those who live outside the U.S., i offer kits that don’t include stamps, for a slightly lower price. you’ll have to get your own postage. and next week, i’ll tell you about another component of this pen pal project: a pen pal membership component, which will make us pen pals. that’s right…you and me. pen pals. writing to each other. doesn’t that sound fun?! i’m working on the details now, and will announce next week how you can get involved. here i am, dreaming about all the snail mail i’ll get to send and...

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25 Ways to Support Chronically Ill Friends During the Holidays

Posted by on Dec 19, 2018 in caregivers, ChronicBabe Basics, coping, featured, friends and family, holidays, relationships, resilience | 6 comments

It’s the winter holidays, and this time of year, many of us with chronic illness feel extra blue. We may not be able to travel because of our illnesses, or we may have less money to spend on gifts because our health expenses are high. We might feel like we can’t attend parties because there won’t be anything for us to eat or drink; we might even feel like we won’t have anything new to talk about, and that’s uncomfortable. This holiday season, I hope you’ll give an extra thought to your friend who’s ill. To make it easier, I’ve come up with a long list of ways you can show you care. This is great for those of us sick chicks to share with each other (we’ve got to support one another!) and it’s a great list to share with our loved ones, who might want to support us but don’t know how. Your chronically ill friend needs you! And loved ones need to learn how to support sick folks, too. Share this list with folks you love, okay babe? And have the happiest holiday season possible. Text your sick friend to say hello, or I love you, or how’s your day going – something simple.Offer to do a quick grocery store run for your friend, even it’s just to pick up a few essentials.If you can’t run an errand for your friend in person, use a service like Postmates to deliver food,  groceries, or sundries. Set a date with your chronically ill friend to watch a movie together. If you can’t do it in person, schedule a date when both of you can stream the movie at the same time, and hop on the phone to watch and giggle together.Make a recurring calendar reminder every three days to check in with your friend. The holiday season can get hectic and you might forget, but your friend needs you.Offer to drive your friend to some errands they need to run, especially shopping, going to the post office, or even doctor visits. That way you can catch up and make something otherwise mundane more fun.Buy your friend a month of membership in the ChronicBabe Academy, so they can make more friends with chronic illness–and learn how to empower themselves.Call your friend on the holiday and tell them you love them – people so rarely make phone calls now, they’ve become a real treat!Collect your sick friends’ addresses using a program like Postable and then send them a postcard to arrive during the holidays.Bake something you know your friend will love, keeping in mind their dietary preferences or limitations – ask first!If you don’t bake, ask around for a recommendation for...

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How to talk to people about being in a huge flare-up

Posted by on Apr 18, 2018 in acceptance, ChronicBabe Basics, coping, featured, friends and family, relationships, resilience | 2 comments

It’s not easy to talk to folks about being in a flare-up: being in constant pain, experiencing unyielding fatigue, spending hours on the toilet every day, having daily anxiety attacks. That’s been my life since mid-January, and it’s only just now starting to ease up. So I’ve had a good bit of practice when it comes to talking to people about being in a mysterious months-long flare-up. What’s a flare-up like for me? A fibromyalgia flare-up for me has all of the above symptoms and more. Sometimes my skin itches all over; sometimes I get rashes. A couple months ago, all of my teeth hurt. I sometimes have a ringing in my ears and a feeling of vertigo. Some days, I have ALL of these, all at once. I’m a regular party over here, right?! It’s hard to remain upbeat As you move through life in flare-up mode, it can be hard to keep your mood positive, even for part of the day. Those of us who’ve been sick a long time may know how to muscle through some of it, and not really show how bad we’re feeling, because we have kids, or work, or commitments that can’t be ignored. So we’re often quietly suffering and not speaking about it. (Those who know us very well might still recognize the struggle in our faces.) Talking endlessly about how bad we feel is NOT a good way to boost our mood. While it can feel good sometimes to vent to a friend or your therapist, doing it many times, day after day, is not something I recommend. You’ll get tired of hearing yourself complain, and by repeating the mantra of suffering over and over, you’re drilling in the message that you’re nothing but the suffering. After some time, it can begin to feel like you’ll never come out of it—and once you hit that stage, it is indeed hard to climb out of the hole emotionally. So I recommend that you choose a couple people close to you to confide in, and then pledge to yourself that you will try not to focus on repeating your list of ailments day in and day out. Fill in that space with reminders to yourself of the things that ARE going right. With the people you feel comfortable talking to about all the details, go ahead and vent—but also do two things for yourself and for them. First, put some kind of time constraint on the venting. You get to do it once a day, for example, or a single venting conversation can’t be longer than 15 minutes long. It’s healthy to get things off your chest, but not healthy to wallow…get...

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A little story about the value of long-term health care provider relationships

Posted by on Feb 14, 2018 in caregivers, coping, featured, health care providers, relationships | 10 comments

Hi! It’s been a little while since I posted on my blog; the winter holidays kept me busy, I’ve traveled a lot since then, and I’m coping with a handful of acute health issues…it all sapped my blogging mojo! But I’m slowly easing back into it. Today, I’m thinking about how valuable it is to have kick-ass health care provider relationships. I want to talk about why it’s important, and how you can cultivate your own. A handful of symptoms means a handful of health care providers 18. That’s the number of health care appointments I’ve had so far this year. 18! The high number reflects a variety of things: an injury that’s required a few follow-ups and special procedures; maintenance appointments like a mammogram; check-ins with my pain psychologist; a trip to a compounding pharmacy; and physical therapy appointments to try to turn around my flare-up. It’s been overwhelming, and it’s SO HARD to get any work done when I’m constantly running around! Not to mention the hospital parking fees I’ve racked up. Harrumph. It’s enough to make a babe grumpy. Across those 18 appointments, I’ve seen 10 different health care providers. Some were brand-new to me, and WOW is it exhausting to have to explain your whole history to a new person. Especially when you’re asking them to diagnose a tricky issue. (Like one thing I’ve had for the past week: extreme sensitivity in all of my teeth. Weird!) But some of those health care providers have known me as long as 25 years. It’s those appointments that really help keep me sane during this crazy-making time. Long-term relationships matter I’ve talked before about ways to strengthen your relationships with doctors and other health care providers. I’m sure you can guess some of the reasons, but let’s review: You don’t have to re-tell your whole medical history at each visit They can spot patterns in your symptoms you may not see You cultivate a sense of trust…in each other Your medical records are all in one place (or at least focused in a couple places) When you’re a little late, or they need to reschedule, it’s easier to manage and you can cut each other a little slack You feel more comforted and safe with them These are just a few of the reasons why long-term health care provider relationships are so important. Here’s a quick story about another reason why: My pain is unexplainable and scary, but my HCPs help I mentioned that all of my teeth have been hurting. For a few days, I tried to be patient and hope it would improve, but I finally gave in on Sunday and went to immediate care....

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5 strategies for facing the upcoming holidays with chronic illness

Posted by on Nov 9, 2017 in ChronicBabe Basics, coping, holidays, relationships | 7 comments

I used to really dread making it through the winter holidays with chronic illness. And I do mean “making it through”—that was the best I could hope for, never mind actually enjoying them! It felt like I had to claw my way through them.   All the ways the holidays can go poorly While it felt like everyone else breezed from party to party, I agonized about how to manage my limited diet when facing big, luscious buffets packed with things I knew would not feel good in my body. I watched in envy as friends wore cute, sparkly heels, while I crammed my pained feet into clunky boots that could accommodate the wool socks my Raynaud’s phenomenon-having tootsies demand. And I never felt like I had the energy I wanted as I socialized, and when I did, I would sometimes find myself without a lot to talk about. When you’ve gone through an extended period of illness, or fatigue, or depression, it can be hard to make witty small talk. And when it came to gift-giving, I frequently felt stressed out by planning, shopping, and wrapping. But mostly shopping: The malls! The driving! The carrying heavy bags! All while wearing a heavy Chicago coat in Chicago winters! I would count every penny and have to take deep breaths as I processed each purchase. Family was sometimes tough, too. While some family members are cool, some really don’t accept my health-related limitations, and that leads to a lot of awkward conversations and situations. It wasn’t all bad… I mean, I’ve also had some pretty great holidays. Decorating the trees, visiting my nieces, drinking hot cocoa by a toasty fire, sledding, goofing with friends. But let’s be real: The holiday season brings a lot of pressure. It’s hard not to succumb to the pressure to be everybody’s everything. We sometimes feel like our illness should take a vacation so we can meet the expectations of others. But that’s not how bodies work, babe. I know you know that, but the holiday season is going to try to make you feel otherwise. So let’s talk through a few changes I’ve made during recent years that have ensured my holiday season is much more enjoyable. These definitely have not removed all the stress, but they’ve minimized it, for sure. And it gets easier every year.   5 Strategies for making the most of the holidays with chronic illness: Stop sending holiday cards. Seriously, they cost a bunch of money, and most people barely glance at them. You spend hours shopping for them or designing them; you spend much moolah on printing or purchasing them, plus all that postage. And you wear yourself out putting together the mailings....

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WE’RE NOT DOCS!

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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