How to be sick: Faking inner sparkle, inner ok-ness, and Planning ahead.

One of the ridiculous things about getting seriously sick when managing your health is already a long-term project is how humiliating it is. Something that’s out of your control somehow feels like a personal failure. How could I let this happen?

On top of which, the main font from which I usually use to get self-esteem – work – wasn’t possible. I wasn’t coherent enough to read all those worthy books I’d been meaning to catch up on.

I felt valueless. A burden. Someone who lets other people down and disrupts plans.  e.g

  1. I couldn’t attend my father in law’s birthday.
  2. My husband cut his weekend trip short (this is when we thought it was a bad cold) to come back.
  3. I couldn’t make a client video call meeting and delivered maybe under half of what I thought I could in the timeframe.

And I sure as hell didn’t look cute.

All I could do is watch Netflix and browse Pinterest and Amazon for shiny things.

In this post, I’ll talk about three things:

1. How to Fake Inner Sparkle

For seeing Doctors

For seeing doctors, I’d recommend just an all in one bb -cream/tinted moisturiser and a clean look. This tinted spf 50 is what got me looking a little less pale than I should have looked while protecting my sun sensitive skin from Madrid summer sun when going from one ER unit (general) to another (I needed a hospital with an Ophthalmologist at one point)

Benefit cha-cha tint helped me fake some kind of non-deathly pallor over the last two weeks. (but I really wished I had a bronzer as well)

While Too Faced liquid lipstick in “It’s happening” made me feel a lot brighter and cheery while distracting from the fact I couldn’t wear eye makeup and my eyes were bloodshot. 

For when you’re recovering

I told you I spent most of the last two weeks browsing the net, too zonked to even read, right? This was from of the vanity portion of that browsing.
This holographic lipgloss

This pink ombre wig

 and this pastel and silver wig

both inspired by Ariana Grande’s lavender look.

What I actually bought, however, was this silver ombre glory.

I also found this video on how to make lace front wigs look more natural

2. Inner ok-ness

Listing out all the things I’m grateful for is something I try and do every morning, but is even more important when I’m feeling bad.

Having food in the fridge

A fan in the bedroom

A hospital so close by I could walk there

Having access to both public and private healthcare

Already having a neti pot and humidifier – both recommended by dr.

The fact that my neti pot is plastic because I’ve dropped it multiple times and it would have been on the “meaning to replace” list had it been ceramic.

Having Netflix

Having enough Spanish to deal with the doctors

That duolingo is free

How lovely hospital staff are.

Having prescription sunglasses (I can’t wear contacts for a few weeks and this climate demands sunnies)

Getting sent photos of epic sandwiches – it’s the small things that distract you that count so much.

Epilating. I may meet my maker but it won’t be as a wolf-woman.

ALL the things my hubs did for me. From cutting his trip short, to bringing me sandwiches in the ER waiting room, to watching Pixar films with me.

There’s also the extremely helpful book called “how to be sick” that has helped me so much over the years. It’s a Buddhist approach to chronic illness.

3. Planning ahead

There was a fair amount of planning ahead that helped me through these last few weeks.

  1. Having emergency, allergy-friendly canned food in the cupboards for situations like this. Ready to be opened and microwaved.
  2. Having a “sick day” bag: a little toiletry bag with various painkillers, paracetamol, antihistamines, and allergy friendly cold and flu meds. All within easy reach in the bedside drawer.
  3. Frozen food and frozen homemade meals. I use a 6 litre slow cooker even though it’s just the hubs and me because it allows us to freeze surplus portions and keep them for days when doing groceries or cooking – or both – aren’t possible. I also buy bags of various frozen veggies.
  4. Marie kondo-ing my all-black wardrobe made getting dressed and looking respectable -aka worth taking seriously- easy even when somewhat delirious.
  5. Having GTD in place for domestic and other things means I didn’t have to get stressed about what I needed to keep on top of. It was all externalised, ready for me when my strength and brainpower was back. Deadlines were firmly in my calendar so I didn’t miss my tax return deadlines.
  6. I have workflows set up for multi-step processes, so things like taxes can be done on autopilot even when near enough brain dead. This was so helpful last week.  I can usually get my quarterlies done in less than an hour this way, although, with brain fog, it took a little longer. I also have documented workflows set up for my birdcare in case I need someone to do those for me.
  7. Batch cooking: making a whole roast chicken when I sensed I was going to be down over the coming days and the hubs was travelling was a good call. I was bored after a few days, but I was fed.
  8. My pink planner with upgraded rings that functioned – besides its usual GTD role – as a:  symptom journal, meds tracker, and historical medical files binder when moving between hospitals in a country without a centralised data centre for health files.

IMG_2503.jpg  I won’t lie: I felt pretty stupid with the amount of cute rainbow shit in it while flipping through various admin staff, nurses and dr’s, but no one could say I wasn’t the most organised and well-prepped patient: handing out relevant past medical tests to the ER dr to help him interpret my xrays that day with more context.

I will scan all my notes digitally into mac Notes app, because I realise having had my original xray scans would have been the most useful thing on the day I had my xray. It’s just, I’m not sure how I would be able to give those files to a dr from on my phone. Paper works really well as it seems they often like to spread all the sheets out and get an overview while looking at the latest results. Having to flick between screens isn’t as helpful. But I do always have my phone with me.

My best advice if you’re managing chronic health issues is: always plan ahead:

  • What kinds of symptoms are most likely to need treatment if you wake up sick or having a bad health day? Can you make up a grab-bag for that?
  • Are there places other than near the bed that are likely to benefit from an emergency pack? Workplace? The car? I have a smaller bag for travels as well.
  • What systems of self-care tend to break down when you’re sick? How can you prep in advance for those?
  • What kind of info do you need to be handed over to someone else who might want to help you/ take care of pets/domestic things?
    • Emergency shopping lists
    • prescriptions to fulfil and locations to get them (if relevant)
    • Household or pet-related tasks that need doing a certain way. These can be pre-written down in a list template or bunched together in a planner for handing over. Many to-do apps allow you to add photos as well if the steps need explaining in more detail and send the list to a third party.
  • What kind of info does a medical person need to know to make sense if you’re admitted in the ER? Can you put that in a place you’ll remember to reference and have on you when you’re not so with it?
  • Perhaps create an online grocery shopping in a store that delivers at home for essentials to get through the week. That way, at the first sign of illness, you can place an order quickly.
  • Dehydration makes everything worse. Make up a 1litre jug with 6 level teaspoons of sugar and half a level teaspoon on non-iodized salt before going to bed, especially if there’s a fever, and extra especially if it’s summer.
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