The 30 Day Chronic Illness Challenge gives you one brand new writing prompt each day.  All of the topics focus on chronic illness and/or living with a chronic illness.  It was created by @cfs_zombie, and I learned about it through Tumblr.  There are only a couple of days left to go!

Day 27: What’s the most helpful advice you have had?

Stop eating the foods you are allergic to.

That may sound like a “no brainer”.  Of course, you shouldn’t eat the foods that will give you an allergic reaction.  That should be simple, right?

Logically, yes, I should avoid all foods I’m allergic to.  Realistically, there have been times when having  just a little bit more ice cream sounded tempting.

Years went by in which I suspected I was gluten-intolerant.  (I had been diagnosed as allergic to wheat, rye, and barley).  I keep eating foods with gluten anyway, and being in denial of my allergic reactions to it. Why?  It’s really hard to give up all breads, cookies, cereals, pizza dough, pretzels, and all the yummy things that have been battered in wheat and then deep fried.  I wasn’t ready to deal with the loss of an entire food group on top of all of my other food allergies.

It doesn’t take long to learn that if I ate something that tasted good (and contained an allergen) I would be sick later on.  The only way to avoid the allergic reaction is to make sure I don’t eat the foods I’m allergic to.  There are gluten-free (and dairy-free) alternatives to “regular” foods now, which makes things a bit easier.

Get health insurance coverage.

I have borderline anemia, tons of severe allergies, and what is very likely rheumatoid arthritis.  Is anyone surprised that I end up needing medical attention more frequently than do people who don’t have any chronic illnesses?  All those doctor visits and prescriptions for medication add up.

There were many years when I couldn’t afford to buy health insurance (and didn’t work at a job that offered it). What happened? I couldn’t afford to see a doctor, even when I had a sinus infection.  I walked around contagious for a much longer span of time than I should have.  I went years without being able to afford an Epi-Pen or an inhaler.

Having good, affordable, health insurance coverage makes a huge difference in my life.  Thanks to “Obamacare”, my health insurance company can’t drop me because I have chronic illnesses.  They also can’t put a dollar limit on the amount of care they pay for (not in a year, and not in a lifetime).  Health insurance coverage is the difference between “well” and “risking death”.  It is the difference between “the doctor will see you” and “the bank is foreclosing”.

Pick three tasks.

There are many days when I have a very limited amount of energy.  Sometimes, I can predict them based upon how sick I currently am, or upon how many allergens I got exposed to recently. Then, there are days when I unpredictably wake up exhausted and don’t have the energy to take a shower.

How can I get anything done?  The method that works for me is to pick three tasks.  What are the three most important things that I need to get done tomorrow?  I make a list and leave it on my desktop for when I wake up the next day.

Sometimes, the list says: “Grocery shopping, writing (specific thing) for work, writing (other specific thing) for work”.  Other days it says “Take a shower, eat something, go to my acupuncture appointment”.  It all depends.

I always have more to do than just three things, but I’ve learned that I can typically get three things done.  If not, then I push one to the next day.  If I’m having a good day, with more energy than expected, then I add a couple of things to the list for that day.  This helps keep me from freaking out about all the things I need to do when I truly don’t have the energy for them.  I focus on three things.  The rest can wait.

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