hiding

Hiding

I know I have been gone for a while. About two months, actually. That’s a long time to be away from this website, you guys, and really  myself. This website and my writing is an escape from this life I no longer feel control over and without putting in the work to keep my sanity, I instead get bogged down and the depression that I fight daily takes over.

I can’t let that happen again. I can’t.

So here I am, friends. Back and ready to work on this website and therefore myself. As you can probably tell I’m not very website savvy. I use this as a medium for my thoughts and writing only and just cannot for the life of me get interested in actually creating a fully functioning website. Thankfully I have some family members who are up on this website building stuff and so I’m hoping to rope them in to helping this website become more professional and pretty looking. If you have any suggestions please feel free to write to me in the comments or personally at chronicallycourtney@gmail.com

I do also want to take a moment to share something that has been helpful for me lately. Something that I never thought I would actually enjoy and something that has helped me find some inner peace amongst the stress of spoonie life…. YOGA.
Now here’s the catch- I don’t do it really in a class or any type of instruction. I do exactly what feels right for me. I enjoy the meditation aspect of it and really value the positivity and endorphins that I get from stretching and listening to my body.

I recently received an email from my friend Sebastian who runs http://www.somuchyoga.com and they have published an article on the benefits of yoga for people struggling with arthritis (or other chronic pain illnesses). If you want to check it out (I recommend it) you can find it at Yoga for Arthritis.
It is important to check with your physician, physiotherapist or whoever is assisting with your pain management to ensure you’re practicing yoga safely. I did check with my physiotherapist and worked with her to make sure I was not doing more harm than good, and she seemed thrilled I was finding some relief from it.

It has really helped with my mood and I find my body is more relaxed almost immediately after my brief yoga time. It is definitely not a cure-all as I’m still struggling pretty hard core and cannot manage yoga daily, but I do find my little 10 minute yoga periods to be helpful! Definitely check out the website, article, and with your doctors to find out if yoga is right for you!

Aside from my yoga fun, I have gotten orthotics made for my shoes but I cannot bear to wear them often. But I know they will be helpful so I really need to put more effort in there.

I have found out that my knees and shoulders are hypermobile and my fingers are still deviating pretty badly but my splints have been so helpful! Definitely check out ring splints if you’re having issues with your fingers! They’re a life saver and super cute!

Okay I’m done hiding now.

Here I am :)

Love.

Courtney x

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Chronically Vlogging!

Oh hello there, friends!

I know it has been a while and I appreciate your patience!

As you know, the life of a chronically ill person is unpredictable and often inconvenient. Plans made around us are in faint pencil and subject to change at any second.

In exciting news, however, I have begun my journey into vlogging!

It has been a terrifying ordeal but the support I have received has been amazing and overwhelming, so thank those of you who have checked them out.

For those of you who have not and this is brand new information, here are my videos!
Please feel free to comment, like, subscribe, and/or share!

I will be adding a brand new video to this lineup today (hopefully, if the stars align! haha) so stay tuned for that!

Thank you again for your ongoing support!

Love,

Courtney

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A Letter to People who Don’t Think my Pain is Real

Good Afternoon!

As (mostly) usual, check out the Song of the Week page for an awesome recommendation from a lovely spoonie friend!

Dear Friend, Acquaintance, Family Member, Random Person Staring at me with my Walker, or any other person who judges me without knowing anything about me and/or my condition/s and therefore should have no opinion on my medical situation,

This letter is for you.

I usually try to steer clear of you, as negativity is not permitted in my bubble of self care, but alas, you continually attempt to pop my beautiful pink bubble.

I used to think it was easy to avoid you and others like you, but as my medical conditions make it more challenging to survive without the need of mobility or accessibility aids in public and my life revolves around the illnesses more than anything else, we seem to be at an impasse.

I have several chronic, autoimmue, life-altering illnesses, whether you believe they’re real or not. And they are, just to be clear, as years of research and medical documentation support their existence (and I’m not on all of these medications for nothing).  These conditions, illnesses, horrible-things-that-have-happened-to-me are in no way fake, misleading, or caused by anything I have done. I do not choose to be ill and miss out on work, bearing children, or vacations with my husband. I do not want to use a cane or walker around the house or in public (even if they are pretty cute), because in reality, it’s all a huge inconvenience. I do not want to spend hours on the phone arguing with insurance companies, employee benefits, or disability services. I don’t want to be in agony over the sound of birds chirping, motorcycles starting, or my husband trying to hug me. This is not a fun life. But it is my life.

This is my life, and it is not yours. And just because it does not make sense to you does not make it any less legitimate. These are illnesses I didn’t even know existed until they happened to me. But now that I know they do, I am a champion for these causes and for the people’s lives they’ve affected. I do not write this letter for your benefit or mine, I write it for theirs. I write this for my friends around the globe who encounter naysayers and hurtful doubters who make their already difficult lives that much harder. Nobody chooses to live in pain, but you are actively choosing to be ignorant to it.

I’ve heard you say things like “just push through it,” or “why are you in bed still?” or “if you just keep moving,” or one of my all time favourites “if you just take this one supplement your life will be completely different” which shows me just how little you know about our illnesses. And if you know that little about them, you are in no position to comment on how we survive them. If you think that one lap around the dog park is not enough to wear us out for days, you have no idea what we’re dealing with.

I’m sorry if this is coming off harsher than I had intended, but enough is enough. If you cannot stick by us, support us, encourage us, and just generally try to understand what we’re going through, then we’re going to have to cut ties here.
Speaking for myself, I cannot push through these exchanges anymore. I am begging for compassion, and if you are unable to provide that, there is nothing left to say.

Thank you, our friends and family who have shown us unending support and love. It means more to us than we can say.

Love,

Courtney

Oh just another Monday. Last week.
Oh just another Monday. Last week.
Couldn't survive without these two.
Couldn’t survive without these two.

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A Love Letter To My Illnesses

This may sound weird, shocking, even wrong. Who thanks an illness that, from the outside (and sometimes inside), appears to have ruined their life? I do.

These illnesses have changed my life but I don’t believe they’ve ruined it. And here’s why.

Dear Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Degenerative Disc Disease, and Others,

I am writing this letter to thank you for how you’ve changed my life.

Before you I was a selfish person. I went through my life with a sort of self obsessed confidence. I was carefree and eagerly focused on my career and my shopping habits. Gossiping and drama were the center of my days while I should have been aware of the real world instead of my narcissistic universe. I would get enveloped in everything that did not actually matter.

When I began feeling pain everywhere I was angry. I know this sounds like a natural response to a body that is failing an otherwise healthy 25 year old woman, but I was filled with bitterness that was unbecoming of my prior bubbly self. I pushed through, because that’s what I did back then, not knowing that I was further wrecking my already damaged spine. My broken body fueled the drama that was my work (and home) life.

After my first spine surgery I began my Tumblr blog and found my place among the Spooniverse. I had no idea this was even a thing. I had no idea that there were so many illnesses and people like me, suffering with  bodies failing young women and men around the world. It shook my egocentric self to the very core. This was so much larger than myself! Through this I realized there were people in far worse shape than I was! There were warriors fighting courageous battles with smiling faces and I was moved by their spirits.

It gave me faith that I could do that, too. I could smile through my challenges and brighten people’s lives, and open their minds and hearts. I could look outside of my own problems and dedicate my life to helping others get through their days, weeks, and months. I could support and mentor new spoonies like I was (and still am!) supported and mentored by powerful, inspirational warriors!

It was around this time when I took stock of my life. I looked around and fell even more in love with my friends and family. They stood by me through my ups and downs, my good times and bad, my selfishness and my thoughtfulness. It was their love and support that propelled me to where I am now. It was their hours spent arranging pillows and filling pill cases and attending chronic pain workshops. And if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Throughout this whole experience I have been changed. I never knew how strong I was before you took over my body and made it your own. You have affected every aspect of my life and altered my reality and future. I no longer know what tomorrow will bring, let alone the next month or year, but I know I will get through it. You may be trying to break me, but you won’t. I am loved and supported and cared for by people who I never would have met if it weren’t for you. You thought you were ruining my life but you have enriched it in ways I never could have imagined.

So, dear illnesses. You have changed me. And for that, I am entirely grateful.

Thank you,

Courtney

Also, check out the Song of the Week page for an upbeat jam!

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Starting Out Spoonie?

Tips and Tricks of the Trade From One Spoonie to Another

Good Morning(ish) to you!
As always, give the Song of the Week a look at for some spirit lifting or good time tunes.

Before I knew what the term “spoonie” meant or the significance of spoon reservation, I was a free wheelin’ fun lovin’ University student. I worked full time while studying course overload semesters and enjoyed many a fun night out with my  girlfriends. Life was my oyster, so to speak.

It all came to a halt when chronic illnesses began to take over my body. I was no longer in control and the career and future I had planned on was not possible anymore. I felt lost. I felt utterly alone and scared. I began having panic attacks for the first time at 18 and had been free of them for years until the horrifying loss of bodily control saw them raging back, more powerful than ever. After what felt like decades of suffering, thinking I was the only one in the whole world who drew the short stick in life, I began a Tumblr blog to share my thoughts with whomever would listen. Not knowing what to do with Tumblr at the time, I eagerly searched for other blogs to follow and typed in “chronic pain”. This is where I first saw the word spoonie. Immediately I recalled hearing Christine Miserandio’s The Spoon Theory years ago and before I knew it I was YouTubing it again with new, desperate eyes/ears. Tears began streaming down my face as I connected with the words that I had struggled to find for so long.

Whether or not you relate to The Spoon Theory (some people simply do not like the comparison and have found other thoughts or theories they connect with more which is absolutely wonderful!) we tend to use the #spoonie name to find one another among the different Social Media channels. After my tangle with Tumblr (where I still occasionally blog/post/creep) I became quite obsessed with Instagram, and from there I began this website! I flirt with Twitter a bit and am working on connecting with every spoonie I can find! Spoonies stick together!

So You’re a Spoonie. Now What?

Once I found this community, the whole world changed. I found people who got what I was going through! I wasn’t alone in my “poor me, my life is awful” world anymore! I met people around the world who had a variety of illnesses and who were kicking major butt! My spoonie friends are strong as hell and more supportive than I can even say.

Six Steps to Spoonie Success

Step #1 when you begin to relate as a spoonie, find your people, find your tribe! Having this support is vital. They will help you in more ways than you can imagine. They will share their own tips and tricks and encourage you on your medical, spiritual, and emotional journey!

Step #2 is to become an advocate for yourself! I am in the process now of fighting for more referrals and getting appointment dates for doctors. It is stressful and exhausting; the life of a spoonie is not a particularly fun one as there is always stress on top of stress, but know you’re not alone! Doctors don’t always know what to do with us. It is tricky and sometimes takes years to get diagnosed with any type of illness (unfortunately), but stay on top of the doctors and fight for yourself and your health!

Step #3 is to understand that not everyone will understand your illness/es and that has to be okay. Sometimes family/friends/doctors don’t want to accept what is really happening. Some physicians don’t believe in several diagnoses (even with the mountains of evidence to the contrary). At times it can feel like you’re hitting your head against a wall trying to explain what is going on in your body, but you can choose to walk away if it gets too much. Let go of the toxic relationships and focus on the ones that support you and encourage growth. You have enough on your plate, you shouldn’t have to prove how sick you are to anyone.

Step #4 may sound silly but, find a hobby. Truly. These illnesses may keep you house bound and addicted to Netflix, but you need to find joy where you can. Write, colour, scrapbook, read, do puzzles, whatever your heart desires. I tried my hand at crochet but was unsuccessful. I did Tai Chi and was not the best student. I really enjoyed my venture into sewing and would love to get back to that! Give whatever you can a go! These illnesses take up so much of your energy and mind that we need some way to express ourselves being wrapped up in the weight of our pain/exhaustion.

Step #5 Make your life as easy as possible. Change what is not good for you. I realize you don’t want to be seen with a cane, but if it does more harm than good to go without it, bedazzle a walking stick and get over it. If the stairs are making you cry in agony, make the house as accessible as you can and if that means you need to move, so be it. I’m in the process of moving to a one floor apartment now. It’s heartbreaking but necessary for my health. If you can’t bend or lift, put whatever you need within reach. These things may sound sad and just a touch pathetic, but we’re all in this together and our lives are hard enough, let’s not make it any harder for ourselves. Also, take bubble baths. Do it.

Step #6 Find some local support as well! I’ve found a Fibromyalgia Support Group in my city and attend a Pain Management Group on Thursdays. I’m also a committee member for the London chapter of The Arthritis Society. It’s great to know what is available for you in your own city/town and what supports you can access.

I hope this helps in some way! I know how intimidating and terrifying this is. It’s a whole new world but you’re not in this alone…. I can show you the world…. hahaha

Love and Spoons!

Courtney

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To the People who Don’t Know How to Respond to my Chronic Pain

Dear Friend/Acquaintance/Family Member/Colleague/Stranger in line at the mall, etc.,

Good Morning!
I hope your day thus far has been well and that both your heart and mind are open as you continue on reading this letter.

I am used to getting looked at when my husband pulls into a handicapped spot, or when I am out with my cane or walker. It is hard for people to grasp a young woman in need of mobility aids; a second glance is a relatively natural response. The questions and comments I hear vary from day to day, but the most common one is “what did you do?” somehow implying that my disability is my own error because the only reasoning they can come up with is that I fell while drunk and in heels. It’s not a ridiculous assumption as I’ve had my own fair share of liquor-induced accidents, but the shape I’m in currently is in no way my fault.

For the most part I welcome questions and inquiries. It is better that you know the truth so that the look of shock or ignorance is spared for the next person like me you come across. I am definitely not alone here and there are millions of chronic illness warriors around the world who need any bit of advocacy and awareness I can spread, and I am more than happy to do so!

Here are answers to some of your pressing concerns:
1. These illnesses are chronic which means they will last an incredibly long time, most likely the rest of our lives.

2. We have probably tried every single “miracle cure” you’re trying to sell us. Thank you for your efforts (and we may bring them up to our doctors) but we don’t need to get your hopes up, or our own. I’m glad it worked for you sisters’ husbands’ friend but that doesn’t mean it will work for me.

3. I know I am too young to have these illnesses. But nevertheless, I have them and this is the situation. Neither of us needs to lament over this fact any longer, thank you.

4. Diet and exercise are important, no doubt about it, but if I didn’t need to take handfuls of life saving medication I wouldn’t. These are prescribed for a reason.

5. What we do need, more than your stares or medical advice, is a smile and for you to maybe hold the door open for us. Simple kindness goes a very long way! :)

6. If you see me stirring around uncomfortably in a waiting room/office/movie theatre it is most likely that I’ve been in a position too long and need to move. I’m trying to be inconspicuous and I apologize if I’m in your way but the pain is usually out of control and a little re-positioning goes a long way.

7. If you see me at home (yours or mine), you may see me taking all sorts of pain medication. No, I’m not addicted, these are necessary to get me through the day. Please withhold your judgement. I’m not happy about the situation either.

8. Yes, the mobility aids are necessary. They literally aid me to be mobile. If you’d like me to move Sally the Cane or Felicia the Walker are coming with me.

9. It can be incredibly difficult to watch someone writhe in pain and it brings tears to my eyes that you have to see me like this, but it is my life. I want to spend time with you and be the old me, I want it more than anything, but the new me needs you also. When I’m in this sort of pain please just let me be and maybe offer to grab my meds/tens machine/heating pad. I know you’ll want to help more but your presence and understanding are all I require.

10. Remember I’m still me. I am still up for movies/netflix/and gossiping all night long. I can rock a movie marathon with Sour Patch Kids like nobody’s business.

Thank you so much for all you do for us. I know chronic pain and illnesses are hard to understand- I still struggle with grasping all of these straws- but your willingness to stick it out with us means the world.

Please spread this to all your friends! Understanding is key!

Love,

Courtney

©chronicallycourtney

 

 

 

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Sometimes My Sister Makes Me Cry

Good Evening (or morning, or afternoon, or whatever time it is when you’re reading this! I hope it’s a good one!),

Before I get in to why my sister is amazing and mean at the same time, be sure to check out my Song of the Week page and maybe open it in YouTube so you can have it playing while you’re reading this post 😉

My younger sister, Key, is a beautiful woman with an even more beautiful soul. Both of my sisters are such better people than I am and I try every day to take after them. Key, however, is an artist. She designed my spoon logo (I dragged her out of bed to sketch it and she had it sent to me within 20 minutes. She’s that good) and gave me this ridiculously thoughtful gift for Christmas. I’m not going to lie to you, when I first saw it I was awfully confused. (more…)

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Pretty with Pain

I was lucky enough to find, by chance, a Fibromyalgia Support Group in my local city. I went to the last meeting this past Saturday and a member of the Canadian Pain Coalition, Lynn Cooper, was there to give a presentation on her experience with pain and what the role of the CPC is.

One thing that she said that struck me was that she identifies as a Person with Pain (PWP) as opposed to a patient. I’ve always been a proponent of person first language, stemming from my work with children with disabilities (autism, mainly), and have never thought of myself as anything other than Courtney. But now, I am not just referring to myself as a Person with Pain, but Pretty with Pain. (more…)

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