Anyone with chronic illnesses knows that their conditions are unpredictable and of course, you can't just have one chronic condition. When living the life of a chronically ill individual, it is very easy to get wrapped up in your conditions simply because they may affect you every minute of everyday. Symptoms come and go, medicines work and then stop working, treatment fails, doctor's appointments, surgeries, the isolation of not being able to go out into the community... The list goes on.
In order to deal with my chronic conditions all at once, I am forced to set some chronic conditions on "cruise control". I don't have time or energy everyday to devote to trying to remedy every symptom. In my head (and sometimes on paper), I'll arrange my conditions in a "red light, yellow light, green light" fashion.
"Red light conditions" are generally current or imminent problems. It can also refer to conditions that are completely out of control and that I have no current treatment for at this time. Conditions that are immediate life-threats are always red. I usually have a plan to see a doctor about such problems as soon as possible, as they bother me 24/7. These conditions are never truly on the "cruise control" I've described. Treatment changes frequently, fails quickly, and are usually not sustainable financially for an extended period of time.
The majority of my conditions will be "yellow light" conditions. They cause symptoms the majority of the time, may or may not be well controlled, and generally do not completely debilitate me. Don't get me wrong, they can make me miserable, but usually they are bearable. "Yellow light" conditions usually have treatments, maintenance, and preventative measures. These conditions may be on a "cruise control" but I am still forced to address the condition daily.
"Green light conditions" are conditions that are not bothering me at all (which is rare), and/or conditions that are under control as much as they possibly can be. These are the conditions on "cruise control". I just keeping doing what I need to to maintain and prevent them from becoming problems. Generally, these conditions do not bother me 24/7 and maintenance treatment may or may not be necessary depending on the condition.
Due to the unpredictable nature of chronic illnesses, a "green light" can become a "red light" and every combo in between in seconds. I've found that by looking at my conditions in this light, I acknowledge that they frequently change, vary in severity, and require consistent management to keep my body functioning as optimally as possible. This "cruise control" does not neglect the conditions, as maintenance treatment is still necessary, but it helps reduce the amount of illness related stuff I have to think about daily. While this won't work for everyone or every condition, it is a relatively simple way to refocus your attention away from illness 100% of the time and on the small joys of life. Using the "chronic illness cruise control", I am better able to enjoy and optimize my days.
I am a 20 year old junior at the college of my dreams. I am studying Emergency Medicine and Communication Rhetoric and minoring in the Administration of Justice and National Preparedness and Emergency Management certificate. At some point, I want to go and get my paramedic certification when my health allows. I have several chronic illnesses and this blog and website serves as a place for me to share my journey fighting CRPS and my other conditions. I hope that this blog can also serve as an outlet for raising awareness for rare diseases. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy! Feel free to comment; I'd love to know what you think!