Chronic Illness

And Why Flares Are A Pain In The A**

Photo by Mitchell Hollander on Unsplash

Anyone with a chronic illness will say that they live with a certain level of that illness every single day. They could live with pain, overwhelming exhaustion, brain fog, migraines, and any number of other things.

The thing is that there are times when these illnesses flare up, and these are the times when the symptoms of these illnesses seem to double, both in intensity and in frequency.

As I have said before, I suffer with TMJD (Temporo Mandibular Joint Dysfunction). Lately, I have been going through a flare. For me, this looks like:

· Extremely limited opening

· Cracking jaw

· Severe pain

· Mouth ulcers

· Migraines

· Neck Ache

· Tooth Ache

· Ear Ache

· Dizziness

· Disturbed sleep

The thing is that a lot of these symptoms sound fairly minor, and if it were one thing on its own, then it would be manageable, but when all of these things happen at the same time, it makes life pretty much unbearable.

Most of these symptoms are not necessarily visible, which can make it even more difficult, as people may tend to think that I’m overreacting, or being a drama queen, but I challenge them to live a day in my life when I’m going through a flare.

So, what is a flare?

Basically, a flare is a time when all of these symptoms are further intensified, and often occur simultaneously. This, coupled with the pressure that I often put on myself to try and push through, can leave me feeling despair. A flair means that doing ordinary activities, and basically living my life can become an almost impossible task. To put it bluntly, a flare is a big pain. We don’t want to be dealing with this, but the fact is that we are, and we have very little choice in the matter.

I know many people with other chronic conditions, for whom this is also true.

The thing is that when going through a flare, the best thing we can do for ourselves, is to try and practice self care. We need to listen to our bodies, regardless of others’ opinions that we might be ‘malingering’, ‘a drama queen’, or ‘lazy’.

If you are going through a flare, remember to try and be kind to yourself. If you need to take a duvet day, then it’s okay to do just that. If you need to just be by yourself, and sleep all day, then that’s okay too. Basically, the best thing that you can do if you’re having a flare is to listen to your body and give it what it needs.

So, be kind to yourself. Listen to your body, and give it what it needs, because, remember, no one else can do it for you and it is okay to give yourself permission to practice self care, even though the flare you’re going through might feel like a big pain in the a**!


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Li Carter is a writer, artist and crafter. She lives in South Wales, UK, with her family, and five rescue dogs. She’s on Twitter @rbcreativeli , Facebook: Rainbow Butterfly Creative, and Instagram @rainbowbutterflycreative and is the author of My Only True Friend: The Beginning. She is currently working on a new series titled The QuickSilver Chronicles. She is the original Rainbow Butterfly, and wants to fill an ever darkening world with a little bit of beauty and creativity.