So now that I have been a part of the exciting world of chronic illness, I’ve picked up a few tricks a long the way to cope. Here are the top twenty:

1. Don’t ignore symptoms
2. Find medical professionals who understand your disease and who don’t blow off your long list of odd symptoms
3. Do research on treatment options and understand the cost benefit of treatment vs. the “wait and see approach”
4. Eat a healthy diet – limit/eliminate processed foods, sugars, carbs and caffeine, eat plenty of fresh veggies and fruits…drink a lot of water
5. Avoid the hottest part of the day and the most direct sunlight
6. Ask for help when you need it – we all need it sometimes
7. Find others like you to talk to about how it feels to live with this disease
8. Don’t dwell
9. Exercise – but not overly so or it has the opposite effect
10. Manage pain issues as they arise
11. Vent once and awhile but then let it go
12. Reduce stress – also easier said than done in some situations but trying is a must
13. Find ways to laugh…a lot
14. Try to find “normal” as much as possible and accept that “normal” has changed
15. Don’t be defined by the disease
16. Be patient with the ignorant – takes too much energy to get mad and most people who have not been sick will not understand your struggles. If they want to feel sorry for you let them. If they don’t want to believe you let them. If they say stupid things educate them.
17. Try to look good – yes that’s right…I said it…helps with the normal part….
18. Don’t isolate
19. Accept the ups and downs and fight through the down times knowing they will not last forever…keep living
20. Get enough rest