Dealing With Chronic Illness Overseas

Hi again, can you believe it’s already almost December?!? Where has the time gone? Pretty soon we’ll be welcoming 2017 if you can believe it. It’s funny sometimes how when you are not concerned with time but instead you just stay busy that’s when it flies by. But if you are overly concerned with how long something will take then it seems to take forever! If you’ve been following our journey here on our blog you may remember that we first moved to the south of Spain in January of this year. Now that we think about it January seems like a long and distant memory even though in reality it’s not that far back. When we moved here from Bilbao we were anxious to get into a routine and to adapt to our new surroundings. But time and time again, if you focus on why your moving and try to stay busy things seem to fall in place just right. We’re so grateful that we’ve been able to stay here for almost a year now! We’ve met wonderful people, have a great congregation and have seen some really cool things. That’s all fine and good but you may be saying to yourself that this post is called ‘Dealing with Chronic Illness Overseas’ and all I’m talking about is how time passes by quickly. Well your right, the two subjects aren’t related that much. But in another way they are. You see one of the reasons that we moved in the first place to the south of Spain, among others, was to experience a better climate for health reasons. 

 

Even though Bilbao was great and we loved it the weather there is terrible. Even though we thought we were “tough” enough to handle it in the end it just wasn’t reasonable for us to put up with it since it was affecting us health-wise. So we decided to look for another area where we could be of use. That was a great decision and we’ve seen many blessings as a result of it. So now that we’re here in the sunny south does that mean that all of our health problems have miraculously vanished? Well, we wish but no that is not the case. In general we like to keep this blog and the content on it encouraging and helpful. Also as you likely have noticed we’ve been shifting the tone to be more along the lines of helping with employment and job ideas especially online for those that are looking to move abroad for one reason or another. Also I (Antoine) am mainly the one behind the writing of the blog posts whereas Kanicia helps with editing and content ideas, etc. That being said I thought it would be nice to write a post sharing some of our experiences here in Spain dealing with illness and how we cope. Being in another country is great and all but there are times that you can get down or not feel well just like anywhere. So I’m going to mention the top three things that we’ve found to be helpful when dealing with illness while living in Spain. Obviously this information could be useful wherever you live. We know that many of you are dealing with your own health battles. Many times they are unknown to those around you or even to your close friends. But that doesn’t mean that they are any less real or that they don’t effect your life everyday. Why did I include the word chronic illness in the post title? What does that word mean? The dictionary defines chronic illness this way: persisting for a long time or constantly recurring. So basically a chronic illness is being sick for a long time or on a regular basis. This would usually be an illness that would stay with you for life or that doesn’t really have a cure. Instead the person would have to try to manage the illness in different ways.

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Being Realistic & Modest

First of all your probably asking yourself what chronic illness we suffer from. Well thankfully for myself I can say that I don’t really suffer from any chronic illnesses. I do get fatigued easily if I do a lot of things but I can generally manage this. But my wife Kanicia suffers from migraine headaches. They are something that she’s had since she was a little girl and they can be quite debilitating at their worst. I’m sure that you may have a friend or a relative who gets migraines or you might just think that they are the same as headaches. Their not. Migraines can knock someone out for days at a time and make it extremely difficult to work, be productive or do anything normal. They can be triggered by many things such as weather, diet, stress, etc. I must say that as the husband of a migrainer I’ve learned more about this illness over the past seven years than I ever thought I would. Since there really is no cure for migraines we are constantly making adjustments and tweaks in order to see what works best. So that brings me to my first tip on dealing with migraines or other chronic illnesses. Be realistic and modest. What does that mean? Well, over time we’ve learned this lesson and believe me it’s not an easy one to learn. Us like many people have a tendency to think that they can do it all. Or we may think think that we should just push ourselves and maybe not listen to our body in order to get something done that we need to do. I know that Kanicia has dealt with this question many, many times. While it is tempting to ignore what your body is telling you often if she does that she pays for it over the next few days. So one thing that we’ve learned is to be reasonable and to not try to do the impossible even if this is something that someone else would be able to do with ease. They have different circumstances which is why we try to focus on our circumstances and limitations. Another way that we try to be modest is that we don’t try to take on too many things because we know that it may not be the best for us in the end. This helps us to stay balanced and to enjoy the things that we are able to do.

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Having a Routine & a Balanced Diet

Throughout our time in Spain we’ve learned a lot about ourselves. One of those things that we’ve learned is that we do best with a routine and a balanced diet. Now this may not sound like anything earth-shattering but the real trick is in actually pulling off. So what do we mean when we talk about a routine? Generally for us this means waking up and going to bed at the same time each day. It also mean exercising regularly around the same time. Also it includes taking a siesta at the same time and for the same length each day (you didn’t think I would forget that one, this is Spain after all!). How has this helped us to deal with getting sick or chronic illness. It helps immensely because when your body knows what to expect it is easier for it to plan and it is not suddenly surprised by some radical change in your schedule. This creates stability and helps you to manage illness better and also not to get sick as much. Now this is much easier said than done! Sometimes we get on great streaks where we are following our routine and things work out great. Once we start to slip we usually can see the negative results immediately.

 

The other area that we’ve found helpful is to have a balanced diet. We’ve been told for years that we should be eating well. It really does help! Thankfully we tried to pay attention to our diet before coming to Spain so this carried over once we got here. Although it’s funny to mention that before we came to Spain we were vegetarians. Once we arrived to the land of the jamon (pork) that didn’t last very long. haha. I think chorizo is considered a vegetable here. Regardless of whether you eat meat or not likely what is a balanced diet will depend a lot on you and how your body reacts to different food. We are always changing up our diet because we know that it greatly impacts the way we feel and our energy levels. This helps us take our health into our hands instead of just going to the doctor and asking for a pill of who knows what. The challenging part of the diet is sticking to it when eating out. Many places don’t accommodate a lot of the things that we prefer so often we end up compromising. We try to counter this by eating at home more often which enables us to control what we eat. When we eat in a balanced way that our bodies respond well to we feel great and generally we aren’t sick as much.

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Keep a Positive Attitude

This last point is very important. It is so easy to forget about the things that are going right when we don’t feel well or when a spouse or family member doesn’t feel well. Taking a few moments to focus on the positive things in our life will improve our mood and balance us out so that we don’t see only the negatives. Also when there are setbacks (and there will be) it pays to focus on how far you’ve come in dealing with a particular illness or improving your health. This will remind you that you are making progress and you will keep fighting. This is also something that your friends who may be sick would appreciate. Instead of only viewing their illness try seeing the whole person. It’s very likely that they don’t always like talking about being sick or having people asking if they ‘feel better today’ but instead they want to move on and focus on the positive things in their life.

 

Final Thoughts

We hope that this post has helped you to learn some ways to deal with (chronic) illness while abroad or in your home country. Oftentimes in countries like Spain these tactics have proven invaluable since many doctors aren’t familiar with migraines or they don’t really treat the root problem but instead the symptoms. If your struggling with being sick don’t lose heart but instead keep fighting. We look forward to the time when we will no longer be sick but instead we can enjoy the things we like with full energy. Do you suffer from chronic illness? Let us know about it in the comments below or send us a message in the Contact Us section. If you want to read more about migraines you can check out my wifes blog www.amigrainelife.com. That’s all for now, have a great week everybody! 

2 Replies to “Dealing With Chronic Illness Overseas”

  1. Thank you!! Once again for sharing the realistic realities of life in this system with our earthen vessels and for showing how although we (I) my have (a/a few) chronic illness I/we can still be useful to Jehovah. Love you both and I’m so proud you and your faithfulness, demonstrated loyalty, love and sacrifices for Jehovah??

    1. Hi Yvette! We’re glad you appreciated the article. It’s been a less than ideal week for us but like you said that’s part of life in this world. It’s nice to be able to share what’s going on because I know that we are definitely not the only ones! Just because someone is serving abroad doesn’t mean that life is automatically a walk in the park. In fact often times there are challenges that we wouldn’t necessarily face back home. Keep up the great work as well! Warm regards,

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