Working with Sicknesses

Yes, that’s the topic of today’s blog posts, since I’ve found it to be an incredible challenge over the last few months.

When I was able to work full time, I had four days a week I only had two hours each day to work on things. If I found I didn’t have my computer, notebooks were the way to go. Even if it was a few pages, a character stat sheet for my notes or revisions, something was always done during my lunch and down time before sleep.

That left me with three days to balance chores, bills and novel writing, on top of my second job which is online.

But now that I’ve been out of work for the past three weeks, I’ve learned that it can be done, even when you’re suffering from debilitating things.

A little history before my post: Right now, I have heart problems going on—atrial fibrillation, to be exact. These follow with periods of syncope (the fancy medical term for passing out) at any given point in time. Along with this, there have been digestive issues going on, which may be from the elevated levels of my liver. Top that off with chronic joint and muscle pain and periods of chest pain that make me unable to breathe, drive, sit up or sleep and you got a recipe for disaster.

Oh and let’s not forget the 10+ a day I need to be in the bathroom because nothing I eat stays in my system. That can be crippling in itself. The syncope happens once a week now.

I’m being tested for autoimmune diseases (they’re seeing if it’s lupus now) and for other complications that make me unable to work at this time. They also think I have hyposomnia, which means that you’re tired at all times of the day. With all this crap, that’s only expected. I didn’t need a sleep study to tell me that, I don’t think.

Nope, gotta see one of those too. ARGH.

So what happens now that I have all this? Most people think I should be in bed 24/7 and not have a life, collect a check on disability, that sort of shit. But I’ve chosen to work around my barriers and start perhaps working from home full time instead and find another kind of health insurance plan if I have to.

And I don’t have time for that, if I’m going to publish books!

So here are some things I’ve started doing for those days when I can’t be in my chair with my big 20 inch screen.


1. Relax a little.

If you can’t concentrate right then, try to do something fun. Read a book, play with your animals (laser pointers are a godsend if you have cats), do something on your tablet or iPad. Personally I watch EVERYTHING on my iPad since I want my money’s worth out of the thing. When you recharge yourself, you’ll be able to get back to your task.


2. Build your schedule around naps.

I’ve had to do that for a little while till I can start sleeping good again. It’s been a chronic problem for years but I try to do tasks around the house when I’m feeling chipper at the beginning of my day, and my computer tasks when I can nap around them.


3. If joints hurt and it’s too hard to type, try using a dictation program.

I’m leery about this one, but been using Dragon. If I’m using it on anything else but the computer it’s wonderful. Get on the PC and you might as well be speaking in another language.

My hands and arms are the first things to go during joint pain, even with a ergonomic keyboard made for my cyst in my left hand. It gets to the point I can’t even make a fist, so writing is out for me too with a pen.


4. When you have a doctors appointment, take that time to review.

Everyone knows you’re waiting at the doctors for about an hour or more. Take your printed pages with you, or on your tablet if you have one. You have to be up anyway so why not make that time useful? It’s not like you can make phone calls at the doctor’s office anyway. They advise against that.


5. If you have a way to type in bed, do it.

Normally doctors tell you that you should use your bed for sleep or sex but what are you going to do if you can’t get out of bed to do what you need to do?

I have a iPad to edit with and a notebook computer that I use with my regular program on it to write my novels. (Having everything on a 8GB SD card REALLY helps when everything I use has that slot.) I don’t like the notebook nearly as much as my other laptop but it’s small enough that I can lay in bed and type for as long as I’m physically able to. And if I need to sleep, it’s small enough to put out the way but in arms reach.

I know others that have done that with different problems and they’re still pumping out books and working from home.


6. Try to keep a schedule, even if you have naps.

It’s very easy to blow off writing when you just don’t have the strength to get out of bed. But I find if I’m immersed in my characters, I stop worrying about my problems until I can’t anymore (the pain and the need to go in the bathroom, food, you know).

Once you stop, it’s very hard to get started again, even if it is in your normal schedule.


7. Join a support group.

You never know who you’re going to meet in these kinds of groups. I met two other writers in one I joined over a year ago. One writes children’s books and the other does sci-fi. Plus, they’re going through the same insecurities you are and you can only rely on your friends and family so much without burning them out.


8. Let the people you know aware what’s going on.

This isn’t a writing one, but I’ll share from personal experience.

The people at home thought I just had issues holding food down and had bipolar. The heart problem occurred when a friend visited and I fell out mid conversation after getting out of bed.

We had no idea it would get worse, nor did they because none of them seen me pass out before. Then I started getting scars from where I hurt myself when I fell, but some thought it was self inflicted. I know no one who would purposefully slam their hand in a door with door bolts going into your skin. I’ve gotten concussions before from it cause I fell on hardwood floor wrong.

After hearing the possibility of heart surgery, more tests were preformed after I couldn’t even go into sedation without it triggering afib. The more tests we found, the more people around me were wondering what was going on. I’m still wondering and the testing isn’t even over yet.

Friends worried that I wouldn’t live, others thought it was their fault I was having a crappy time of it. Others still have helped in ways I couldn’t even imagine. But I’ve come to make the most of it. Just having someone know in case something happens when I visit or if I’m gone for a long period of time online helps. They know I’m not ignoring them, blaming them or none of that. And they know it may be a medical emergency if I fall out on the floor.

Besides, a support system does wonders for battling illnesses. If you don’t have one, you do lose hope in getting better, even for a little while.


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