How am I planning to go back to normal and yet stay safe?
Going back to normal and yet staying safe is impossible, especially for those with CLL for whom getting infections is risky at best. So, the new “normal” is more of the same.
Going back to normal and yet staying safe is impossible, especially for those with CLL for whom getting infections is risky at best. So, the new “normal” is more of the same. Wearing masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing, avoidance of indoor gatherings and being watchful for any signs of infection will continue to be “job 1” for the foreseeable future.
So, how do I cope with this never-ending prison without bars? Some days it can be downright hard, especially when the weather makes it difficult to be at least outdoors. I tend to rely continually on the three corner stones of surviving with CLL, as described to me by my CLL specialist when I first began my CLL “journey” - social supports, exercise, and diet. And I would add a fourth, achieving daily small accomplishments
This new normal requires us to cope with challenges that test both our mental and physical limits. My social support relies very much on my considerate and very supportive partner. When I have concerns, I can often work them out by simply talking about them. In addition, we focus each day on things we can do to put a smile on our faces, a bit of warmth in our hearts and a challenge or two for our minds. However, I realize it’s a two-way street since there are times she requires my support more than I do and giving, at least to me, seems more therapeutic than taking all the time.
Add an energetic, loving and needy standard poodle to the equation and much of our social support and outdoor exercise needs are met. In addition, I force myself to use exercise equipment daily. While this is not always fun, I tend to feel better after completing the day’s regimen. Since restaurants are pretty well excluded from the new normal, especially in the winter, we try to cook something healthy each day (okay, being Hungarian I still have a particular fondness for bread, potatoes and pastries)
But most of all, I need to set daily tasks for myself or doing something special each day so I don’t fall into the rut of Ground Hogs’ Day repetition. I need to look forward to something a little different each day. It may be as little as reaching out to a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while, trying out a new recipe, cleaning up a cluttered desk or doing research for a planned trip when this is all over.
Finally, how do I deal with friends and family, who insist we get on with life? For me, it’s gentle education that explains to each of them, that for us with CLL, the new normal is much the same as it has been, but even more so. I’m not preachy but I try to make them understand that my choices are not optional, they’re a necessity if I hope to increase the odds of staying healthy in a harsh environment for the immune compromised.
St Catharines, Ontario