Nudging our limits with chronic illness

Are limits meant to be… nudged?

Are limits with chronic illness meant to be nudged

Sometimes we exceed our limits to have an adventure… and we pay the price. But we plan for the consequences of our actions and are willing to pay the price. Have even set aside recovery days.

Nudging our limits with chronic illness

This picture is of a bridge in Ireland that is between the mainland and an island. I don’t remember if it was the longest bridge or what attraction it was but I wanted to see it. It was a long walk though. I Thought a km there and back. But it was a km there and a km back. Or maybe a mile. Either way I pushed my limits walking up and down hills. Got there. Saw the bridge. The scenery was spectacular. Had a lot of trouble walking back. Had to take some rests and was walking painfully slow. People were staring. Of course. I had exceeded my limits. I did it, but when we exceed our limits because we want to, we often know there will be greater pain and a flare as a result.

What mattered is that I went. I went, I saw, I succeeded. I got a certificate… and still have that because it reminds me that I made the walk! Means more to me than anyone else who went to that bridge I can tell you that. This was a while ago, mind you. And with FM it is weird to me how some days I can walk for a half an hour and be fine and other times fifteen minutes is Killer. It is a daily test. A daily limit. That changes on us.

But what I really want to talk about isn’t exceeding limits because I wanted to do something. But rather nudging our limits to not restrict ourselves.

Normally on my ventures I walk until I feel that first ache (not normal baseline, but that ‘Ah this is beyond normal’)… then we turn around and walk back. We see what there is to see on that distance and just turn around. I nudge my limits. I go. I explore. Nudge. And then go back. And yeah you’ll be sore, but nudging isn’t going to cause a flare. Because it isn’t going well beyond your limit. Same applied to fatigue because that can be just as serious… as soon as you feel it, turn back. I do this on all my holiday ventures. We may not explore As Much as others. But to me they are hikes worth mentioning. Well, ‘hikes’ is a stretch, since it is more like short walks. But to me? Achievement score: Amazing!

Here is the thing, sometimes we look at these things and just go ‘nope’ can’t do that. That’ll cause a flare for sure. Doctors will say it is sick behavior or avoidance behavior. Not doing things for fear of the pain it may cause. This doesn’t include things that we know will cause a flare. Or things we know exceed our limits majorly. We have to be aware of our limitations. And pacing. Vital knowledge to not Booming and Busting. But they warn us to not directly avoid things because of the fear of what may be. To not ‘no’ ourselves out of life. It is a tricky sort of balance because chronic pain is a tricky sort of thing to feel your way through.

How often do you feel like Doing Things in pain? With the bonus of fatigue? Not often. It isn’t fun. The effort it takes alone is momentous. And you feel worse after, often needing some recovery time. And we wonder… is it worth it? To attempt exercise. To go to an event you have to drive to. To do anything, when we know it will make us worse?

Limits are barriers, but they are meant to be tested? I wonder.

And we will exceed them sometimes. It happens. We will Flare. But we flare for no reason at all sometimes. Hell, we flare sometimes because we Wanted to do something and we knew the price of it. Like every single time I have ever gone bowling in my life. I have a blast. I flare for a week. Worth it. I have fun with friends neon bowling although I suck at it and it causes me a lot of pain. No idea why I like it. Considering. It isn’t a frequent venture. The pain doesn’t prevent me from doing it… but it means low functionality for a week or more.

So maybe we should nudge our limits in little ways when we can. See where it takes us. What it brings us. I say this because I have this driving need to know Just Where my limits Are. What Can I do? Can I do More? Or do I have to keep on this pace? Where is my balance? Can I find the Goldilocks Zone? And… nudge it?

Lately, I can’t even really do this. The vestibular migraines have been brutal. And it limits almost everything I can do. Can’t drive. Often have issues with reading. When I nudge my limit the vertigo gets much worse for days and days.

So we have to pay attention to if we are at a point where there are very limited things we can do. But also pay attention to nudging our limits. Like when I socialize. I have a migraine. I always have a migraine. But when the pain isn’t severe, it is rather moderate, I can socialize in an environment that is migraine friendly for short periods of time. I can leave if it gets worse, of course. And you get a lot of socializing that is beneficial. It is a rare thing for me. Bad days are more than good days right now. And then the vertigo. But I do try to socialize, even if it is a fire in the backyard with my neighbors. Even if I don’t for long. Or have to make sure I am sitting. Or just brief ventures going out for a coffee.

And like, now, for me we also have to understand the severe limits of low functionality. When we just cannot even manage much at all. And everything has just such a massive cost to it. At these times we actually have to get used to severer limitations. We can’t nudge them yet. We have to find where our new lower limit is. Where that threshold is.

But in the end, it never hurts to test our limits in small ways.

Living in the pain gaps, I often say. Trying to have some semblance of a life in there. We know when we are in high pain and functionality is lost. And we know when we are in lower pain and still have some functionality. And only then can we nudge those limits. Carefully. Paced. Gently. And see where it takes us.

See also:

Dealing with lower functionality

The stagnation of low functionality

Chronic pain: High functioning?
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6 comments

  1. Now that is a concept you never hear about. I’m not very good at stopping at a nudge and often go past my limits but this is definitely something to keep in mind

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too sometimes. But usually when I want to do something I know will flare me, and do it anyway. As long as I have recovery time after. But sometimes I just push them a little bit.

      Liked by 1 person

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