Monday, November 27, 2017

Chronic Illness Gift Ideas | Tips for Buying Gifts for People with Chronic Illness and Chronic Pain

Giving a gift to someone doesn't have to stick to a birthday or holiday, but as it is Cyber Monday, I want to share with you a video I created on gift ideas (for any time of year and any occasion) and buying tips for people who are chronically ill and/or who have chronic pain. You'll find it on my YouTube Channel,  Chronic Illness Reality which has the focus of helping those who are chronically ill live a fulfilling life with chronic illness.

This video is not just a list of ideas! Nope! I have been chronically ill  and have had chronic pain for more than 12 years and I share with you the insider scoop on how you can get a great gift for someone who has chronic illness  or chronic pain. I share with you some gift ideas I have and how you can level them up. I talk about the 5 needs that people with chronic illness have and how you can target those needs through your gift! Even if my gift ideas don't cut it for the person you have in mind, after you've watched the video you will feel confident going out and buying a gift for someone with chronic illness on your own! 

And as a bonus, people with chronic illness and chronic pain are sharing in the comment section what THEY think is are great gift ideas, so if you are looking for a gift idea, those ideas go way past what I could come up with.

Here are the links that I refer to in the video in case you are interested in checking these products out! Click on the product to go to the link!



Kelley's Cuddle Cottage (Find the The Mary Blanket there!)











QUESTION OF THE DAY:  What do you think is a great gift idea for someone with chronic illness/chronic pain? Please share in the comments of this blog or on the YouTube Video!

If you are new, consider Subscribing to this blog + my YouTube Channels + click the bell to get notified when I upload videos!
Chronic Illness Reality HERE
Wahle Warriors HERE

Hold onto Hope, Love this Day & Remember YOU are NOT alone!

Instagram: KellyFlyWithHope

DISCLAIMER: This blog contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, it's possible that I will receive a small commission. This helps support this blog and allows me to continue to make blogs and videos like the one above. Thank you for the support!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Birthdays With Chronic Illness + Chronic Pain | "Feel Better on Your Special Day!"

When people wish me a "Happy Birthday," it never fails that many people will say "I hope you feel better on your special day" or something like that. I don't fault them at all for wishing me well on my birthday in fact, I'm glad they do! My conundrum comes when I need to reply.

Should I be I honest and reply to the poor unsuspecting person who said "I hope you are feeling better!" with saying "Actually, it was a horrible day. I celebrated by tossing my cookies and ate nothing -not even regular food- the whole day.  I fell because I'm still relearning how to walk balance-wise and it hurt! And I was crawling out of my skin because my pain level was so high. I was actually writhing. George and I scratched even the lowest key celebration ideas and it resembled more of a really hellish regular day than anything like a birthday."

In reality I say, "Thank you! I hope you are doing well!" or maybe something specific to what they said. Why don't I respond to what they say about hoping I have a good day? I mean, they mentioned it, not me! Why do I have this need to protect THEM instead of being heard for what I suffered through?

I don't really have the answer. I actually do this quite a lot. I didn't really tell anyone except my family that I would be completely alone for Thanksgiving this year which was a heart wrenching decision. George went out of town to be with family and I stayed behind because of my health. And my health prevented me from telling people I know locally who probably would've invited me to their Turkey Day tables. And because my diet is more restrictive than ever, I wouldn't have been able to accept left-overs.

The best answer I have as to why I sometimes hide reality of my life with others is because experience has told me that it is easier if I don't mention it. I'm painfully honest on my vlog, but my explanation for that is that you have to choose to watch my vlog, you can't help but see your feed on social media. Make sense?

Early on in my chronic illness journey, I was always torn when people would ask me how I was. As I'm an open book. I would always answer by talking about my health and I'd notice people were often uncomfortable. My counselor at the time recommended that I think of the question, "How are you?" as being more superficial and if they wanted to ask deeper, they would. So, I adhere to that as it is a good rule of thumb. But again, I can't do that on social media.

Vlogging changed the game for me because those who are interested in my health have had their eyes peeled WIDE open to what has been my reality for a while. And I am so glad for the change. And now, if anyone who asked me about my birthday also watches my Wahle Warrior Vlog, they will now know that my birthday was pretty hellish this year.

Thanksgiving Travel Plans | Belated Birthday Celebration With Chronic Illness {11-19-2017}

On this Wahle Warriors Vlog, George and I discussed our upcoming travel plans for Thanksgiving and we based the decision for me not going on my health but also on how much stress it would put on George. As my caregiver, he does SO MANY THINGS. And if you watch my vlog regularly, you see that. It was clear to me that his need to have respite from me and all things disabling chronic illnesses was GREATER than my need to go to see his family. (I was ready to go no matter what the consequences to my health.)

And by the way, it is okay and good to be honest about this. I don't take George's need for a break personally. He is greatly affected by my health physically and emotionally and sometimes respite it is what he needs. I don't take it personally because my health affects me too and I get it. My health is not me, it is my health - a separate entity. I wish I could have a break from it too! (It also helps that I was a respite care worker, taking kids with behavioral challenges on outings to give their parents a break. The kids weren't bad - they just had challenges that they couldn't control.) In truth, I wanted to go to Thanksgiving with George. But more than going, I wanted  George to be able to relax and be fully present on the trip.

Additionally, last Christmas we missed going to George's family for Christmas because I was going through the worst of my recovery of re-learning how to walk balance-wise. Christmas day was actually the worst day vertigo and disequilibrium-wise. And as I was hypersensitive, I couldn't even tolerate George being in the room. His entire Christmas vacation that he had taken off of work intending to be with his family, he stayed to take care of me (bringing me food + walking me to the toilet) but the rest of the time he was painfully alone. It broke both of our hearts.

So many reasons for him to go this year. We didn't actually talk that much about our Thanksgiving decision on camera, which is why I thought I'd share more about it here. In the video above, you can see our fun make-up celebration for my birthday! It was SO much fun!

QUESTION OF THE DAY: How has chronic illness or chronic pain affected or not affected your birthday? Answer below or on the video's comments!

If you are new, consider Subscribing to this blog + my YouTube Channels + click the bell to get notified when I upload videos!
Chronic Illness Reality HERE
Wahle Warriors HERE

Hold onto Hope, Love this Day & Remember YOU are NOT alone!

Instagram: KellyFlyWithHope

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I Feel Better When I'm Dancing!

Martin Luther King, Jr. said,
If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward."
With chronic illness, and in my case with chronic illnesses that are disabling, staying moving both physically and emotionally are extremely important. Moving forward, no matter how fast or how slow is vital to living a fulfilled life with chronic illness.

My movement of choice is dancing. I feel better when I'm dancing. Although George and I grew up dancing and know how to ballroom dance, I have the most fun when we are dancing with abandon.  If you want to laugh at some crazy nerds dancing with abandon, check out the Wahle Warriors' Vlog below. You might just find your toe tapping. Or *gasp* you may even get up and dance with us!

I promised to share bonus information here about the videos that I don't share anywhere else. Here you go!

Fly With Hope SCOOP:

This video combines dancing from April, August and September 2017. April 2017 was the first time I had felt good enough to dance in a long time which made it extra-sweet.

 In August, I was really not feeling well physically or emotionally and dancing can change my mood. You can see how much my body language changes from the beginning to the end.

In September, I talk about the "Stand" notification on my Apple watch that happens 10 minutes before every hour.  I use this reminder to physically move whenever possible. If I cant' stand up, I move my arms, if I can't move my arms, I do some diaphragmatic breathing which slows down my heart rate and makes me feel better on the whole. If I CAN stand, I do and it is even better when I dance.

Although I take life one tiny step at a time, I focus on moving no matter how challenging it is. Dance is my preferred method. I also stretch, do physical therapy exercises and on rare occasions Tai Chi or Pilates. How about you?

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What do you do to keep moving with chronic illness?

If you are new, consider Subscribing to this blog + my YouTube Channels + click the bell to get notified when I upload videos!
Chronic Illness Reality HERE
Wahle Warriors HERE

Hold onto Hope, Love this Day & Remember YOU are NOT alone!

Instagram: KellyFlyWithHope

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A New Chapter For Kelly | Chronic Illness Reality + Wahle Warriors

Writing and this blog is my first love and I have a fun announcement! Chronic health challenges have made writing difficult for me the last few years. Did you know that I am getting a service dog to help me with my balance and mobility disabilities?  I have painfully neglected Fly With Hope but NOT anymore!

Drumroll.... I've decided to incorporate my YouTube videos into this blog! (Scroll down to see two of my videos below!)  I had jumped over to YouTube and started creating video content as I found it easier to talk to a camera than to write. But I will be using this blog to expand on what I am sharing on YouTube as well as give some bonus details about the videos. YouTube has become a place where I update my loved ones and friends on how I am doing as well as share with others who have chronic illness and chronic pain.

My vlog, Wahle Warriors, is a channel where I share with you all what is happening in my life on a day to day basis! This channel is geared toward my loved ones, friends and anyone who has to warrior through anything, especially chronic illness & chronic pain, and looking to live a fulfilled life. I share about how my chronic illness and chronic pain affect my life while still having a good life!

Intratympanic Gentamicin Injection - Meniere's Disease Treatment | See Footage! {10-06-2017} shows when Kelly just recently got a procedure for her Meniere's disease.Watch me get get her 4th intratympanic gentamicin injection, with actual footage of the treatment in the video! I have been having a rough recovery from it as I relearn to walk as my balance system was completely thrown out of whack. The purpose of this procedure is to kill or at least harm my diseased vestibular system chemically in order to reduce the out of control vertigo that affects my quality of life so severely. This is the 4th time I've had this procedure and the length of time it has helped has increased with each treatment.

Chronic Illness Reality is a YouTube channel that has many videos already but the upcoming videos are going to have an more focused vision.  My videos are intended to help people with chronic illness to live a fulfilled life with chronic illness through tips and tricks videos, talking about chronic illness hot topics, as well as answering viewer questions about specific chronic health conditions. So far people have been asking a lot about Meniere's disease as well as IBS because I have a video showing when I experienced attacks.

Chronic Illness Has Taken Over My Life | I Need Help is a video where I share about living through chronic illness when it feels too challenging. You can hear about the tools I use to maintain a sense of control even when my chronically ill life feels out of control.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What do you do to regain control of your life when chronic illness has taken over? Answer in the comments here or on the video!

If you are new, consider Subscribing to Kelly's YouTube Channels + click the bell to get notified when Kelly posts!
Chronic Illness Reality HERE
Wahle Warriors HERE

Hold onto Hope, Love this Day & Remember YOU are NOT alone!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cutting the Ribbon to the Next Season of Life

Imagine confetti coming out of the screen and you suddenly hear your favorite song of celebration in your head. In this moment, its a tie:"Overcomer" by Mandisa and "Roar" by Katy Perry as it was what I danced to as I relearned (for the second time) how to walk this past December/January. 

You were meant to be HERE reading this post at this very moment. Whether you are meant to be here to share with me your own insight and story or whether you are meant to take something away from what I have to share with you, I am happy you are here to witness what is not only a ribbon cutting to the next season of my life, but also what could be one for us, in our friendship/connection, you in your own life with yourself or with someone else. The big red ribbon & bow slung in front of this next season isn't actually red but a crazy multicolored print much like some of my crazy socks! 

Do you have your scissors ready? This is a community thing, so try to find your elusive pair of scissors as you are going to be a part of the ribbon cutting at the end. Yes, you: family, friend, stranger, soulmate, kindrid spirit, Instagram friend, YouTube Subscriber, Blog reader, Twitter follower, WegoHealth Twitter Chat participant or found-this-post-by-accident individual--I need you all to find those scissors so we can cut up this ribbon together because by the end of this multi-part blog post, I would love to know that you all will be joining me in tackling this crazy life by living life to the fullest, finding the best quality of life we can as we rise above the circumstances of our lives whether they be related to our physical and/or mental health,  relationships, family, inner battles (addictions/weight), finances, loss of loved ones, fill-in-the-blank.  Let's do this together! No one gets left behind or forgotten. You are not alone simply because you are not alone in your circumstances but also because there are people that care...

Before we go on, and I share a bit of what has happened in my life, let's all turn on a timer on for at least 30-60 seconds and wherever you are just sit back, close your eyes, consciously relax each of your muscles and take some slow deep breaths. Once the timer goes off, reset it for another round or grab a pen and paper, your smartphone, a tablet or a video recording device and take down/record a quick journal entry. You can think about it in your head, but actually writing it or speaking it is communicating it and in my experience, it makes it more powerful. 

As you write or speak, connect with where you are in life at this moment. What are you feeling physically? What are you feeling emotionally?  Oh how easy it is for the day to fly by without us taking this precious time for ourselves. So take this minute and check in with yourself, offer yourself a word of encouragement and write down one thing for which you are thankful and if you are so inclined, write/say a prayer and/or a verse or quote of inspiration. This self-care practice is quick and easy and can bring life back when life circumstances have worn us out. Even if it is uncomfortable or unfamiliar to think about these things, give it a try and keep trying. We learn as we go. 

But before we can cut the ribbon, I have to re-introduce myself. I have been in a place of isolation for the last few years and as I come out to the world again, I want to share with you what is new and different about me so you can know me. My health situation has changed and I have a new plan for living life to the fullest, rising above the realties in front of me and pursuing the best quality of life I can have.

I am not the person I was four and a half years ago and I'm not even the person I was two years ago. I have changed significantly in how I treat others and myself. I ditched the temper, grew grace, embraced life experiences I never expected to have and stopped having expectations of other people, well, unreasonable ones anyway... and I'm still learning. It was four and a half years ago when I started to withdraw from the world, but I went into a deeper isolation toward the end of 2014.

1. I couldn't handle it. I was going through issues in my personal life, and in addition to my health that was challenging, I did not know how to cope with everything including interacting with family, friends and strangers. I intermittently talked with one person aside from my mom. And my husband, George was the only person I have been seeing for months and months at a time with doctors and strangers at the theatre interspersed in between. I responded to prayer requests and tried to support others when I could, but I really did not have the ability to share about my own life or be very present in other's lives. It broke my heart, but it was my reality.

2. As my health conditions changed and new disabilities became reality, I could not face them. I lived them, but I was in denial. I also could not face sharing the disabilities with my family. I already felt like my health issues were a burden to them and I simply did not want to hurt them anymore. So, I hid. Also, I hunkered down to try to weather the storms that were coming down hard personally. 

1. Enduring four and a half years of change and growth with George after his suicide attempt has been much more of a challenge than I ever anticipated. If learning my husband attempted suicide is new to you, please check out these two posts: Trauma 22 Years Apart My Brother + My Husband &   My Husband Tried To Take His Own Life.  I let go of everything I ever thought could hold me together and clung to my faith in God as the wind thrashed me around.

Nothing else other than my faith in God as my foundation got me through. George is in a much healthier place and thus we are finally at a place where the healing is happening. Therefore, I am finally in a place where I can open myself more to the world and start participating. Of course I still have limited spoons (units of energy) but at least I'm capable of putting myself out there again and starting to be a part of other peoples's lives, which I have missed so much. 

2. My disabilities grew so great that I could not hide them anymore from my family.  My family knew some of my limitations because even for short visits, they rarely see me as my body's symptoms are not predictable.  But, they did not have stairs in their house so they never knew I was struggling with them. And when they came to visit, I was consistently too ill to leave the house with my family, so they never witnessed my stair difficulties until this past Thanksgiving 2016. It can take 30-40 minutes for me to ascend the stairs with inflamed hands and knees and/or with balance & vertigo difficulties as well as weakness.

I began revealing my needs and disabilities to my family including my need for an electric wheelchair to get me from point A to point B, which my immediate family became familiar with during our trip to Walt Disney World Christmas 2015. In June 2016, at Wrigley Field, a baseball stadium that does not have to be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) complaint, George, my dad, my uncle and a stadium worker were my muscles in getting me up and down stairs. My dad helped me into our blue Toyota RAV4 and even belted me in as I had no strength left. Amidst the most incredible time watching the Cubs, who went on to win the World Series in November, play from dream seats as we celebrated my Uncle's birthday, my needs were a touch of bitter amidst so much sweetness.

But as I revealed my needs and disabilities in front of my family I had to start facing and accepting them. Coming out of denial, accepting and seeing that I need help and now coming out of isolation are all wins for me. I wish things weren't they way they were, but I had to walk through that desert. I'm not sure if I'm to the oasis yet, but at least I'm consciously walking toward it with full awareness of what is happening in my body and my life.

In the upcoming posts, you will read about the current state of my health and also how my life is different in ways you might not know or expect. I look forward to cutting the ribbon together at the end of this series, so make sure to stay tuned!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Not MY Day. His.

Thursday was a challenging day for me (the whole week has been)- but it was worse than usual- a day where I was so ill that many factors kept me from functioning. Nothing went how I wanted/needed. I couldn't get up from bed ect ect. I needed complete assistance to walk to the bathroom; couldn't eat because of esophageal problems-other stuff I won't go into. George was texting me from work (45 min away) asking for updates on how I was, and I could tell he was feeling a bit stressed/helpless (he took extra self-care time once he got home). As I was asking God how to support George, God reminded me that my life is not mine-and that today is not my day. It is Jesus's life and His day! Jesus died for me to have this day- even if it feels like a worthless day where all I did was lay still on my back in the dark of my room and keep falling asleep as I attempted to edit video completely unproductive and extremely unwell... Wow! That brought me so much joy. It was/is Jesus's day first and foremost! And though every day should be; we officially surrendered the day/gave the day, to God & kept repeating it. My life is not my own- and sometimes it seems (because it is like this in society) like the people who are healthy-their lives would be the valuable ones to Christ to have surrendered because maybe they have more abilities and less limitations.. But no-my life on my weak day is incredibly valuable to God and WOW there is so much Joy in that! How can I NOT smile! Praise God for loving us! Thursday reminded me that every day belongs to Christ and no matter what I can or cannot do, I am enough and worthy and loved. And I can have joy because of that.Thank you God for your mercies.

(I originally posted this blog post by complete accident, as I thought I had saved it for myself for later-which I often do. It wasn't until a friend wrote me about this post that I discovered I must've accidentally made it public. Though it was meant for myself, I am leaving it up unedited/unchanged as the message gave me new perspective that I don't want to forget and I hope all with chronic illness/pain learn. We are JUST as worthy as those who are healthy. Our value does not lie in our health or what we are able to do. We are enough, just as we are. -Kelly)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Please watch the first video as it describes some of what you will want to know about #ThankfulThirty, which is a term I created.
*Make sure to press Pause at the end of the video or it will go on to others!!*

The video tells it all. My apologies to my deaf and hard of hearing friends. I doubt that I will be able to CC my #ThankfulThirty's because I don't have the spoons.  In the video above, I share something called "Thankful Thirty" that I had thought about doing a while ago, but I never really started doing. The #ThankfulThirty's came out of a realization that there is something to be thankful for in each day and I needed to ponder it and then share it in some way.. I started saying what I was thankful for on a daily basis via my YouTube channel (though I haven't done it everyday since I started 11/18/15). For those who are deaf or HOH, perhaps you could write for 30 seconds daily about what you are thankful for and share it with someone via text, email, PM or keep it to yourself! Be creative! If doing a video, the idea is to limit the video to around 30 seconds; however, you will see I go over 30 seconds most days!!

I have been surprised how being thankful changed my ability to float through the difficult times I have been having. It has kept me looking toward the light rather than the darkness.

In the very first blog of content that I wrote in June 2008, I discussed a book I had been reading called The Gift of Pain. Dr. Brand and his coauthor, Phillip Yancey wrote in The Gift of Pain:
Gratitude is the single response most nourishing to health.
So what stands in the way of being thankful, appreciative or having gratitude other than thinking it is a "cheesy" thing to do?

Daniel Hurley, MD, in his book, Facing Pain Finding Hope: A Physician Examines Pain, Faith and the Healing Stories of Jesussays "We cannot be grateful for what we cannot recognize." Sometimes those of us with chronic illness can be so caught up in the life we are leading that we cannot see that there ARE things to be thankful for, much less tune into them and embrace them.  Pain, anxiety, depression, chronic illness, are all heavy wet blankets we must throw off or at least peak out underneath so that we can recognize what we have in our lives for which we can be grateful.

For me, sometimes the enormity of all the challenges I'm navigating feels so great that I struggle to find something to be grateful for even though I know being thankful is incredibly important to my well being and I have a multitude of items/people/places for which I have be thankful. Just recently, I was thinking about how tired I was of dealing with so many challenges alone and I was so distracted, I started the camera before I even knew what I was going to say and you can see it takes me several seconds to find something to say and I wouldn't say I seemed too thankful, what do you think?

*Make sure to press Pause at the end of the video or it will go on to others!!*

How about that fake smile at the end?

In Facing Pain, Finding HopeDr. Hurley continued,
Focusing beyond terrible circumstances allows us to see. If we cannot see, we cannot recognize a gift. Without this openness, vision and recognition, we express no gratitude. Rather we continue down the road, lonely and lamenting loudly. (pg.138)
Is it important and even healthy to lament? Yes of course. But what is the ratio of lamenting our situation to the ratio of our thankfulness/joy that we express? To survive, thrive and even enjoy our lives when they are full of constant chronic pain or chronic illness, we must fight to be thankful in general more than we are upset/angry ect. At least that is what I have learned from the last ten and a half years of living though chronic illness. Focusing beyond allows us to see.  I invite you to check out this video I made in October 2015 about "My Choice to See" discussing the difference of being thankful FOR everything VERSUS being thankful IN everything.

In Facing Pain, Finding Hope, Dr. Hurley says, "Gratitude for even little things brings us closer in touch with others and with God." (pg 138). Having chronic illness has made it both harder and easier to find little things to be thankful for. Whether you are a person of faith or not, being thankful can bring you closer in touch with others because whether or not they see/read your #ThankfulThirty, those who are close to you will notice a change in you because being truly thankful truly changes the spirit and the heart of a person.

I will admit that my second "#ThankfulThirty" video is a bit embarrassing because I am thankful for this silly monster pillow. You'd think I'd want to start this endeavor out with something stupendous, but I chose a monster pillow.

So what are you thankful for? Though I have posted each "ThankfulThirty" on my YouTube channel HERE, they were for me and not really anyone else. Although I am happy when someone happens upon them and finds camaraderie, inspiration or encouragement.

In 2015, I did a lot of work on myself in changing how I approached my health issues in my mind. The work I did was so significant that after twelve years of having Generalized Anxiety Disorder, it was finally managed and I no longer have anxiety! #ThankfulThirty is just one part of a whole of looking at my health in a completely different way. I chose to see things differently, to appreciate life, to find joy, and many other ways of approaching chronic illness that I look forward to sharing in future posts. And I look forward to learning how you all do this too!

#ThankfulThirty is not just for those who are chronically ill as everyone can benefit from being thankful! I hope you try out doing a #ThankfulThirty whether it be by video or written. And perhaps go even further in trying it out for a prolonged period of time if only just a month and evaluate whether or not it was of benefit to you. As I shared, some days, being thankful has been hard but I'm glad I have stuck with it. God has used it to help to change my life.

**This post is dedicated to Eva Markvoort who changed my life by sharing her story and led me to the idea of #ThankfulThirty. You can see Eva's story in the documentary 65_RedRoses which is available on many streaming platforms including iTunes, Amazon Video, GooglePlay & others. The movie's trailer is HERE.**