My Scleroderma Sunflower Therapy

My Scleroderma Sunflower Therapy

Scleroderma and the Ordinary Girl

Over the past week, I have been an angry little person. I contracted my husband’s head cold, and my immune system hasn’t coped well at all. Three weeks later, I remain exhausted. I’ve also had clinic appointments for my adrenal insufficiency, and doctors have concluded I will need steroids for the rest of my life.

Fun times.

The Marge Simpson growling noise I regularly emit while struggling with simple housework is not a good look, nor are the furious mutterings about other drivers from behind the safety of my steering wheel.

I know this anger hides pain. The truth is that I’m just so disappointed about the life limitations dictated by scleroderma. My pain is bred of deep grief and identity loss. Scleroderma changes many things, and my personality has drastically morphed.

I realize I tend to avoid leaving my anger behind because it means I must face the underlying pain. The problem is that I get stuck in a perpetual cycle of fury, which I call “angry little person mode.” By facing my pain head-on, I can work through it, which frees me to shift my attention to other things.

The sunflower is the international symbol of scleroderma. I love sunflowers. The cool thing is that sunflowers know exactly where the darkness is, so they turn their heads toward the sun.

Recognizing where darkness exists — my grief, identity loss, and anger — helps me see where the light is. I take the sunflowers’ example and turn my head toward the bright direction. In the light, I find gratitude for things that persist despite the darkness. This new vibration offers me a chance to move forward and explore a more joyful me.

Although it is tempting to stay an angry little person, the sunflowers’ wisdom inspires me. It takes bravery to face pain and hard work to move through it, but freeing myself to turn toward the good things in my life has “unstuck” me.

To celebrate, I’d like to share some of the things for which I am thankful. Enjoy these photos I’ve taken.


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Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.

I’m 49 and live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was diagnosed with Limited Systemic Scleroderma in 2013, and the disease has slowly progressed over the past three years. Prior to my diagnosis, I worked as a Counsellor/Therapist in private practice, however I was forced to close my practice in 2014 because the fatigue associated with the disease had become profound. Well before I studied, trained and worked as a Counsellor many years ago (at least 20) I was employed as a Dental Assistant. It is my belief that whilst working in this capacity I handled a number of chemicals that are now considered dangerous and this exposure may have been the trigger for my disease, together with an already existing genetic component. These days, my full time job is to work hard at my self-care and manage my symptoms as best I can. Part of this management is to reflect on and write about my experiences about living with Scleroderma in ordinary day to day life. This helps me a great deal, and I hope it helps my readers, both those who also suffer with Scleroderma, and to help raise awareness in those who do not. I enjoy adding a little humour to my writing, because honestly, I feel it’s important we all have a wee laugh from time to time. However, my writing usually includes a serious reflection of some sort. On a personal note, I am the wife of one, and the Mother of three boys. My husband Max is my main caregiver, and I am very fortunate to have such a loving and giving spouse. My children are aged 21, 19 and 13, and our two oldest boys live in different parts of New Zealand to study and work. Our youngest will be starting High School in 2017. We live with a menagerie of animals, including two dogs and four cats.
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I’m 49 and live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was diagnosed with Limited Systemic Scleroderma in 2013, and the disease has slowly progressed over the past three years. Prior to my diagnosis, I worked as a Counsellor/Therapist in private practice, however I was forced to close my practice in 2014 because the fatigue associated with the disease had become profound. Well before I studied, trained and worked as a Counsellor many years ago (at least 20) I was employed as a Dental Assistant. It is my belief that whilst working in this capacity I handled a number of chemicals that are now considered dangerous and this exposure may have been the trigger for my disease, together with an already existing genetic component. These days, my full time job is to work hard at my self-care and manage my symptoms as best I can. Part of this management is to reflect on and write about my experiences about living with Scleroderma in ordinary day to day life. This helps me a great deal, and I hope it helps my readers, both those who also suffer with Scleroderma, and to help raise awareness in those who do not. I enjoy adding a little humour to my writing, because honestly, I feel it’s important we all have a wee laugh from time to time. However, my writing usually includes a serious reflection of some sort. On a personal note, I am the wife of one, and the Mother of three boys. My husband Max is my main caregiver, and I am very fortunate to have such a loving and giving spouse. My children are aged 21, 19 and 13, and our two oldest boys live in different parts of New Zealand to study and work. Our youngest will be starting High School in 2017. We live with a menagerie of animals, including two dogs and four cats.

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