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After more than 20 years with a debilitating chronic illness, I'm still trying to find ways to live well. I strive to make meaning from my experiences but it doesn't always work. Visual art fascinates me and I also like playing with words. I'm curious about how people see the world, the marks we make and the stories we tell.
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A good relationship with your health provider is important. But sometimes problems can arise. They can be difficult to resolve. Dr Grant Davies is Victoria's Acting Health Services Commissioner. He suggests people approach their health providers directly. Sometimes providers don't realise there is a problem. People can also make more formal complaints. All Australian states and territories have organisations to deal with these complaints. There is also a national agency to investigate more serious matters. Complaints can help improve our healthcare system. It worthwhile remembering that it's ok to complain.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a poorly understood medical condition. It affects people differently. Everyone who has it experiences severe fatigue. Ann has lived with CFS for sixteen years. She has had to change her outlook and her activities to manage her illness. She has also had to confront negative opinions about CFS from other people. Ann is lucky to have the support of her family and friends. Over time, she has learned to accept and appreciate her new way of living. She has found wisdom in her slow and simple life.
Exercise is important for our health. But finding the right kind of exercise can be difficult. Not everyone can run or lift weights. Yoga is one form of exercise that claims to suit everybody. The physical poses of yoga may appear difficult. But they can be adapted for most levels of ability. Physical practice is only one aspect of yoga. Breathing techniques and meditation are also important. People can learn to do yoga at whatever level works for them. The simple sequence included here shows how yoga can bring harmony to body, mind and spirit.
Toni Bernhard has written a book called How To Be Sick. It sounds like it might be full of rules and instructions but it is not. Instead it is about Buddhist ideas and practices. Toni uses these to manage her chronic illness. She explains various practices in the book, including compassion and accepting things as they are. Toni is honest about how hard it can be do. The book lists different practices to use for specific problems with chronic illness. It is not only for people who are ill. It has good advice for anyone wanting to live well.
I spent some time at the Morwell Centenary Rose Garden. The garden is in the town of Morwell, two hours east of Melbourne. It was established by local people twenty years ago. Volunteers take care of the garden and the roses that grow there. The garden has been designed with accessibility in mind. It has paths and benches so visitors can enjoy the sights and scents. There is also a perfumed sensory garden. The garden is a peaceful place where my mind could wander. It is well worth a visit.