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Being disabled or chronically ill is often accompanied by a sense of your world shrinking. There are things that you could do, but now can’t. There are places you could go, but are now more challenging or less fun, or more stressful or difficult. Options seem to decrease, and the world often seems just a bit smaller.

These losses hurt and can often lead to depression or other mental health issues, which for too many people spirals into all kinds of unpleasant things.

However, none of this has to be the case. The reality is that there are always still options out there, choices you can make, and ways that you can impact, manage, or adjust your experiences so that you still can find a good amount of hope and joy in your life.

What do I mean by pivoting?

Right now, you are likely facing multiple decisions that are related to your physical and mental health.

If you are newly diagnosed, seeking a diagnosis, or questioning your treatment, you may be looking to make a major change in your medical care, like finding a new doctor, adjusting your insurance, or seeking out a specialist.

With each of these major decisions, there are multiple options and each one can have a significant impact on your health and quality of life.

Your goal, therefore, should be to find the best possible option, the one that has the best chance of significantly improving your health and life. Choosing poorly can increase your chances of having a poor outcome, new trauma, or wasted energy and/or money. This is a pivot point—your decision is especially significant, and likely to have long-term effects.

I’ve written this blog to help you to find those best options when you hit these pivot points so that you have the best chance of successfully navigating the path and finding the best option for you in your time of greatest need.

For most people, there are identifiable pain points—the one or two specific situations or challenges that eat at you the most, that drain your energy the most, that hurt the most.

What I’m encouraging you to do is dig into yourself and try to recognize the root of that pain, the base idea, image, or challenge that is as deep down as you can find, and then do everything in your power to change that one thing.

Find the point of deepest impact and fix that, and then many other pieces can fall back in place.

Medically, that ideally is the underlying cause of the symptoms. For example, a broken limb needs to be put back together. Nothing else will fix the problem, even if painkillers temporarily mute the symptoms. Fix the root cause and then quality healing can take place.

What will help your healing most is recognizing the pivot points in your care and ensuring that when you hit them, you make the choice that will help you most. As time passes, new pivot points will appear, and if you keep making those best choices, your situation should continue to improve. The better you are at identifying and resolving these pivot points, the more efficiently you’re likely to be able to solve your particular challenges.

I’m all about finding that one thing that will make the biggest change in my life, and focusing on that. My secondary thought is to the other significant things and recognizing the points in them where there is a choice, and trying to make the best one.

There are choices in a lot of places, especially in medical care, where you might not immediately see them, so I want to help you learn to recognize those points of choice and make sure that you can get finger-holds there so you can harness the power of those options.

Self-care can be a pivot point

I write a lot about mindset management, tools and tricks that you can use to help yourself understand and find that hope.

Habits you can build, and decisions you can make to help make the pain or other symptoms more bearable, help you find windows of opportunity, and help you find those silver linings and feelings of gratitude and hope.

I’m all about finding the right balance as well, because I’m never going to say that everything’s sunshine and rainbows, or that these tools will make everything right. I hate toxic positivity and want you as a reader to have a realistic assessment of how you are doing so you can create achievable goals for yourself and find the right balance for yourself between pushing toward your dreams and accepting your own natural limits.

A Filipinx woman with a filtering face mask sits outside a cafe and writes in a notebook. She is wearing headphones and in front of a window, with potted plants all around.
Self-care is vital, but how to practice self-care is a bit different for each person. Photo courtesy of Disabled and Here (https://affecttheverb.com/disabledandhere/).

Too often, we face stigma and limit ourselves because we have internalized so much ableism.

We need to nurture ourselves, take responsibility for our own quality of life through radical self-care, and develop habits that improve our chances of thriving.

We can, and should, exercise regularly (the question is about type and intensity), have healthier eating practices (based on our own dietary limitations), and find a form of mindfulness or meditation that works for us.

Cultivating a positive mindset will help anyone find more hope and be better able to find the positives than they would otherwise.

Simply living with a disabling condition is hard, and making peace with the process can be a powerful tool for healing yourself.

And for those of us managing chronic and/or disabling conditions, that positivity can greatly aid us in remaining as resilient as possible as we face the challenges our lives may bring.

The links above are an incomplete list of tools for self-care, but my point is that if you can recognize a weak point in your life, look for the tools that will help you strengthen it.

You can’t do everything, but you can pick one helpful habit and start practicing it.

Very often, that one tool that really helps can have a positive impact on your life, and opens the door for you to keep improving your life, one step at a time.

You may also be able to pivot toward more stability by using social welfare programs

I believe that we all have our own struggles and our own potential solutions.

I have put a lot of time and energy into understanding the US social welfare system specifically so that I can help others, such as you, to understand these systems and evaluate if, when and how to participate in them.

a collection of paperwork lies out on a white surface.  The top document is an IRS form, and the rest of the documents appear to be related.
Even taxes are a form of social benefit program – there should be no shame in participating in social welfare supports.

Applying for disability isn’t an easy decision, and is another choice that people can make. For some people, it’s the right choice, despite the challenges that go with it, and for other people, there are better or more helpful options.

You can’t make a good decision without understanding your options, though, and too many folks dismiss options without understanding them, or feel too ashamed or frightened to ask for the help they are eligible for.

My posts on these topics are all about understanding how each part of the system works so that you can make a knowledge-based decision, rather than a fear- or ignorance-based one.

Applying for disability-based support has its costs and its benefits. If you are struggling financially, that’s what our social safety net is for.

It is far from ideal, but if you are eligible, you have every right to that help (SSDI, SSI, Medicaid, LIHEAP, SNAP)—and getting it can be a useful tool for getting yourself to a better place in your life.

If you need these supports, getting them can help you pivot from struggling to survive to having a solid base to rebuild your life on. Stability is often a good thing, and these supports can help take away some of that uncertainty and make your life that much easier.

There are a lot of pivot points in healthcare—use them!

When it comes to medical care, there are always options. Most early diagnoses (and sometimes later ones) have degrees of uncertainty involved, and doctors, like all humans, are imperfect and capable of mistakes. You always have the right to get a second opinion or to look into your treatment options.

There is no “one right way” to do most things, and that’s especially true within our current healthcare system. You have every right to question what you’re told, to ask how a decision was reached or results were found.

Even when your diagnosis is correct, you also have options in treatment.

There are usually more than one medication available, more than one way to do surgery (there definitely are multiple surgeons who could do it), or more than one treatment regimen or lifestyle choice that could help.

There’s pretty much always another way to manage things—and you deserve to know what it is.

black female technician uses a pipette whose tip is deep in a brown glass vial.  More vials stand nearby.
Some medical information is very reliable, while other pieces of information are not.

I want to help you recognize the holes and cracks in the system, so you can avoid falling in or through them.

By knowing what information is firm and what information is open to interpretation, and by recognizing when and where your information can be lost or misinterpreted, I’m empowering you to be able to jump over the traps, avoid the pitfalls, and be able to pick up the trail again in your hunt for better health and a better life.

Our country’s healthcare system is broken and needs to be fixed, but even while we’re waiting for that, there are often steps you can take to make the better choice, get some coverage, and select the best option for you in terms of healthcare.

The other hugely important point is that doctors are people, too. They are trained to recognize how bodies go wrong and fail to work. However, it’s a complex topic and no single doctor has a complete understanding of how all of it works. The really good doctors are the ones who are willing to admit their own areas of ignorance. It’s quite common to also need to see one or more specialists, so make sure that you get the most out of each appointment.

The key to making your best decisions with your medical care is to always remember that you should have a choice in each step. Doctors often share the most common treatment option first, but you are a unique individual, so that may not be the best option for you. Always ask about your options so that you have a clear understanding about where your choice lies—and do your best to choose the option that will help your long-term healing the most.

My goal is to help you see your options and make your best choices

I think the underlying theme of my entire blog is this idea of choice and a focus on finding your own appropriate healing path.

I love understanding systems well enough to be able to define its positive points and its flaws, and finding ways to work with, through, and around these flaws—to be able to make the most of the situation, however imperfect it is.

I’ve fallen before, found the holes by tripping on them, and have absorbed other people’s stories of missteps and unintentionally triggered traps.

It’s not a full map of how to get through, but it can be a useful guide to help you to recognize the quicksand, avoid the worst of the mire, and have a better idea of where the solid ground might be.

Please, use my experience to help you have an easier journey than I did, and when you can, share what you’ve learned so that those who follow you have an even better understanding!

What I want to do, what I hope to do, what I try to do in everything I produce is point out the flaws that exist and the tools to help you find a solution anyway. While my solution may not be yours, the tools I used to find them are likely to help you.

two people consult a topographic map, with a clear compass.  The view is close-up, with only the hands and a torso visible.
While I can’t guarentee the topography of your path, I can teach you about the symbology so you can see the warning signs and plan your journey accordingly.

This is why I often write about the struggles I’ve faced—not to instruct you on how to do what I do, but instead to share the tools I’ve found and how I used them to get to my truth and my solution.

I want to give you these tools so that you can apply them to your challenges and find the right or best solution for you. I keep trying to find new and better ways to explain the challenges, share the tools, and help you find your best solution.

My newest step in that direction is coming up soon. It’s a talk I’ll be giving called Taking ownership of your medical care: writing your own prescription for better health.

I invite you to join me for it! In it, I’ll be talking about the tools you can use to analyze your own medical care challenge and find your own best solutions to the challenges in front of you!

I’ll also announce a one-time-only offer that I’ll present at that talk. I hope you can make it!

pintrest image: In the upper left corner of the picture is the Thriving While Disabled logo, while the upper half is a picture of sunrise, with the sillhuitte of a road sign with multiple directional arrows pointing away. . The lower half of image reads 'Learning to pivot: recogniing your choices with greatest impact'',
Pinterest image: In the upper left corner of the picture is the Thriving While Disabled logo, while the upper half is a picture of the sunrise, with the silhouette of a road sign with multiple directional arrows pointing away. . The lower half of the image reads ‘Learning to pivot: recognizing your choices with the greatest impact”,

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2 Comments

  1. I guess we don’t realise how many ways we can help ourselves and that’s where you step in and become so very helpful. I love your emphasis on mindset management which is such an important constant to have that allows people then to make better decisions on the other areas/ways you speak about.

    1. There are lots of ways for us to help ourselves, it really is about that combination of deciding to do so and having the spoons to carry it out! I try to help folks get there by suggesting ways to manage energy and think through best next steps for them.
      Mindset is so important – with a realistic set of expectations and a positive attitude, so much can be accomplished!

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