The Transferable Skill of Gutsiness

In the world of employment and job seeking, transferable skills are universal abilities that can be applied to different jobs/occupations regardless of the type of work.  Some examples might be organizational skills, customer service or communication skills, and leadership skills.  Possessing transferable skills and the creativity with which to employ them in a variety of situations is often the very qualification which will earn a job seeker that new sparkly job they’ve been hoping for!

You might be wondering what a job-seeker’s skillset has to do with our being gutsy or managing chronic illness?  A lot, actually!  Last year on my other blog, I wrote a post about what it means to be “gutsy”.  I believe that the very qualifications that make a person “gutsy” as they deal with chronic illness can be applied to not just fighting GI disorders or CRPS, but to successfully reaching many goals in life because most of these qualifications  are based on a person’s character – self-control, gratitude, bravery, determination, honesty, responsibility, etc.  We may not be able to control the disease processes we endure, but we are empowered with the ability to control our reactions to them and to make decisions that either bring health or harm to ourselves and those around us.

Here’s my definition of the qualifications that make a person Gutsy. 

A gusty person will:

  •  Face the reality of how their symptoms are impacting every aspect of their live and the lives of those around them…and then seek help.  (Admitting there is a problem can be half the battle.)
  •  “Keep it real” and speak factually about what they are going through while inviting other people into their life as part of their support network.
  • Willingly seek out information and make educated decisions about their own personal health care.
  • Accept responsibility for themselves and their healthcare, as well as the hard work it will take to improve their health.  Nobody cares as much about our health as we do.
  • Establish practical short- and longterm goals to improve or maintain their health.
  • Become confident in listening to his/her own body, interpreting its  needs versus its unhelpful cravings (wants) and making decisions that lead to reaching their goals.
  • Be courageous in honestly confronting and answering the questions that come up when living with a chronic (often invisible) disease.
  • Learn who their loyal friends are and are not.
  • Make it through the day despite the pain, fighting to hold on and to do daily tasks and socialize despite the payback afterwards (of course discernment is helpful here – moderation in all things).
  • Try something new, and when it doesn’t go well, they will revise the plan and TRY AGAIN…and AGAIN…and AGAIN, personifying courageous perseverance.
  • Gutsy people have the tenacity to chase after gratitude, dive after it and catch it by the heel if need be!  Gutsy people will do whatever it takes to find something to be grateful for, even when it *feels* like all is lost and the pain will never end.  We’re talking about gutsy gratitude – determined, bold, sincere-spirited GRATITUDE!

I’ve decided to use this list to help me determine how well I’m coping and living with this new diagnosis of CRPS/RSD.  Am I coping well? = Am I gutsy?  Nuttin’ like a little self-application, eh? 

  • Face the reality of how their symptoms are impacting every aspect of their live and the lives of those around them…and then seek help.  (Admitting there is a problem can be half the battle.)
    This has been really hard for me.  I’ve wanted to hide and pretend all of this isn’t happening and I don’t have that dreaded CRPS.  But the fact is that I’m not hiding, as evidenced by this blog, and my seeking help through doctors, friends, family, and my church.

     

  •  “Keep it real” and speak factually about what they are going through while inviting other people into their life as part of their support network.
    More than times past, I feel I’ve been quite open with this battle, perhaps at the risk of scaring friends away.  I’ve tried to nix the drama and keep it factual, and not be too “needy” of others, remembering that they have lives outside of helping me.

     

  • Willingly seek out information and make educated decisions about their own personal health care.
    Ah, the wonders of the internet for those who have rare diseases!  I’m balancing my need for information with my need for rest and a “mental health break”.  I’ve been putting together a binder of research papers and treatment guidelines and reading as I have time so that I can’t claim I didn’t know out of ignorance.
  • Accept responsibility for themselves and their healthcare, as well as the hard work it will take to improve their health.  Nobody cares as much about our health as we do.
    Starting biofeedback on April 3rd, trying to get a nerve block set up, making necessary phone calls to manage appointments with multiple specialists, and I already completed Round 1 of Physical Therapy.

     

  • Establish practical short- and longterm goals to improve or maintain their health.
    It’s all right here.  J  I’d like to get a few more measurable goals on board but I’m giving myself a few weeks to get there.  Picking a few rather than, say, 50 at a time, isn’t easy for me!  Haha.

     

  • Become confident in listening to his/her own body, interpreting its  needs versus its unhelpful cravings (wants) and making decisions that lead to reaching their goals.
    It will take some time to develop my 6th sense when it comes to what my legs need/want.  So I cut myself some slack here.  I may start a pain journal to track changes and activities.

     

  • Be courageous in honestly confronting and answering the questions that come up when living with a chronic (often invisible) disease.
    I am courageously honest in my answers here about how I’m managing this new bump in the road.  Sometimes I shy away from questions I have, not quite ready for the answers.  Perhaps this will come also in time?

     

  • Learn who their loyal friends are and are not.
    I’ve got my bases covered.  🙂

  • Make it through the day despite the pain, fighting to hold on and to do daily tasks and socialize despite the payback afterwards (of course discernment is helpful here – moderation in all things).
    It may not be pretty, but I am still alive even though I have no desire to KICK anything!  When I do have dark thoughts, I address them and use my DBT skills to refocus on something better.

     

  • Try something new, and when it doesn’t go well, they will revise the plan and TRY AGAIN…and AGAIN…and AGAIN, personifying courageous perseverance.
    Many of the treatments on my list to try are new and if they don’t work, I’ll keep fighting to find something that does.

     

  • Gutsy people have the tenacity to chase after gratitude, dive after it and catch it by the heel if need be!  Gutsy people will do whatever it takes to find something to be grateful for, even when it *feels* like all is lost and the pain will never end.  We’re talking about gutsy gratitude – determined, bold, sincere-spirited GRATITUDE!
    I am grateful to know that God is with me through it all and that He will not let me go.  I also feel very blessed when I realize that, despite having CRPS for the last 10 years without diagnosis or treatment, my condition had not progressed further than it was until quite recently.  I’m happy that I can still enjoy little things like my lava lamp (it’s lava-ing as I type), funky colored nail polish, my part-time job, Contra dancing from my wheelchair, the songbirdies at my bird feeder (I’m not so grateful for those glutinous and messy squirrels, however!), the hearty spring flowers in my planter pots, my awesome friends, the joy of sunshine. 

So, HOW ABOUT YOU?  Are you living Gutsy? 

How many ways can you think of to apply these transferable skills of gutsy living to your everyday life and goals? 

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4 thoughts on “The Transferable Skill of Gutsiness

  1. Heh! Yeah, I do gutsy, too. Tis a good approach 😉
    Love your blog hon, well written and informative with that personal touch, great stuff. I’m sure many other fellow patients will love your blog, too xoxox
    Cheering you on, from me, xx

  2. Elle,
    I sure have met some amazing people as I begin to untangle this CRPS mystery. I found one support group (a closed group) on Facebook that is especially encouraging; the members are all very supportive, helpful, and just genuinely caring for each other. It takes an amazing amount of strength to make it through this kind of pain every day, and I know for myself that any and all strength in me comes from God. So I just kinda marvel as I watch others endure.

    By the way, keep it real and keep it gutsy! ;D You rock!

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