Archive for inspirational talk

How to get things done… when you live with an auto-immune disorder

As many of you are aware, I was born with debilitating chronic diseases. The last decade or so, these diseases have been fairly active, making normal tasks very challenging. Any given day, I can be saddled with extreme fatigue, terrible gut pain, dizziness or confusion from the medication, and a whole host of other issues that simply make me want to curl in a corner and not move.

Unfortunately, life moves on, and if I don’t at least attempt to move with it, I will be left behind. I want to make my mark on this world, and after 41 years, I’ve come to learn that if I wait until I “feel well” nothing gets done. So then, how do I find the tenacity to push through the pain in order to accomplish the things that I have?

I’ve put together my steps and I hope you will find them helpful, too. These are great steps for anybody, even without disease, but they are helpful for me, especially on days when I’d rather just give up.

But first, I must recognize that I do have a disease. This is my reality. I know I cannot accomplish the same level as able bodied, well people can. And I must be okay with that. Thus, I must be intentional about scheduling rest, or else I will burn out quickly.

And speaking of rest, that’s how I’ll begin.

  1. It starts with the chair. I have an easy chair that is very comfortable. I’ll sit in the chair and I will close my eyes and I’ll take some time to pre-rest. I’ll take slow deep breaths, try and relax, and I might use the occasion to pray.
  2. Next comes the list. Once my mind and my body have come to a calmer place (when you are in pain, there is no such thing as pure calm place), I then start thinking about everything that I need to get completed. I think about client deadlines, work around the house, school lectures I need to prep, etc. I’ll put everything down on a mental list. Sometimes I’ll even write them down on an actual list. Then I make an evaluation of my current physical and mental state. I’ll separate the list by things that must be done by today and things I can get done vs things that I cannot complete today because I’m either too sick, or too mentally fogged to work on them.
  3. Now comes the choice. After narrowing down the list I select the one item that I feel makes the most sense to work on. It is usually some sort of perfect combination between highest priority and what I can actually physically do.
  4. Visualizing the task. I mentioned extreme fatigue is often one of my symptoms. At the time I make the selection, I often still do not feel like I have the energy to accomplish the task. That’s okay. This next step is very crucial in helping me get my work completed. I close my eyes and I visualize doing the entire activity. First I visualize getting out of the chair. Then I visualize gathering the materials I need, then sitting down and completing the activity, and then, of course clean up. I go through all of it in my mind first, eyes closed, on the easy chair, trying to be as detailed as I can as I imagine myself doing it.
  5. Getting up and doing it. After I finish visualizing it, I’ll take a few more deep breaths, and then I’ll peel myself out of the easy chair and I start doing the things I just visualized doing. Because I feel like I had already just done this activity, the mental strain of the task seems partially resolved, making the physical part of it slightly easier. Now as I go about grabbing my materials, working on the task, cleaning up, etc., it feels more like a familiar rhythm. This helps remove a slight edge from the task, making it just a little bit easier to achieve.
  6. When I finish, I collapse back into my easy chair, but now with a sense of accomplishment, knowing I was able to get something done. This final step is recovery, and depending on how sick I just happen to be on that day, that may take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. But when recovery is finished, I’ll be ready to go back to the beginning and start the process all over again.

I hope this gives you at least a little insight into my life, and perhaps helps yours. I’ve had several people ask me how I’m able to get things done being as debilitated as I am. I finally was able to sit down and put it all down. Thank you for your support as well. The prayers and well wishes of friends are, no doubt, a powerful motivator.

A Liver Transplant Journey

On March, 30 2017, Benjamin Hummel gave a candid talk about dealing with life long chronic illness, which includes ulcerated colitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis, the two transplants that it resulted and his art journey during that process. This inspirational, and sometimes humorous, talk was presented to the students and faculty of the illustration department at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Below is a video of that talk.