Sick & Tired : Chapter 5

“Running the Yellow Light”

Preparation: Read Chapter Five this week.
After reading, begin answering the questions at the end of the chapter. I will list the questions at the end of this post. We invite you to share your insights and experiences, and how you responded to the questions. We will encourage one another in the process. You may have chronic illness(es), but you do not have to bear them alone. Let’s be here for one another.

Note: Except for quotes in italics, words in the post are Marie’s.

Okay, ‘fess up. How many of you have taken on way too many activities when you were feeling better, only to pay later with pain and disability? Guilty here.

Most of us have heard of the Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. She narrates a personal story and analogy of what it is like to live with sickness or a disability, and uses spoons to explain how people with chronic illness have to make choices about our activities, based on our store of energy.
You can read Christine’s “Spoon Theory” here:

Even when we KNOW the cost ahead of time, we still want to ignore our energy levels and pretend, for a time, that we live normal lives with freedom to participate, serve, travel, host, vacation, shop, handle housekeeping responsibilities, school activities, and so on. These are the things we used to be able to do with ease. So we may choose to spend ourselves at the cost of our health. And that cost can be exhorbitant in terms of pain and suffering.

So what should we do when we are at the intersection of deciding whether to push through the warning signals our body is sending, or slow down and consider the cost. How about you? What do you do?

In chapter five, author Kimberly Rae speaks of these warning signals as “Yellow Lights”.

“I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve chosen to ‘push through’, to keep going and hope my symptoms somehow fixed themselves, or I’ve mentally argued with myself, trying to decide if I’m making it up, trying to get attention, or just jumping the gun before things really needed to be dealt with.”

“I am now at the point where, when I see a yellow light, not only do I slow down, but sometimes I even pull over to the side of the road – symptomatically speaking – so I can make sure the brakes work before I get to the intersection.”

“My point is, our bodies were made with a phenomenal amount of intricate and amazing functions, and when one, or several, of those functions stops working as they should, the body very resourcefully gives us a message. The message is usually in the form of something unpleasant, like pain, to let us know something needs to change. Something is wrong. If we ignore these warning signs, the body will send more and more signals, more and more pain, until something important shuts down and we have big-time problems.”

“In the same way, symptoms should be respected. They are trying to help us effectively respond to what our bodies need at the moment. Don’t ignore them. Don’t hope they will go away on their own. Just slow down and stop if need be, until you assess or deal with the problem.”

Group Study Questions

To make reading easier, kindly refer to the question number when commenting.

1. Are you a risk taker by nature, or more cautious?

2. When you feel symptoms, which way is closest to your natural reaction?
– Ignore them and they’ll go away.
– Anger this is happening and refusing to respond to the symptoms.
– Panic that a serious and dangerous problem is coming.
– Pop a pill and move on.
– Jump on the internet and do research, or call a doctor.
– Medicine fixes everything – give me more.

3. Do you think symptoms are a good thing? What might happen if we didn’t have any?


Start a record of your different symptoms. A calendar is a good way to record how you’re feeling and when. Mark how you dealt with them and the result. Then the next time they happen, you can go back and check what worked and what didn’t.

One thought on “Sick & Tired : Chapter 5

  1. 1. I have never been a risk taker. I’m a researcher, and make decisions after very careful consideration.

    2. At this point, when I experience familiar symptoms, I tend to ignore them, knowing there are no cures and very few relief options. If I have a new symptom, my first reaction is to research online. Only after this do I consider calling the doctor.

    3. This is an interesting question. Are symptoms a good thing? I suppose if I didn’t have any, I wouldn’t miss them. (joke) Multiple Sclerosis symptoms can be so varied and quirky, that many times it’s difficult to determine if the symptoms are caused by MS or another underlying condition. For example, in the last year or so, I have become acutely sensitive to noise. Noise actually causes sharp pain deep in the ear canal. I thought it had something to do with my hearing aids. When the audiologist tested my hearing, she told me I have a very narrow band of tolerance for noise, confirming what I had been feeling. Sadly, she could not adjust my hearing aids to help with the problem. So, following my usual pattern, I researched on the internet. I found out that the condition is called Hyperacusis, and, guess what? One of the causes can be Multiple Sclerosis. Sigh…

    In the early years before MS diagnosis, I began recording my symptoms on a calendar. I found it helpful, but it was another document to carry around. I already used a daily/weekly/monthly planner, so I started recording my symptoms in the planner, using a different color ink or highlighter to make them stand out. I can’t tell you how helpful this has been when I need documentation for doctors or medical records. Because I was a teacher, I used an academic planner (July-July). I like this particular one because my symptoms carry over from one year to the next and because there are monthly and weekly yellow sections where I can record notes. Here is a link if you are interested:

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