Image of Alison sitting on a wooden bench, leaning over with her elbow on her knew and chin in her palm. Background grass-green with white text for the blog title

Shifting from Surviving to Thriving with a Little Help

teal line drawing of lotus flower

Alison Hayes is one of the wonderful people I’ve met through groups like Chronic Illness Social Pod which is a group of bloggers who live with chronic illness and write to promote awareness and understanding for what it’s like to live with chronic illness. Through helping one another to get their message out, we read each other’s posts and get to know one another quite quickly. Through that connection, friendships grow.

I have come to admire Alison at first due to the wealth of knowledge she shares with the focus of THRIVING WHILE DISABLED, but beyond that, I’ve come to know her kind soul who loves to go for walks in nature and help others in whatever way she is able. For those of us living with chronic pain, often things can feel just too difficult to wade through.

As I am considering applying for disability due to struggling to work on any consistent basis. (While I am officially retired, I hadn’t planned on retiring just yet, and on retiring, I had also planned to work part-time to earn extra income until I turn 65.) However, the process of applying seems pretty daunting.

After learning about Alison’s studies in the US welfare system and the experience she has gathered by navigating the labyrinth both for herself and for her partner, Al after his accidents, I approached her to share the coaching services that she offers. Her goal is to help others thrive by getting the support they need without feeling overwhelmed or degraded through the process.

I hope that you will find some helpful information from what she shares. I encourage you to explore the links to her posts that she’s provided for the topics you would like more information. They offer great insight and resources.

Guest post written by Alison Hayes of thrivingwhiledisabled.com.

Living with Chronic Pain and Disability

I know that chronic pain can be debilitating. Until my migraines started last year, I didn’t have much personal experience with it.  I have spent the last 20 years living with Functional Neurological Disorder(FND), which in my case primarily expresses as muscle jerks and movement symptoms.

My partner’s chronic pain journey had started in 2012 when he was in a car accident and was left with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  To this day he has a headache at all times, though he doesn’t always notice it anymore. In 2017, he slipped and shattered his acetabulum(the hip joint and largest bone in the body), so that residual pain tends to be worse. 

Basically, if he notices his headache, that usually means his hip pain is relatively low.

I know that pain can make it more difficult to concentrate, to make decisions, to think things through clearly. 

It makes it harder to think ahead and harder to find joy.  It often leads to sleep issues and other challenges.

I can’t solve pain, but I am able to do is support you in managing those major life decisions that can be so hard for people who aren’t dealing with chronic illness to understand.

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The Purpose of Thriving While Disabled

Alison took a long and winding road to get to where she knew she had to create her blog Thriving While Disabled.
However, each of her stops has prepared her to help others living with disabilities thrive.

I created my blog, Thriving While Disabled, with a goal of helping other disabled people to create and live their best possible lives by solving the problems that most interfere with their quality of life – and to help folks regain control over as much of their lives as possible.

A Partner in Getting the Medical Care You Need

One set of experiences that I offer a lot of guidance on is managing your own medical care.  While most of us have learned, painfully, through trial and error, about our conditions, diagnosis, and treatment, I offer up my experiences to guide folks towards a path of better primary care physicians, better treatment, and more accurate diagnoses. 

I think it’s vital to find doctors you can actually work with, and make sure that your doctor gets the most accurate picture possible. To do that, you need to understand your condition, testing, and treatment well enough that you know when you need to get a second opinion, and when your doctor is really able to help you.

I’m also now offering coaching services for people on this front – so if you’re dealing with a complex medical choice or are struggling with finding the right specialists, or otherwise need somebody slightly more objective who can help you through a really challenging medical situation – I’m available to help you!

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Financial Support

I also know that another big issue with more complex or severe medical issues, is that we often find ourselves also facing economic hardship and often may lose employment.

I have been living on Social Security Disability Insurance for the past 16 years, and know the good, bad and ugly about it.  

I’ve done the research and gathered knowledge over the years, and I feel confident enough in my understanding of those programs and the social welfare system for low-income folks that I’m happy to help guide others towards finding and applying for the right programs for them. 

The decision to apply for disability coverage isn’t an easy one, and the process is long and can be tiring. 

However, the comfort of having a reliable and steady source of income can be huge, and if you aren’t able to work regularly, and that is unlikely to improve, it may be worth the time and effort to find a new reliable source of income for yourself. 

Having started two businesses myself, I’m also comfortable helping others to understand how to work while maintaining their benefits, whether it is for an employer or self-employment. 

Alison explains how she can help you thrive by getting you the resources you need.

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Daily Life Resources

Pain management is important, and being able to get the appropriate medication and treatment are an important part of that. I want to help you make sure that if you’re eligible for the support, you get it. Whether it’s health insurance, like Medicare or Medicaid, food, heating and utility assistance, or the financial supports of Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance, I want to help you find and get the supports you need so that you have that bit less stress in your life.

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Living Your Best Life

Many of us have stress-related conditions, which means that as our stress levels increase, so do our symptoms.  I want to help others reduce their stress, so that it’s easier to live a better life.

Besides the stress of medical care and the stress of survival, I know that many of us struggle with mindset, attitude and expectations. I’ve found that the more mindful I am, the better I can manage my stresses. 

I do what I can to exercise, eat better, meditate regularly and focus on consistently taking good care of myself. 

I want to help others do the same. 

I know that we live in a world full of accessibility challenges, so much of it is a struggle, but we all deserve to be happy.

You deserve to find or create a quality life for yourself.  I want you to succeed and if I can help you – it’s my pleasure to do so!

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My coaching and online courses are all created with protecting your mental health firmly in mind, so expect that any course I teach will include references to mental health or self-care. I hope you are able to take that next step in your life(whatever it might be for you), to get one step closer to thriving!


Thriving While Disabled Courses: