I need to be better about respecting my physical limitations

The struggle to find a balance between completing tasks and not overdoing it

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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Even though I’m aware of my physical limitations, I’m often bad about respecting them when doing so would keep me from completing the task at hand. I’m probably a good Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) patient in the sense that I stay as active as possible. But on the flip side, I can also be a terrible one because I blow past my limitations when they frustrate me and pay for it later. I need to be better about finding balance.

Over the years I’ve noticed that certain things are almost guaranteed to cause me problems. I’m very aware of patterns, both in my daily life and in regards to my EDS. One reason I can quickly tell if something’s wrong with one of the animals in my care is because I know their usual routines, so it’s clear to me if they deviate from it. At the high school where I do college counseling, I can see patterns among the students who tend to be successful at various colleges, which helps me to advise them.

I’ve also learned which activities my body handles well, and which ones are likely to cause soreness. I mentally track when I become sore, and over the years I’ve created a list of chores and types of movements that tend to cause me problems.

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An illustration of a physical therapist stretching a patient's leg.

Signs of nervous system dysfunction common in hEDS, HDS

For example, I struggled for years to make chocolate chip cookies because stirring the chips into the stiff dough by hand always caused me severe shoulder pain. So I began to experiment. Could I perform the task in a less detrimental way? I started trying different types of spoons to see if that helped. Nope.

Then I tried different movements, and I found that it was the circular pattern of stirring the dough that seemed to be the problem. If I used straight strokes across the batter instead of a circular motion, I didn’t get the same shooting pain afterward. Win!

While this may seem like a silly example, it demonstrates how EDS can affect my daily decisions. In this case, I found a simple solution to a small but painful problem through trial and error. But if I hadn’t, would I have stopped making cookies? Honestly, probably not. For me, the temptation of yummy cookies outweighed the temporary discomfort of making them. But not all of my decisions are so innocuous.

Life with EDS is a constant balancing act. Sometimes I miscalculate and get it wrong, and other times I close my eyes, plow forward, and hope the consequences aren’t too painful. While ignoring my physical limitations can lead to a pain flare or soreness, I’m lucky that the pain typically isn’t debilitating. EDS is so wide-ranging in terms of symptoms and severity, and I fully recognize that my experience isn’t the case for everyone with the condition.

I really should be better about respecting my limits, unless it’s a situation where something needs to be done and no one else is available to help. I always advocate for others to respect their limits and not feel badly about doing so. But it’s time for me to start doing the same!

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Laurie Rundles avatar

Laurie Rundles

I can so relate to your comment about pushing your limits ,I too have Ehlers DanLos syndrome and I am struggling here with the same issue I am so hard headed and stubborn I will plow right through whatever it is I am doing and pay the price for it severely need to find myself a happy medium ,I pray that things get easier for us take care of yourself always

Rick avatar


24/7 nausea after inguinal hernia repair. Nausea started with the intital tear (unrepaired), positional changes while prone triggered very bad nausea. I thought repairing wouild help but it has not at all, likely worsened the nausea. Now going on 9 months stratght with no relief. Drugs do not help only chewing raw ginger helps and that only lasts about 20 minutes at best.

When I read about EDS many people experience nausea, so maybe mine has nothing to do with the surgery or the tear but it's pretty darn coincidental if that's the case since I never had nausea previously. Not sure who (MD>?) to see about this. Surgeon is of no help, GI doc said it's not the GI.

Amena avatar


Geez, I posted this comment after reading just the first paragraph. That fits me to a T. It’s so hard not to push when I’m the only one around to do what needs to be done.
Pacing! And bracing!


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