The first question you might be asking is: what exactly is chronic illness? To answer that, it might first be easier to explain what acute illness is – it’s the flu, colds, infection, or essentially any illness that you expect to clear up, leaving you as good as new afterwards. Chronic illness doesn’t clear up in the same way – chronic illnesses are conditions that you live with, often for the rest of your life. This might include arthritis, asthma, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Getting a diagnosis of a chronic disease can be a big shock, but once the dust has settled, there are ways that you can deal with your condition in your everyday life.
Consult With Your Doctor
Make sure you listen to all your doctor’s advice on how to manage your condition. They will tell you when you need to take your medication and they will be able to refer you to various specialists so that you can take care of yourself completely. Listen to what they tell you to do even outside of specific medical items like medication – they might advise things like quitting smoking and alcohol, improving your diet, and exercising more, and these are all things that you should consider.
As much as you should listen to your doctor, you also need to make sure that you take responsibility for your own health. Your team of doctors might not be communicating with each other as well as they could, so make sure that you take your own notes. A good primary care physician might be necessary to make sure that everything is coordinated well together. You should also make sure that you listen carefully to your body. If anything changes, make a note of it. Track your blood pressure, weigh yourself, chart your symptoms. This will aid medical professionals next time you seek help from them.
What people don’t tell you is that having a chronic illness takes up a lot of time and headspace, so it’s important that you stay as organised as possible. This means taking a few moments out of your life to ensure that the next steps for future you are as easy as possible. Little things like preparing your bag the night before a hospital appointment and putting your medication into pill boxes so you don’t have to sort it out every day will make your life a lot easier in the long run. You can also do things like online prescriptions – if you are thinking ‘I wonder if I can manage my medication online’, the answer is yes – you can do it from the comfort of your own sofa.
Stay Healthy In All Areas Of Your Life
If you’re suffering from a chronic condition, you may think that you only need to focus on that but the truth is that you need to stay healthy in all areas of your life, as much as you can. Nobody’s saying that you have to go out and run a marathon while chugging a protein shake, but you need to make sure that you keep moving and active. Going for a walk every day or doing some armchair yoga if you’re a little more immobile is a great way to do that. If you suffer from chronic pain, why not try swimming? Because it doesn’t put any pressure on your joints, it won’t increase your pain levels, but it will increase your stamina and your fitness. It’s also a good idea to eat as much healthy food as possible. Leafy greens are a great idea, as are other items of fruit and vegetables. If you have limited movement in your hands, don’t worry – buy pre-prepared food like chopped up carrot sticks and pre-peeled oranges. It’s true that they have a lot of packaging and single use plastic but this can often be recycled and your health is important.
Get A Therapist
Having a chronic illness can be very difficult for your mental halth, so it’s important that you talk to a therapist. Although you may feel that you’re fine talking to your family and friends about what’s happening, they aren’t medically trained and they won’t be able to provide you with solutions that will help you handle your condition and your mental health. Finding coping strategies is crucial and therapists can help you with that: you may find that the world seems a lot less worrying and bleak after talking to one.
Dealing with a chronic condition can be demoralising and difficult but these tips should help you lead a happy, healthy life.
Contributed blog from Sasha Halliday