Approximately 25% of Americans suffer from at least one or two chronic conditions. A chronic condition is an illness or disease that lasts for longer than three months and will likely be a part of your life until you die. Chronic conditions can be caused by different things like genetic predispositions or lifestyle choices. There are many different chronic diseases and they can mostly be treated either to reduce pain and manage symptoms or to attempt to rectify the conditions of the disease and possibly reduce the severity.
Some types of chronic diseases include diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, blood pressure problems, heart conditions, cholesterol problems, arthritis, endometriosis, epilepsy, obesity, osteoporosis, depression, etc.
When a doctor tells you that you have a chronic disease it is not a death sentence. You can live a long and happy life in most cases. Obviously, there are exceptions especially with cancer and HIV/AIDS where patients often don’t have a good prognosis. However, no matter what the prognosis or what the doctors say, you must keep on living and do things to help you live with your illness or disease.
Work closely with your physician. Your physician is your primary care provider and even though you may need specialist help, your physician will likely coordinate all your care and treatments. He can prescribe the necessary medications and advise you on what lifestyle changes you need to make to help your body get better. You can also request that he check in with your other healthcare providers so they and you can all be on the same page when it comes to your conditions, treatments, and progress.
Be smart with your medications. If you only have one pill to take everyday, that’s not so bad. When you need to take more than one, it is wise to get organized. You can approach it in different ways. Make a list of your medications, what they’re for, how much you must take, and what time of the day. Make sure to indicate if there are medications that you mustn’t take together because they will cancel each other out or make you sick. Make use of pill dividers, lists, and other such tools to make sure you don’t take a daily dose twice or forget to take your medication.
Involve your family in your lifestyle changes. Changing your lifestyle and what you do and eat can be very challenging. You can absolutely do it, but you will need to be strong and persevere. The whole process will be easier when you have support from family and friends. Invite them to join you in your lifestyle changes. Most of the things that you will need to change are good for most people whether they have a disease or not. So, it will benefit everyone and make your life changes easier to cope with.
Take personal care seriously. Personal care refers to giving yourself a timeout and get away from the world, your condition, and responsibilities. People have different ways of treating themselves and giving themselves a break. Some ideas you can try include going for a massage, reading a good book, taking a bubble bath, going for a dance lesson, gardening, painting, meditating, writing, walking on the beach, etc. Anything that you do where you are taking care of your soul and mental health is personal care and it is essential for you to successfully live with a chronic disease.
Take note of symptoms of depression. Many people suffering from a chronic condition of some kind report feelings of depression. It is normal. Dealing with pain, judgements, exhaustion, etc. on a daily basis is draining and can make one have dark thoughts and feel depressed and alone. You can stop depression from taking over by noticing the signs early and taking action. Tell your doctor as soon as you notice signs of feeling down and alone for long periods of time or changes in your sleeping and eating patterns.
Keep healthy habits. Your body may be sick but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help it get better or at least be as healthy as it can be. All the normal health tips are relevant. Eat the right foods, drink lots of water, get exercise everyday, and sleep enough. These things are important for everyone and especially for you. If you keep the body healthy in every way you can, you will have more energy, feel better, look better, and potentially help your body to heal itself. You never know what can happen.
Learn to ask for help.Us humans aren’t always so good with asking for help. However, when you have a chronic condition that can at times take over your life, you need to learn to ask for help. When you need help with preparing food, going to the store, or running other errands, ask your friends and family. If something feels wrong or you feel bad, go to your doctor and ask for help. When you’re having a really bad day and the pain or loneliness is getting to you, call your best friend or your mom and ask for help.
Listen to your body. Our bodies tell us what they need all the time. We just don’t listen. They know when they need exercise or extra vitamins or a break. With a chronic condition, you have to learn to pay attention to what your body is saying. This will help you to be prepared when pain comes and it will help you notice when something isn’t right. Your body will tell you what it needs.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are allowed to have bad days. You are allowed to feel lonely sometimes. You are allowed to feel bad. Allow yourself these feelings and a bad day when things overwhelm you but don’t let it take over. You can even make a rule for yourself where you are allowed to wallow and cry and eat ice cream and feel bad for 10 minutes or two hours or a day if that’s what you need. When that time is over, however, you become your positive fighter self again.
You can live successfully with a chronic disease. Yes, many things may have to change and you will have to deal with new and difficult things, but you can handle it. As long as you follow these tips and don’t isolate yourself from the world and loved ones, your path ahead will be bright.