LIVING WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS – WHAT DOES THIS ACTUALLY MEAN?…

What does living with a chronic illness actually mean?

A chronic illness is an illness that is persistent and long lasting. It is a permanent illness/condition that may not be life threatening in the foreseeable future, but it’s something you will have to suffer from and live with. The chances are there is no cure for it but you will control it with a cocktail of remedies from drugs to alternative therapies.

Some chronic illnesses get worse over time, and others come and go over months or years. There are lots of different chronic illnesses, and each has different causes and symptoms. Some examples are:

  • epilepsy
  • asthma
  • cystic fibrosis
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • depression and other mental health issues
  • Fibromyalgia

Chronic illness can also influence your ability to work. Morning stiffness, decreased range of motion, and other physical limitations may force you to change your work activities and environment. A decreased ability to work may also lead to financial problems.

As you learn more about your illness and how to take care of yourself, your feelings may change. Fear or shock may give way to anger because you have an illness. You may feel sad or depressed because you may not be able to live the way you used to live.

Chronic or long-term illness and its treatment pose special problems. You need to learn how to:

  • live with the physical effects of the illness
  • deal with the treatments
  • make sure there is clear communication with doctors
  • maintain emotional balance to cope with negative feelings
  • maintain confidence and a positive self-image

When you’re living with a long-term condition, it can be helpful to learn everything you can about your symptoms and treatment options. Ask your doctor specific questions about your condition, but don’t stop there.

Your local library and patient associations for specific conditions are excellent resources for increasing your knowledge base. You can also find information online, although some sources are more accurate and reliable than others. Join a support group either online or at your local hospital. Support groups can help in so many ways that it’s definitely worth finding one for your condition.

Here are 10 helpful strategies from Harvard Health for coping with a chronic condition.

  • Get a prescription for information. The more you know about your condition, the better equipped you’ll be to understand what’s happening and why. First direct your questions to your doctor or nurse. If you want to do more in-depth research, ask them about trusted sources of medical information on the Web.
  • Make your doctor a partner in care. We’d put this one more bluntly: Take responsibility for your care, and don’t leave everything to your doctor. One way to do this is to listen to your body and track its changes. If you have hypertension, learn to check your blood pressure. If your heart has rhythm problems, check your pulse. For heart failure, weigh yourself every day and chart your symptoms. This kind of home monitoring lets you spot potentially harmful changes before they bloom into real trouble.
  • Build a team. Doctors don’t have all the answers. Seek out the real experts. A nurse might be a better resource for helping you stop smoking or start exercising. You’ll get the best nutrition information from a dietitian.
  • Coordinate your care. In an ideal world, the specialists you see for your heart, your diabetes, and your arthritis would talk with each other every now and then about your medical care. In the real world, this doesn’t usually happen. A primary care physician can put the pieces together to make sure your treatments are good for the whole you.
  • Make a healthy investment in yourself. Part of the treatment for almost any chronic condition involves lifestyle changes. You know the ones we mean — stopping smoking, losing weight, exercising more, and shifting to healthier eating habits. Although these steps are sometimes relegated to the back burner, they shouldn’t be. The people who make such changes are more likely to successfully manage a chronic condition than those who don’t. Investing the time and energy to make healthy changes usually pays handsome dividends, ranging from feeling better to living longer.
  • Make it a family affair. The lifestyle changes you make to ease a chronic condition such as high cholesterol or heart disease are good for almost everyone. Instead of going it alone, invite family members or friends to join in.
  • Manage your medications. Remembering to take one pill a day is tough; managing 10 or more is daunting. Knowing about the drugs you take — why you take them, how best to take them, and what problems to watch out for — is as important as learning about your condition. Talking with your doctor, nurse, or a pharmacist can put drug information into perspective.
  • Beware of depression. Dark, dreary moods plague a third or more of people with chronic diseases. Depression can keep you from taking important medications, seeing your doctor when you need to, or pursuing healthy habits. Read up on the signs of depression. Let your doctor know if you think you’re depressed or heading in that direction.
  • Reach out. Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals aren’t always the best reservoir for information about what it’s like to recover from open-heart surgery or live with heart failure. To get the real scoop, look for a support group in your area and talk with people who have been through what you are facing.
  • Plan for end-of-life decisions. If the diagnosis of a chronic condition, or life with one, has you thinking about death, channel those thoughts to the kind of care you want at the end of your life. Spelling out whether you want the most aggressive care until the very end, or whether you’d prefer hospice care and a do-not-resuscitate order, can save you and your loved ones a lot of confusion and anguish later on.

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BUY CHRISTMAS GIFTS THAT KEEP GIVING SOMETHING BACK…

What could be better than giving someone their independence this Christmas? Well, that’s exactly what daily living aids are designed to do.

You might have a grandparent who’s finding it increasingly difficult to walk unaided. Perhaps you have a friend who is differently abled? Or maybe you know someone who has just left hospital and will be recuperating at home over the festive period.

From larger equipment, such as rollators, to nifty gadgets, like jar openers and grabbers, daily living aids come in all shapes and sizes with the aim to make everyday tasks that little bit easier.

The best thing is that most daily living aids are now designed to fit seamlessly into a modern environment, with a contemporary look and feel, making them perfect Christmas gifts for your friends and family.

NRS Healthcare have put together a handy gift guide which you can browse through to decide what equipment may help a loved one who could do with some help. Just click on this link for the brochure.

NRS Healthcare is a award winning member of the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) and abides by its Code of Practice. The BHTA Code of Practice is recognised by the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme managed by the Trading Standards Institute.

Check out their aids brochure soon, it’s never too late to help someone with mobility problems.

CERVICAL DISC PROTRUSION AND ARTHRITIS…

After the brilliant guest post from Neil Velleman on ‘All you need to know about a slipped discI found myself being diagnosed with yet another disc problem in my cervical spine.

For the last six months, I have been having constant pain going down my arm from my neck as well as pins and needles down to my little finger.  Initially, we thought it may have been my ulnar nerve again. I say ‘again’ as I had surgery last year for a trapped ulnar nerve which was a total success but they said it can come back even after surgery.

After a 2 hour consultation with a physiotherapist, it was decided that it could be one of two things. Either the ulnar nerve or a disc in my cervical spine so the first port of call was a nerve conduction test.

The nerve conduction test showed no problem with the ulnar nerve so I was then sent to have an MRI scan. Those results have shown that I have another disc bulge which is compressing a nerve and giving me the pins and needles and pain and it also showed that I have arthritis in that area.

Neil Velleman explained that ‘the spinal discs act as shock absorbers and through a variety of causes, including injury, poor posture and general “wear and tear” (meaning gradual deterioration), the walls of the disc can become weaker. If the centre of the disc pushes out, this can cause the disc wall to bulge and that can be when pain strikes!’

Mine is definitely in the ‘wear and tear’ category as I have had two previous surgeries on the C3/4 area of my spine which has meant the disc below it has had to do all the work. I have now been told I will need to see a consultant about the sort of treatment they can give me for the pain which could be IDD Therapy, Injections, Manual Therapy or Surgery.

Back in 1996 when I had my second surgery on the C3/4 discs they gave me traction first but IDD Therapy seems to have taken over from that method but I shall just have to wait and see what they suggest.

The worst pain is doing the simplest of things like cleaning my teeth or drying my hair so I am just hoping an appointment comes through sooner rather than later.

AMAZING OFFER ON AMAZON AUDIBLE…

Black Friday is nearly here but Amazon have a great saving on their Audible Books until 14 December and we’ll worth taking to download some books.

Audible Black Friday 2018 – Get 50% off Audible Membership for 4 months

Audible Black Friday 2018 offer: 50% off for 4 months! New customers signing up to Audible via this offer will pay £3.99 per month for 4 months, instead of the regular £7.99 per month. Audible membership includes a credit every month, applicable to any audiobook, regardless of price or length. The books are yours to keep for life, even if they cancel. With the world’s largest selection of titles to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Offer valid for new Audible customers signing up between 00:00 16 Nov and 23:59 14 Dec 2018.

8 HEALTH-RELATED SUBSCRIPTIONS TO CHEER SOMEONE UP THIS CHRISTMAS…

Why not buy that special person who is clearly suffering something a little different this year. Subscriptions have become big business over the last few years and there are a number of health-related ones which would make a great Christmas gift.

Yveherwell

A wellness subscription with no commitment and starts at £10 per month and includes health and well-being products to sample for your bath, home and food related.

Subscription from £10 per month

Buddy Box 

Billed as “a hug in a box”, Buddy Box is a thoughtful way to show those who are suffering from depression and anxiety (or simply going through a difficult time) that you care. Completely gender-neutral, it contains useful and supportive products to encourage self-care; whether purchasing it for yourself or as a gift for your loved one. Along with wellness treats, their box included a helpful zine, a book on staying calm, and a practical “how to make a decision” flowchart.  Profits are used by Blurt to provide peer support for those suffering from depression.

Subscription from £12 per month

The Healing Box

If you or a loved one are struggling with a chronic illness or facing a long hospital stay, the Healing Box is the ideal subscription box. It’s designed to ensure that those dealing with tough times make time for themselves and feel supported. The box comes crammed with useful and practical products – from super-soft bamboo socks to soothing hemp lip balm. They can be purchased as gifts and have options to customise. There’s also a specialist box for those dealing with brain injury.

Subscription £25.99 monthly sent quarterly.

The Happy Paper Club 

The Happy Paper Club is a monthly stationery subscription service that delivers boxes filled with papery goodness, happy and inspirational messages, and more to boost your happiness and spread a little joy.

A stationery subscription is a real treat if you love all things papery. The Happy Paper Club’s boxes are packed with handmade stationery, inspirational mantras and more to help you spread some joy by sending a thoughtful message to a friend or relative.

From £12.00 per month or 3-month subscription for £36.00

The Aroma Box 

The AromaBox harnesses the healing powers of essential oils with a monthly box containing the ingredients needed to create three seasonal aromatherapy products, including body lotion, foot scrub, oils and washes: perfect for when you just need a long soak in a relaxing bath.

Subscription from £19.99 plus £5.99 postage

Book and Brew

If your idea of relaxation is a night curled up with a good book, then this subscription box is the one for you. We loved the simplicity of the box, which teams a fiction text with a box of tea bags and delivers it to your door each month. Their colourful, action-packed historical novel was well-matched with a tin of tea – the ideal cure for a drizzly Sunday afternoon. The element of surprise is all part of its appeal but it does mean you might be left with a book that’s not your preferred genre or theme. There’s the option to buy a one-off box or subscribe for a lengthier period for bookworms who need their regular fix.

Subscription £12.99 per month

The Tea and Book Club

The Tea and Book Club has three options to subscribe to. The coffee and vintage which gives you a surprise vintage paperback and a packet of delicious ground coffee through the post each month (enough for four to five cups!) There’s no stationery in this version of the subscription. The tea and vintage which gives you a surprise vintage paperback, four luxury tea pyramids and some of our beautiful stationery. The tea will be picked from a carefully selected (and tested!) range at Bookishly HQ or the classic subscription which gives you a beautiful classic novel and some delicious tea to enjoy it with, posted out once a month. This subscription features a range of our exclusive covers for all of your favourite classic books. Their beautiful dust jackets over a Wordsworth Classic Edition.

Subscriptions from £10.00 per month

The Natural Wellness Box

The Natural Wellness Box sells bi-monthly subscription which you receive every other month and you will discover green health, beauty and wellness products in each box. You will receive 5-7 full size items, which may consist of natural beauty products, natural skincare, natural remedies, natural supplements, herbal tea, aromatherapy, superfoods or natural lifestyle items. Boxes are sent out bi-monthly. Payment is taken upon initial subscription, then on the 1st every other month.

Subscriptions from £35.00 per month