Health Hassles: Just Been Diagnosed With a Serious or Chronic Health Problem?

The funny thing is, you only really appreciate good health when you don’t have it any more. It’s only when you grow older, and the achy knees and back kick in when you appreciate how good it felt to get around without suffering. It’s only when you come down with a terrible cold, flu or stomach that you appreciate feeling fit, well and full of energy. And it’s when you get diagnosed with a long-term health condition it can make you wonder why you didn’t value your good health more when you had it. But a chronic health condition doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Sure, living with pain or a disability is bound to change many aspects of your life, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t live a long and happy life. When you’ve had the news that you have a chronic, long-term or serious health condition, here’s what you need to do next.

Rely On Your Support Network
Maybe you had suspicions for a while about what was wrong with you, or perhaps your diagnosis came as a shock. Either way, being told you have a serious health condition is difficult news for anyone, and so you will need family and friends around you at this time. Having people to support you and be there for you can make everything much easier to deal with compared to trying to bear the weight of the news on your own. Speaking to loved ones can help you to gain a different perspective and see things in a new way and generally help you to cope better. It can be tricky when it comes to children and dependents as you won't want to worry them, but it’s worth explaining that things will be little different now since you’re not very well and letting them know of any changes that might be made. This could mean special equipment or adaptations being brought into the house, or that you won't have as much energy as you once did. At least then everyone has an understanding of what’s happening. If you don’t feel like you can open up properly to loved ones, at least utilise the helplines that are available out there. Speaking to someone else can make all the difference, don’t feel like you have to go through it all alone.

Get Clued Up About Your Condition
Once you know for sure what condition you have, it’s worth getting as much information on it as you can and getting clued up. Ask your doctor plenty of questions and seek the advice you need. Go online too and research your condition, there will be forums and other places you can go to chat to those with the same or similar illnesses to get advice and more information. The more you can find out the better, this includes side effects, worrying symptoms to watch out for, other effects the illness can have on your life and just things you might not have thought of that can be useful to know.

Know Your Medication and Treatments
As well as understanding your condition, you need to know what medication and treatments you will be having to either cure the illness or manage symptoms. If you’re taking medicine at home, you should find out when to take it, whether it needs to be taken with food or at certain times of day, and what the side effects are likely to be. You should be aware of what the medicine is and what it aims to treat or control and what the doses are. If you’re going into hospital for treatment such as chemotherapy or dialysis, you should find out exactly what the process is and what to expect. How these treatments work, and again things like side effects so you’re prepared. That way if you experience any unusual symptoms and you know it’s not expected from the medication you can speak to your doctor right away.

Work Out Your Finances
if you’re going to be taking medication or paying for treatment long term, this can be expensive. Depending on your situation such as where you live, your income and the kinds of health schemes available to you, you might be entitled to some help with costs. If not, you will probably need to address your finances and make changes. Things like prescription costs, health treatments, hospital stays and travel to and from appointments will all need to be worked into your budget. On top of this, depending on your condition you might have to reduce your hours or stop working completely. This will of course impact your finances so you will need to work out how you’re going to get by, maintain your finances and treat your health condition. There are helplines and other forms of advice you can seek to get answers if you’re unsure.
Get Some Extra Support
Depending on the type of illness or condition you have, you might need some extra support. Maybe you have had an operation to remove cancer or even an organ, or perhaps you’re left particularly weak after a course of treatment. If this is the case, there are facilities you can go to in the short term which can help you recover more quickly. These kinds of clinics have health professionals available, advanced professionals will have their master's degrees in nursing, and there will be general help for things like personal care too. All of this will be around the clock, so you have access everything you need, and you could spend a few weeks up to a few months getting better without having to worry about cooking, cleaning or anything else that you would at home. Something like this will cost you, but if you have the money available it’s something that could hugely help in the recovery process.

Consider Alternative Complementary Therapies
There are all kinds of complementary therapies these days that have been shown to be very effective. While modern medicine is fantastic, these additional treatments are highly valued by many patients especially when it comes to dealing with pain. Massage therapy, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and reflexology are all examples. If you don’t want to up your dose of pain medication and are looking for healthy, effective alternatives to try, then these kinds of things could work for you. Most doctors are happy for you to try these therapies, although have a chat to them first just to make sure you’re not doing anything that will effect your primary treatment. This is especially true when it comes to taking herbal remedies. Herbal medicines can be potent so should be used with caution, and always make sure you’re buying from licensed suppliers. Ordering medicines online or buying from stalls and things is risky because you don’t know exactly what you’re getting. Counselling and pain therapy groups are another thing you could try which can help you learn different coping techniques. They work by teaching you how to focus your attention elsewhere, try out different breathing techniques and encourage positive thinking.
Make Lifestyle Changes
One of the best things you can do for your health, whether you’ve been diagnosed with a health condition or not is to take care of your body. You will prevent certain conditions from arising in the first place, and any that you do have, you can stop them from getting worse. We all know how important it is to eat a healthy diet, and this is advice not to be underestimated. When your body is well nourished with all of the vitamins and minerals, it needs it will thrive and work properly. If you clog up your arteries with saturated fat, you put yourself at risk of heart disease and stroke. Too much sugar and you risk diabetes. Harmful chemicals and you risk cancers and other illnesses. Take control of the food you put in your body, aim to eat plenty of fresh organic fruit and vegetables. Lean meat, low-fat dairy, and whole grains will provide your body with the macronutrients it needs. Nuts, seeds, legumes, sprouts and other ingredients will give your body plenty of micronutrients. Exercise too plays an important role, and isn't something you should avoid when you have a health condition. Find out what’s safe from your doctor, it might be gentle walking or swimming, but you will feel fitter and better physically and mentally for doing so.

Being diagnosed with a serious illness is a difficult pill to swallow, and it’s news no one wants to receive. But every single day you’re here, alive and fighting it’s another chance which is something that not everyone gets. Don’t focus on what you have to lose, do whatever you can and think about what you have to gain. You can still live a happy and fruitful life with the right mindset.

Are you currently dealing with a long-term or serious health condition? What advice would you give to others who have recently received their diagnosis?

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