Simple Tips for Coping with Illness
Parkinson’s Disease – Currently affects nearly one million people and is not racially, ethnically, or gender-specific in whom it afflicts. This is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. Alzheimer’s is first.
Breast Cancer – Chances are you know someone within your circle that has or has had breast cancer. While in many cases it can be cured, in many, it is not and can spread to other areas of the body. Monitoring for recurrence is a life-long endeavor. For those who have undergone surgery, there are life-long physical changes in a woman’s body as a reminder of the disease.
Prostate Cancer – There are several different treatment strategies used to cure the disease. Treatment is essential to prevent spread of the cancer to other organs. Treatment can affect a man’s feelings of worth, and can also affect intimate relations with one’s spouse.
Diabetes, lupus, arthritis, congestive heart failure, chronic pain, and others are serious and require life-long vigilance. Treatment is often ongoing. Managing one’s illness can be tiring and stressful, even depressing.
When disease strikes, it can leave a person feeling scared or uncertain. These feelings can be worse if the disease is chronic and degenerative. While dealing with chronic illness is difficult there are some things a person can do to help themselves cope:
Avoid isolation. When a person keeps to himself/herself there is often a increased tendency to dwell on what is “wrong.” Depression can occur or worsen. Instead, join support groups. Consider counseling. Sharing one’s experience with others helps gather support and develops connections with others. Don’t shut out family or friends. Stay socially involved as much as possible.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Nutrition and fitness can help anyone deal with any illness. Healthy living can make a world of difference in the quality of life. Sometimes activities have to be adjusted depending on the type of illness or if there are activity restrictions. Even so, there are many ways to help a person stay fit.
Retain a sense of humor. This may be the most important coping skill. While there may be some days when laughing is the last thing a person wants to do, don’t give up laughing completely.
Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a blood disorder. While being treated for this disease he watched comedy after comedy, laughing a lot. He maintains that the laughter is what cured him. Michael J. Fox has had to deal with Parkinson’s Disease since 1991. Not only does he carry on well, but he also maintains his sense of humor. Laughter really is the best medicine!
(Thanks to Kaiser Permanente for some of the information in this post.)
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