How to Cope With Chronic Illness
Becoming an adult comes with a lot of benefits but it also comes with more responsibility and, most often, a change within your body. Aches and pains are just some of the ways you know that you are becoming older. Unfortunately, there is often a lot more going on internally the older you become. Finding a great Internal Medical Doctor will help when you are dealing with chronic illness.
My mother was diagnosed with connective tissue disease, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia in her 30’s. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas diagnosed by symptoms. Connective tissue disease is an auto immune disorder so it is diagnosed with blood work but also portrays symptoms similar to lupus or fibromyalgia. Living an ordinary life, then struck with chronic pain changed a whole lot in her life. For me, watching her cope with fibromyalgia has been hard to watch. If nothing else, I have learned a few things over the last 20 plus years of her dealing with this chronic illness.
How to Deal with Chronic Illness
- Be your own advocate – Being you own advocate is one of the most important parts to dealing with chronic illness. You know your own body best so YOU know what is NOT normal. Demand further testing and/or request a second opinion if you feel you need it.
- Educate yourself – Reading everything on google can make you full or worry BUT once given a diagnosis, read, read, and read some more to find out all your options. Most of the time, your internal medicine doctor will have material on the illness to give you. Reading as much as you can will help you to know what questions to ask at your next appointment.
- Make a list of questions – When you are dealing with chronic illness, it can be difficult to remember all the questions that you want or need to have answered. On a notepad or in your phone’s notes app, start a list of questions. Add to your list anytime a question comes to mind. Before your appointment, re-write out all the questions in the most organized way you can to make the appointment go smoothly. When you get to the doctor’s office, you can give the questions directly to the doctor. Tell him or her that you would like to go over those questions before you leave.
- Take someone with you to appointments – Two sets of ears are always better than one. Ask whoever goes with you to take some notes for you to have to look over later. A lot of information can be given to you during an appointment, especially if you have a lot of questions needing to be answered. Soaking all of that information in all within an hour or so can lead to forgetting what all the doctor told you. Taking notes and having a friend or loved one available to help when trying to process all the information later will ease your mind.
- Keep ALL medical records – Ask your doctor for a copy of your medical records from each visit, any test results, and radiology reports. Especially if it is a chronic illness, having a binder with all medical records will help if you ever have to see a new specialist or have to change doctors.
- Always use the same pharmacy – A pharmacist should always know what medicines you are taking. Filling your prescriptions at the same pharmacy allows the pharmacists to cross check your medications to make sure you do not take medicines that will counteract with each other.
- Find a good internal medicine doctor – Finding an internal medicine doctor who is qualified to help with chronic illnesses is KEY!
What is an Internal Medicine Doctor?
An internal medicine doctor, like Dr. Martin Stallone Jr, MD, is specialized in the non-surgical treatment of diseases and injuries in adults. Internal medicine doctors have a minimum of seven years worth of medical school and post graduate training that has a focus on learning the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease of adults. An internalist will also help in finding the proper specialists once any diagnoses are made.
Make sure you are taking care of your own health with yearly physical exams. Also, pay attention to any changes in your family member’s health that need to be addressed!