Whether you or someone you know is dealing with a chronic condition, there’s no doubt that it can completely overhaul your life. It can make you have to deal with everyday tasks a little differently, view life in a way you didn’t expect, as well as potentially have to battle with pain daily. If not suffering yourself, you may have to watch a loved one endure this instead, which may often feel like you’re suffering alongside them.
While chronic illness and conditions will always require the right healthcare attention, such as from those with experience of nurse practitioner programs, there are many ways you can personally adapt your life, for yourself and others, to better deal with chronic illness or pain.
What is a Chronic Illness or Disease?
Chronic medical conditions are those that require ongoing medical treatment. They are long-term conditions and may worsen over time. This can vary from manageable conditions like diabetes to more serious diseases requiring more dedicated treatment such as heart disease. Not only that, but chronic illness and disease have the power to affect your everyday life in many ways. They may mean that you have to have ongoing disruptive treatment or medication which limits what you can do daily, or they may mean that you’re incapable of fulfilling daily tasks due to pain or other medical concerns. This is why treatment is necessary from healthcare professionals, like those educated in nurse practitioner programs, who can provide daily support.
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain can arise alongside a chronic illness or disease if it is part of it, but usually, it is a separate issue which isn’t life-threatening or health threatening. Despite that, it can still be a very debilitating experience to have chronic pain.
This is pain that is persistent long-term, and perhaps even for the rest of your life. Chronic pain is different from pain experienced from everyday injuries, as usually, this pain will go away once you have recovered. Chronic pain, however, can persist despite medical treatment and recovery, and may even arise on its own through natural development without any clear cause or injury.
Examples of chronic pain could be issues with arthritis, back pain, joint pain, nerve damage or severe headaches and migraines. Visiting a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or those educated within nurse practitioner programs, can be key to identifying chronic pain and how to deal with it from a medical point of view.
What Can You Do for Someone Else Suffering?
Ask Them How You Can Help
What’s important when trying to help someone suffering from chronic conditions is that you always listen to their viewpoint. It’s important to try never to assume what they need or how they’re feeling, and instead keep an open mind and listen to what they have to say. Asking them directly how you can help and what you should do means they have the opportunity to get the assistance they need, and also lets them know that you’re there to help when they need it, which can be very helpful and encouraging for them.
Research Their Condition
It’s a good idea to take a step back and research what you can about the condition or pain issue that the other person is going through. There may be a lot that they don’t know themselves about their conditions, or perhaps they’d rather not discuss it in detail. Getting a neutral and objective overview of their condition or pain issue will not only help you to understand better what they are going through but how you can help them.
It may also help you to understand best what to expect for the future, such as if the condition worsens or how it might impact their lives in years to come so that you can be better prepared to support them.
Always be open with them about your research and tell them the truth about it, so that they don’t feel as though you have gone behind their back. Also, be sure to discuss with them anything you find which interests you or which you think will help, so that they don’t feel as though you’re acting as though you know best simply because you found something out about their condition.
Just Be There to Listen
Sometimes, it might be that you can’t do much to help or anything to help physically. It may be that they need somebody to listen when they are feeling overwhelmed and in pain and to know that they’re not alone. Being a solid presence for them can make all the difference when they’re struggling.
Switch to a Healthcare Career
If you’ve dealt with chronic illness first hand and you’re inspired to want to take a greater step in helping people, there are many great career options which are dedicated to this form of healthcare, such as nurse practitioner programs. Here, you can work on the frontlines to treat chronic conditions and help patients live a better life. This not only means that you’re in a better position to help loved ones but also to help many other people who need support in the same way, too; a perfect career choice if you’re a compassionate person who wants to focus on helping patients with chronic conditions and more.
Never Question Them
If they say something about how they’re feeling or their condition, then believe them. Tell them that you believe them, and don’t question it. You can’t know how they’re feeling or what they’re experiencing, so always take their word for it and react accordingly. If you doubt them or if you are skeptical about what they are saying, this will not help them to deal with what they are going through and may make them feel even worse.
What Can You Do for Yourself if You’re Suffering?
Get the Right Medical Care
Always visit your healthcare professional to get a diagnosis for any chronic condition you think you may be experiencing, whether it’s symptoms of an illness or chronic pain. Work with your healthcare attendants to find the right treatment for you and always discuss your options with them. You may need daily care or assistance, like from nurse practitioner programs, or it may be a course of one-time treatment to see you through to recovery.
Consider a Support Group
Even if you’re surrounded by loved ones who have your back, having a designated support group that allows you to speak with others suffering from the same chronic problems can be a positive experience. Support groups are there for more serious illnesses and diseases, or you can even find support groups for chronic pain conditions and discuss how they are affecting your daily life. It can also be a big help if you don’t want to put too much on your friends and family and would like a more neutral support system from a dedicated group.
Adapt Your Life
Chronic pain and illness may mean that you have to completely change your lifestyle and the way you live your life. It may mean that you have to stop doing certain things or may never be able to do certain things again. What’s important is that you adapt your life to work for you, and therefore still be able to live a life that is personally rewarding for you. Adapting your life doesn’t mean being unable to live your life as you want, it merely means that there may be serious changes you have to make, but which, in time, can still work for you, with the support of those around you and any dedicated medical care, such as from nurse practitioner programs.
Seek Alternative Care
While dedicated medical care and perhaps medication will be a necessity, there are also alternative medicines or treatments you may want to look at that could help. Especially in the realm of chronic pain, more holistic approaches like a massage may help to alleviate pain in the body as well as helping you to relax and feel more at peace with your condition.
Other holistic approaches, like certain exercises or meditation, may help you to feel calmer and less stressed about anything you’re suffering with. There will always be alternatives to managing pain and managing your lifestyle, and it’s important to remember that you’re always in control of that side of things, even if you might feel that your pain is controlling you. If you have a home nurse from nurse practitioner programs, you can always speak to them, too, about alternative outlooks.
Look After Your Overall Health
To be in your best condition to tackle anything which is thrown at you, looking after your overall health is key. Alongside any ongoing treatment, you may be having, remembering the basics like a healthy diet, and staying active will help you to feel stronger and more prepared overall.
If your chronic illness or pain prevents you from doing certain exercises or perhaps from being able to spend time cooking in the kitchen, then it’s important to find the right support for what you can do. Find an exercise you can comfortably do in your situation which still allows you to move as you need to, and seek help with cooking and with a nutritious and balanced diet if you need it, such as asking a loved one to help you prepare meals or having a support service like from nurse practitioner programs or care plans to help you with daily tasks. Furthermore, keep your mind healthy and active by keeping it occupied, such as through reading, learning a new skill, or completing puzzles. Not only will this help to stretch your brain muscles and keep them healthy, but it can also serve as a distraction and a task you can do mindfully so that you’re not dwelling on any illness or pain.
Shift Your Thinking
It can be very difficult to think positively when you’re suffering from long-term conditions or chronic pain. It can also be very frustrating if you’re told to be grateful for what you have, or perhaps told ‘it could always be worse’. Nevertheless, trying to think positively whenever you can be key to coping, not only for your body but for your mind as well. Dwelling on negative thoughts — although this naturally is easily done when suffering — can only make everything feel ten times worse.
You may want to try gratitude, such as keeping a gratitude journal or making a note of three things every day which you’re grateful for. Think about the things you still can do rather than those you can’t. Adapt your life to still be surrounded by the things you love and which you can experience. Spend time outdoors in the fresh air and enjoy the scenery rather than staying indoors, if you can. As mentioned, support groups can also help to put everything into perspective and put a positive spin on things, too.
Never Feel Guilty for Anything
When you’re suffering, you have a right to be open and honest at all times. That means you shouldn’t ever feel guilty about anything relating to your illness, pain or what you’re going through. If you need time alone, need to cancel plans at the last minute or need to ask somebody else for help, for example, never feel guilty for it. Be open and honest with how you’re feeling, and never feel as though you have to do something for the sake of it to please other people, such as attending a social event when you’re in pain or feeling low.
Chronic conditions can affect a person’s life and the lives of those around them in many ways, whether it’s everyday chronic pain or a long-term debilitating illness. What matters most when dealing with such conditions is finding the support which the individual person needs, and always making sure that their own needs come first. If you’re helping another, make sure to support them in any way which they say they need — and be sure to avoid anything which they specifically say they don’t need. When helping yourself, be kind and compassionate to your own needs, and always be sure to seek the proper medical attention, whether that’s with a doctor you trust or from a nurse practitioner programs.