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Dare to care …

This is the post excerpt.

                        Oak Allee at Brookgreen Gardens, Pawleys Island, SC

 

Did you know that 133M Americans live with a Chronic illness? By 2020, that number will exceed 150M. This isn’t my opinion. This is fact. They are our spouses, siblings, parents, grandparents, neighbors and co-workers. They are young and old. No race or social-class is immune. This is America’s health crisis! One that needs far more attention than it is getting. Awareness of this issue is important. Support for those afflicted is an even greater priority. We are in this journey called life, together. Dare to care!

Do You Need To Vent?

Recently, I stumbled upon an article that said venting can be healthy. Even cathartic. Insightful and inspiring. Another offered tips for healthy venting. Hmmm … Perhaps, we should give it a try?

Some of us are just wired hot, where temperament is concerned. Others bottle their frustrations, deep inside. When you live with a Chronic illness, there always seems to be something that goes awry. It’s the nature of the beast. And it’s a pain in the backside. So, learning to manage this stress can be a good thing for our health as well as our relationships. 

I don’t like to wallow in negativity, but I do believe that we can learn through our experiences — even the bad ones. So, let’s vent a little. Let’s open the windows of our souls and get rid of the things that are dragging us down. So, please, post what bothers you about your illness … treatment, etc. Let’s talk about what works and what does not. Let’s do so in a productive way. We’re friends. We share many of the same difficulties. Who knows? It may actually help a few of us, in the process! 

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Reference Links:

https://psychcentral.com/blog/benefits-of-venting-go-both-ways/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/design-your-path/201108/anger-management-the-five-ws-healthy-venting

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201404/6-virtues-and-6-vices-venting

*Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

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After The Storm …

The storms of life effect us and teach us. Camille, back in 1969, is the first hurricane that I remember experiencing. I was nine years old. Even today, Camille remains the second-most intense hurricane to ever hit the United States. She was one of only three Category 5 storms to ever make landfall in this country. And her impact was devastating. As a young mother, my husband and I weathered Hurricane Hugo with family. My father was terminally ill, at the time. That in itself was a struggle. When the storm slammed into Sullivan’s Island, just north of Charleston, Hugo was a Category 4. We spent hours hunkered down and listening, as the winds howled … stripping away our roof. Despite the fact that we lived four hours inland, we had damage to our new home. You don’t have to live at the beach to suffer the consequences.

I have lived most of my 58 years between coastal states and the Midwest. Storms — whether a hurricane, tornado, or blizzard — are a fact of life. I have been through them all. They’re something you learn to respect rather quickly. Your survival depends upon it.

So, you monitor the reports. You dread the thought of being in its path. And you prepare, or you try to. It’s a very fluid situation, with a ticking clock. Sometimes, you have minutes. For others, you have a couple of days. Often times, with tropical systems, you evacuate. When this happens, you try your best to remember everything that you’ll need. You toss it all in the car and bug out. You wait. You worry. You pray. And, eventually, the storm does pass. Then, comes life … after the storm.

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Clean-up is a hazard in itself. Returning to your home may be an issue. Flooding can require that you boil water. Electricity can be out, for days. And you may find that you aren’t as prepared as you had initially thought you were. It happens to the best of us. When it does, life can be difficult, stressful and inconvenient. But if you have a Chronic illness, it can be life-threatening.

If your medications have been exposed to excessive heat, unsafe water, etc., they should be discarded. If your electricity has been out for a long time and your medication requires refrigeration, it too should be discarded. Wounds can be problematic for Diabetics. So, please, keep your feet protected. Wear shoes. Work-gloves, too. Stress worsens most Chronic illnesses. And the days — sometimes weeks, even months — that follow a massive storm are a highly stressful situation. But you aren’t alone.

Hospitals may be heavily damaged. Doctors offices are usually closed. Yet, help can be found. RXopen.org provides excellent information about the pharmacies that are open, or closed, in any natural disaster area. It also lists the locations of shelters as well as infusion centers. The American Red Cross responds to over 60K disasters, every year, with shelters, clean water, hot meals and health professionals. The Canadian Red Cross is equally active, in disaster responses, as are all the international branches. Directrelief.org provides assistance with medications and/or supplies, for low-income patients. Chain-pharmacies can usually fill a prescription, even if you have evacuated to another area. So, call yours for more details. If you are on Medicare, you can get help by calling 1-800-Medicare for assistance on medications, plan information, or dialysis. The National Cancer Institute  stands ready to assist Cancer patients at 1-800-4Cancer. And the Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers information for Diabetics and others, regarding natural disasters and severe weather. The latter is provided in numerous languages.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, over 50% of the patients who were seen in emergency care locations had a Chronic illness. Approximately 70% of the storm’s survivors had one. We saw similar numbers following Hurricane Maria, last year. As a nation, we sometimes learn lessons the hard way. The needs of the Chronically ill, in and after a natural disaster, is but one example. With each season and crisis, we become better prepared to handle these needs. And we become stronger in the process. Godspeed to all of you!

 

Reference links:

https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/chronic.html

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/preparedness.html

https://www.fda.gov/drugs/emergencypreparedness/ucm085200.htm

https://dhhr.wv.gov/hpcd/Pages/Disasters-and-Chronic-Disease.aspx

https://www.healthcareready.org/rxopen

https://www.directrelief.org/

https://www.cancer.gov/contact/emergency-preparedness

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4753992/

https://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/disaster-relief.html

http://www.redcross.ca/how-we-help/emergencies-and-disasters-in-canada/for-home-and-family/after-an-emergency-or-disaster

http://www.ifrc.org/en/what-we-do/disaster-management/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/two-months-after-maria-puerto-ricos-health-system-struggles-to-meet-needs-1510960587

*Photo by Mike Wilson on Unsplash

September Is …

My mother loved the autumn. It was her favorite time of year. From warm cider to the brightly-colored falling leaves, she thoroughly embraced the season. I always think of my mother, when September arrives. This year is no different. September, in all its glory, is a time for many things. But none are as important as its role in awareness. September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. That too reminds me of Mom … and others.

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Three members of my family have been diagnosed with a form of Blood Cancer. I lost my mother to a rare, Blood Cancer in 2008 (Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma primary to the bone). So, I take awareness for this form of Cancer personally. I know what it can do.

Blood Cancer affects children and adults. In fact, every three minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a Blood Cancer. Survival rates have improved greatly, in the last two decades. Yet, every nine minutes, a patient will succumb to the disease. Over 600K are expected to die from Cancer, in the U.S., this year. Nearly 10% of them will have a type of Blood Cancer.

Most of us know what Cancer is, or we have a pretty good idea. We associate the disease with terms like mass, tumor and malignant. But what exactly is a Blood Cancer? Blood Cancers affect the production and function of the body’s blood cells. Most of these cancers will start in the bone marrow, where blood is produced. There are three main types of Blood Cancer:

  • Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood.
  • Lymphoma is a cancer that starts in cells that are part of the body’s immune system.
  • Myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells.

To date, there are no effective screening tests for the early detection of Blood Cancers. But there are warning signs that we can share and make others aware of:

  • Unexplained fever.
  • Persistent fatigue.
  • Shortness of breath during normal activity.
  • Sweats, especially at night.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Persistent cough.
  • Abdominal pain, fullness and/or swelling.
  • Lymph node pain.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, I encourage you to see your doctor immediately. 

If you have been diagnosed with a Blood Cancer, take a moment to just let the news sink in. Cancer treatment can be complex and often times overwhelming for the patient, caregiver and family. Tests and treatment approaches can vary. But there are many materials available that will help to explain each step, in terms that you can understand. There are support groups available, in many areas. Online chats and podcasts are offered on various cancer-support websites, i.e. the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, American Cancer Society, etc.

Your Treatment Team (usually comprised of primary care physicians, a medical oncologist, surgical oncologist and radiation oncologist), can not only answer questions, they can help connect you with the materials and support you need. Once you are in remission, or your disease is under control, good follow-up care is critical to your well-being. Some hospitals offer Survivorship Clinics that give cancer survivors comprehensive monitoring and support. Yearly exams are part of this clinical approach, as well as regular visits to your primary physician.

Since 1960, the five-year relative survival rate for Leukemia has more than quadrupled. Patients are fighting Blood Cancers, every day. Many are winning their battle. Medical breakthroughs continue to be made. And one day, God willing, there may be a cure.

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. It was designated as such, by Congress, just two short years after my mother passed. If Mom were here today, I think she’d like the idea. No. Scratch that. I know she would like the idea. As someone who worked professionally in healthcare for over 40 years, she would be tirelessly involved. We can do more to fight Blood Cancer! We will do more! The lives of millions are depending on it! 

 

Reference Links:

https://www.nfcr.org/blog/7-facts-need-know-blood-cancers/

http://www.hematology.org/Patients/Cancers/

https://www.webmd.com/cancer/lymphoma/default.htm

http://www.lls.org/blood-cancer-awareness-month

https://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/september-blood-cancer-awareness-month

*Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

When Legends Get Sick

I confess. I don’t love baseball. It’s one of those things that I can take, or leave, in life. It’s not a great passion, or a priority. My family was, and still is, the exact opposite. Born in 1960, I grew-up surrounded by baseball fanatics. The kind who could sleep and eat the game, but never grow tired. We were, in our own way, classic All-Americans, from our hot dogs to our Cracker Jacks. My mother’s side was comprised of loyal, patiently waiting, Chicago Cubs fans. And my father’s side, lived for the St. Louis Cardinals. They were zealous, devoted followers of the Redbirds. Then, there was me — caught in the middle.

Don’t get me wrong. I like baseball. Being a female didn’t lessen my appreciation, for the sport. I enjoy watching a good game, every now and then. The kind that keeps you glued to the television … with the bases loaded … suspense mounting … and extra innings. The play-offs, and certainly the World Series, bring back fond memories of my childhood every year. On those crisp, autumn nights, we are all baseball fans; aren’t we? But when I think about baseball, I think beyond the diamond. And I always seem to think of New York (may my family forgive me). I think of the ability and courage of one certain Yankee — Lou Gehrig. He was truly a legend …

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The “Iron Horse”, as he was affectionately called, seemed larger than life itself. He played over 2,100 consecutive games. A record that wasn’t broken until the mid-90s. And his tenacity was amazing. Gehrig played baseball, under any circumstance, including injuries. Every major league player dreams of going to the World Series, just once in their career. Lou played in six. He was the first athlete to appear on a box of Wheaties. Number One, in many ways. As I said, a legend. But it was his fight off of the field that earned my deepest admiration.

In 1938, Lou Gehrig started to slip physically. The athlete who had made baseball look so easy was fumbling, as he laced his shoes. By the Spring of ’39, he was in Mayo Clinic. There, at the age of 36, he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). His professional career in baseball was over. And a new fight had begun. One that he fought daily, until he succumbed (1941). In the years that followed, ALS became more commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” — a reminder that Chronic illness can strike any of us.

ALS is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease. There are two types: Sporadic and Familial. Sporadic is the most common, accounting for 90-95% of all cases that are diagnosed in the United States. Military veterans are twice as likely to be diagnosed, compared to the general population. Although, to date, the medical community hasn’t been able to determine why.

Patients with ALS may lose the ability to speak, move, eat and breathe. Their lives are altered, by the disease. While each case is different, the challenge is the same. A lot has been accomplished in medicine, since 1941. But there is still no cure. Yet, patients are now better equipped to manage ALS. And that is key. Many patients have a better quality of life, by participating in support groups. They stay socially active. They reap the benefits of occupational and physical therapy. They learn to live in the moment. Life expectancy with ALS has increased, since Gehrig was diagnosed. Today, 20% of all patients will live five years or more. An estimated 10% will live for a decade, or longer. And 5% will live for 20+ years.

When I reflect on the life of Lou Gehrig, I see the whole picture — not just baseball. I see the quiet and unassuming man. Husband. Son. I see the tenacious spirit who refused to let his condition deter him. I see the man who went from professional sports to working with prison inmates. As a member of New York City’s Parole Board, Gehrig was helping others to transition in life — to start over. And he took that job, seriously. Through his illness, he understood the fear and the challenge. He turned a negative into a positive. Gehrig was the kind of individual who squeezed every drop from life and savored it.  We should all, sick or well, heed that lesson. Lou truly lived. And how he lived remains an inspiration.

 

 

Reference Links:

https://www.biography.com/people/lou-gehrig-9308266

https://www.history.com/news/the-life-of-lou-gehrig

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354022

http://www.alsa.org/community/support-groups/

https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/living-als

https://www.verywellhealth.com/als-lou-gehrigs-disease-life-expectancy-2223973

*Photo by Chanan Greenblatt on Unsplash

The Highs & Lows Of Bipolar Disorder

We all have our moods. The good days and the bad. Chronic illness often contributes to the latter. When we are stiff, in pain, struggling with elevated blood sugar levels, etc., we are down … irritable … and frustrated. But for those living with Bipolar Disorder, moods define their condition.

Contrary to the common misconception, a patient with Bipolar isn’t overly emotional. Instead, he or she experiences long periods of mood that are high-energy and others that are deeply saddening — stifling. These periods or episodes can last, for months. In between, they experience normal mood. These drastic swings are difficult and disruptive, for the patient and those around them. But, like other Chronic illnesses, Bipolar can be managed through medication, therapy and lifestyle changes. 

 

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Bipolar, or manic depression as it is also known, is a mental health condition that effects more than 3M Americans. In 2016, it was estimated that 40M are effected worldwide. Some experience their first episode, during childhood. But it typically begins during late teens or early adulthood. Many patients may go for years, untreated. They may not even be aware that they are sick. This by no means suggests that a patient should ignore their symptoms. In fact, the sooner that he or she is properly diagnosed … the easier it will be to get these symptoms under control and effectively manage their condition.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, there are steps that you can take for better living:

  • Eat healthy choices, i.e. Omega-3 foods. Avoid alcohol and drugs. 
  • Communicate with your Doctor or therapist.
  • Always take your medications as directed.
  • Monitor your symptoms.
  • Stay connected to your Support System, i.e. family, friends, etc. Don’t isolate.
  • Develop a more structured lifestyle.
  • Get some form of exercise. It’s emotionally beneficial. 
  • Limit your stress. 

Remember, our lives are like gardens. None are perfect, but all are beautiful. Give yours the chance to blossom and grow!

 

Reference Links: 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955

https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/bipolardisorder.aspx?theme=mobile

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/bipolar-disorder#bipolar%20disorder

https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

https://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/bipolar-disorder/living-with-bipolar-disorder.htm

*Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

 

On Eagle’s Wings …

Most of us grew-up with the notion that when you were sick, you went to the doctor and you got well. Life returned to normal. But once you are diagnosed with a Chronic illness, that simple concept goes out the window. In your new normal, you regularly go to the doctor/s … you regularly take medications, sometimes therapy, surgery, exercise, dietary changes, etc., but you are never where you once were. The symptoms remain. Pain is often times as common as breathing. And being well translates to effectively managing your disease. Despite your best efforts, there are setbacks. Those with a Chronic illness will tell you that it’s inevitable. And with time, the struggle can take its toll. Some become anxious and/or depressed. Others just want to give up. Medical science has accomplished a lot, but courage and strength can’t be prescribed. These essential tools must come from within.

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“… but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  — Isaiah 40:31

Often times, a patient wonders, “Why me?” They may look at their life and try to find where the mistake was made. While lifestyle can contribute to some Chronic illnesses, there are many patients who have a long history of maintaining a healthy one prior to their diagnosis. Genetics and environment also play a role. In essence, there are no guarantees in life.

My uncle was diagnosed with Hypertension, around the age of 30. He successfully managed his condition, for years. In his late-50s, he retired … sold his home in the suburbs of Chicago … purchased a farm near Nashville, TN … and left the Big City grind for an easier gentry. He had chickens, ducks, horses, a well-stocked fishing pond, etc. When he and my aunt chose country-living, they went all in. Gardening. Quilting. Relaxing on the porch. It was a peaceful existence, surrounded by natural beauty. Admired. Perhaps, envied. Yet, a year later, he was stricken with a massive stroke. Left with partial paralysis, he found himself in a wheelchair. And, as he confessed to me nearly a decade later, he wondered, “Why me?” The really wondrous thing was that, according to him, he heard a voice say, “Why not you?” Was this a Divine conversation? Maybe. But, in that moment, he realized that he wasn’t alone. He had his faith to sustain him — to help confront his situation. There were millions struggling with medical conditions, the loss of body function, etc. His new normal wasn’t a rarity. It was a curve-ball in life. And he chose to make the most of it, which is exactly what God wants us to do.

Consider, for a moment, the Book of Job. It details the long-suffering of a good man. In my humble opinion, the diagnosis of any Chronic illness isn’t a matter of punishment. It’s a part of life that eventually finds most of us. It’s a time of change, like the seasons. But it is also an opportunity to inspire, to grow, even to thrive. My faith has taught me many things. One is that the Lord will not give me more than I can handle. So, even when a setback comes, I am comforted in that knowledge. Prayer has been a vital part of my daily living, for decades. Through it, I have been uplifted — strengthened emotionally, physically and spiritually. Inspired. And, yes, guided. I have been given the courage to confront my fears, work through my frustrations and move forward. Through the worst of times, prayer has led me — allowed me to soar. And I thank God for that.

Many religions rely on the power of prayer. They believe in the use of prayer for comfort, healing, strength and peace-of-mind. They know that it works, though the how and why may remain a mystery. Buddhists use meditation. Roman Catholics use the rosary. Protestants have individual prayer and Prayer Groups. Muslims use Du’a (personal prayer for healing). Jews turn to dovening and the Mi Sheberakh (a healing prayer for the sick). All are united by the belief that comfort and healing can be attained through sincere prayer.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of medical studies involving prayer. Even the NIH (National Institutes of Health) has funded one. Thirty years ago, the idea would have been unheard of by the scientific community. But time, as well as data, has a way of changing things. Even those who are not devout, can understand positive results. Prayer, in its various forms, has the ability to relax the patient. Stress is lessened, or eliminated. This in turn promotes healing. The limbic system of the brain, responsible for basic emotion, instinct and mood, is also positively effected. This aids the patient’s mental health. Who exactly gets the credit for the healing remains a matter of debate. Still, the facts remain. Prayer can play a significant role in a patient’s health and well-being.   

When you are diagnosed with Chronic illness, you are in it for the long-haul. If you are a religious person, you will probably turn to your faith for strength and courage. You may even find yourself struggling with it. That too, I think, is natural — human. So, set your hesitation aside and talk to your clergy about it. You won’t be the first, or the last. Others, overwhelmed and searching, may find faith at this time. You too are neither the first, or the last. It might also be the perfect time to join a a Bible Study group, volunteer at a Food Bank, etc. Sometimes, when you see the difficulties of others, it lends perspective. And many religious organizations even have support groups, for those who are living with Chronic illness. This is especially helpful for patients who live alone, or lack a solid support system at home.

Despite your affliction, or your views toward prayer, always embrace optimism. On the difficult days, I know that’s a lot to ask. But remember … an optimistic mindset is a key component for managing your condition. It’s uplifting. Encouraging. Motivating. Optimism is a confidence — a sheer hopefulness — that allows you to fight another day. One that somehow strengthens your body as well as your resolve. If you are anything, as a patient who is living with a Chronic illness, you are a warrior. We all are. Keep fighting the good fight!

 

Reference Links:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1070773/

https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/can-prayer-heal#1

https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/study-cancer-patients-with-strong-religious-or-spiritual-beliefs-report-better-health.html

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/dec/30/power-of-prayer-healing-and-therapeutic-prayer-in-/

*Photo by Keo Mowat on Unsplash

 

School Daze: Students & Chronic Illness

Recently, a friend shared photos of her high school reunion online. It was fun to look at those images, because I had attended this school for a few years. Once upon a time, these individuals were also my classmates. Time has a way of changing us. Age becomes the great equalizer, in life. And many of the things that we worried about, back in school, seem remarkably trivial. Perhaps, wisdom has finally taken control? Or, maybe, we’re just lacking the energy of our youth? Nowadays, most of us have Chronic illnesses to manage and discuss. It’s the new normal. But, 40+ years ago, it was a very different story. My diagnosis was an oddity that added difficulty to school and relationships. If your student is living with one, they know exactly what I mean.

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I was diagnosed with a Chronic illness, in 8th grade. In the blink of an eye, my life was drastically altered. I was hospitalized for six weeks, in one semester. My grades tumbled, across the board. No subject was spared. Perfectionist that I was (and still am to some extent), I went into full-panic mode. I was the student who tutored others. I had even tutored a couple of students who were a year ahead of me. Excellent grades had always been achieved, with modest effort. I had never been the student who had to work hard, or academically struggled. My Science teacher, crusty old gal that she was, refused to believe that I was even sick. Letters from my physicians had absolutely no influence on her. It made for an awkward classroom experience, to say the least. My other teachers, praise God, were understanding. They even brought school-work to my hospital-bed. But my life, like a line of falling dominoes, continued to collapse. My friendships became strained. Some disintegrated. Others totally disappeared. Then came the grand finale … the Headmaster announced that I had missed a few days over the limit that the state allowed (in a school-year). And I was held back, despite my passing grades and valiant effort. To say that it was heartbreaking would be an understatement. It was the most brutal thing that I had ever endured. Frustrating. Embarrassing. Even now, at 58, I really cannot describe how broken that year left me. Thankfully, I had a great support system — my family. With them, I was able to glean a valuable life-lesson from this unbearable time … perseverance!

Education has improved, in many areas. In others, it remains a mess. I have no desire to debate over-crowded classrooms, curriculum, weapons, etc., though all are worthy subjects. My focus, here, is on each and every student who lives with a Chronic illness.

We cannot control how society will react to the chronically ill, even if the patient is a child. We cannot force relationships to happen, or survive. And there are no guarantees that the adults involved won’t somehow disappoint us. We must realize that human nature plays a role. And perceptions can be skewed, by many things. Despite the law, diligent studying and the best of parenting, the odds are still that your student’s health issue will one day be an academic and/or social issue. So, be prepared.

Once a child is of school-age, he or she begins a journey through the academic and social pressures of growing-up. Parents are the navigators, for this journey — helping their child to avoid the hazards without becoming too overprotective or overbearing. When a child has a Chronic illness, there is an added degree of difficulty. Their needs/illness effects several, i.e. parents, siblings, teachers, etc. Sometimes, it is met with cooperation. And at other times, it’s a struggle. On the tough days, remember that you aren’t alone. Your child didn’t ask for a long-term medical condition. Nor did you ever want it, for them. Yet, here you are. And there are millions of families who can relate to what you are going through. They are going through it, too. 

Students with Chronic illness often feel left out, embarrassed, frustrated. They want to fit in and be normal. Yet, their health is anything but that. Less than 20% of all students live with a Chronic illness. So, prepare them. Friends, classmates or teammates may ask questions. It’s no big deal. Usually, a brief response will suffice. And, if an emergency should ever arise, it can be life-saving to have individuals who are in the know.

Some students may have academic difficulties, when fatigue and other symptoms plague their ability to study or attend class. Others do not. Some may resort to trying risky behaviors, i.e. skipping medication, underage drinking, binge drinking, smoking, drug abuse, unprotected sex, reckless driving, etc. But many learn to respect their medical condition and its needs, early on. They have no desire to take unnecessary risks. Unfortunately, when someone is different, they can be the target of physical and/or verbal bullying. This includes students who are living with a Chronic illness. If your child is experiencing peer victimization, it hurts. So, it is important to address the issue promptly. Stress has the nasty ability to worsen any chronic condition.

If you can foster a team atmosphere at home and at school, it will help tremendously. A good support system, no matter the patient’s age, is priceless. Think of this as a lesson that your student can utilize, throughout their life. It’s an inclusive approach that makes them feel less overwhelmed. Talk candidly with your child about ways that they can manage their disease and enjoy life to the fullest. Build their confidence. Talk about their goals and dreams, i.e. team sports, class trips, college. Discuss ways to attain these things. Many accomplished individuals, from U.S. presidents to celebrities and pro athletes, live with Chronic illness. It helps any student to have a role model that they can identify with. Last but not least, try to avoid mourning what you think (or know) your child cannot do. Although it may be a natural reaction for parents, it can leave your child feeling as though they have disappointed you. Instead, celebrate and encourage what they CAN do. We all have gifts. The key is discovering and utilizing them! 

 

Reference Links:

http://www.disabilityrights.org/appendix.htm

http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/chronic.htm

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/chronic-illness-child.aspx

http://www.bourgase.com/teaching/special-education/coaching-chronic-illness/

https://academic.oup.com/jpepsy/article/42/3/245/2418166

http://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/1/3

https://www.webmd.com/balance/managing-chronic-disease-at-college#1

https://consumer.healthday.com/general-health-information-16/suicide-health-news-646/chronic-illness-can-plunge-young-adults-into-despair-725726.html

*Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash