Adjusting to new chronic illness involves moving away from traditional medical/doctors/health care system to controlling controllable stress and recalibrating function. “Eventually, you adjust to a new normal,” says Lisa Copen, founder of Rest Ministries, Inc. Controllable stress takes many forms – toxic relationships, fear, anxiety, impatience, sleeplessness…. Managing those stresses creates space and reserves to manage uncontrollable stress – grief, new meds, less abilities, etc. Getting help managing toxic relationships has out-sized impact. Toxic relationships wear you down, drop by drop. Counseling can help here. Meditation and yoga pair well with impatience and anxiety. Have fun: when I got my multiple sclerosis diagnosis I had to redouble my efforts to have fun – more clearly defining what having fun meant to me and including fun as part of everyday life at home and at work. Spending time with my honey and my family, playing music, reading, making a difference, mentoring. Recalibrating function – adjusting to the new you: Physical or occupational therapy can help to manage changing abilities to carry out activities of daily living (meals, elimination, movement, dressing, chores). Community services can help with transportation and family support, among other things. We often expect that the traditional medical/health care system should help with stress and function. That’s not their core business, they’re often not good at it. Those with new chronic illness need to look elsewhere and add to their health team. Right now, insurance doesn’t pay well or doesn’t pay at all for controlling controllable stress or recalibrating function. Maybe that will change as incentives move from fee for service to capitation (paying separately for each service to paying a set amount per person).
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