People with Chronic Illness Get Sick Too

By February 11, 2018Clinician, ePatient

When I watch the camera scan a crowd (sports event, political rally) or I’m on the T (subway) I pick someone out and wonder,  What’s their backstories? Where do they live? Do they like being where they are right now? What ailments do they suffer from? Are they chronically ill? I’m either curious or nosey, maybe both.

A common theme in chronic illness social media is the frequent invisibility of chronic illness. You don’t look sick! When I see someone with a visible disability, I wonder if they have a cold, a stomach ache, or recently stubbed their toe?  People with chronic illnesses get sick, too. As my Primary Care doc says, your specialists help you manage your multiple sclerosis, I help you manage the rest of you. You’re still a 65-year old white man with high cholesterol, a prostate, a heartburn. You can get sick just like anyone else.

So, I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago. Ironic. These days I’m working with clinical decision support and pain management. Now I have a new kind of pain. An acute pain that I don’t want to add to my chronic pains. I can manage those chronic ones. This new pain puts me off my feed. My chiropractor tells me that my MS can flavor predisposing factors and management options, but hurting my back isn’t from the MS. The good news is that my MS management routine of getting my steps in, strengthening, and balance work keeps my core strong. Squats and upper body strengthening allow me to reduce the stress on my back when I stand up from a chair, out of bed, or get up off the ground. I also have the basic perspective to have tools in my toolbox to get through the current miserable day, hour, minute when symptoms are the worst. As I wrote about recently, I look for patterns and figure out what works. Dealing with underlying causes and preventing further exacerbations are different, yet equally important, mindsets.  I create ever-improving care plans for both chronic and acute states. My chiropractor helps me with both my back pain plans: managing the pain and refining my routine to prevent new injuries.

I find it rare for a clinician to help me create and monitor both acute and chronic plans.  How about you?

Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash

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