Tuesday, 14 March 2017

My Chronic Illness "Survival Kit" - 10 Must Haves for Flare Up Days

We all have those days that are worse than others due to chronic pain, and particularly in my case I can always expect worse days in the week than others due to my chronic disease, gastroparesis. I routinely have days in the week where I struggle to do much, due to the pain, sickness, etc...Recently I have been getting more and more "flares" due to a trialing a new array of medication for treatment of my gastroparesis.

I have found the key on these days is to be prepared, and remind myself that I am ill and today I shall have to take it a bit easier, these days I call in for my "Survival Kit". Here's a list of my top ten:

1. Rest 
This I cannot stress enough, and hence it is number one on the list. We all occasionally push ourselves to the max, regardless of whether we have a health condition or not. Our bodies need rest in order to keep going, so make sure to listen to your body. 

2. Comfy clothing
Whether it might be that you can't bear getting changed out of your pyjamas or rather that you would get changed, but into something equally as cosy- this might be sweatpants or leggings. Whatever it may be, the essential is that it's not too tight and restrictive!

3. Blankets/Duvets
Undoubtedly, we couldn't continue the theme of being comfortable and cosy, without a blanket or duvet to cuddle up into!

4. Hot water bottle/Heat pad
To be honest, most days that I am in pain I will usually be attached to my hot water bottle, but on my "flare up" days these are particularly important. 

5. Medicine and sickness supplies
Obviously, this will vary slightly depending on your condition and/or symptoms that day, but for me, I like to make sure I have my painkillers of various strength varieties, a sick bowl, and my TENS machine to hand. 

6. Distract yourself
Get out the house if you can, I know a lot of times when our pain is bad we may prefer to sit in and grieve. Sometimes even just getting outside for ten minutes can help take your mind off things and serve as a distraction. Otherwise, why not try finding a new hobby to do- due to my array of conditions, which includes collapsing after standing or sitting for lengths of time, I do ultimately remind myself (or my doctor has to!) that by doing some light hobbies helps to keep you busy. 
 I have also recently been attempting to take up gentle yoga and meditation, although I have been known to pass out doing yoga on occasion, so even just sitting in a comfortable position in bed or on the try to "om" for a few minutes - it can help with breathing and relaxation. 

7. Writing
By jotting down how you are feeling on a bit of paper it can asset to clear your mind so that you can deal with some of your stresses and worries, in turn making you feel a bit more refreshed in order to move on, help clear your mind and forget them for now. 

8. Favourite movies/TV shows/Good book/Uplifting songs 
I love to watch comedies and after all laughter really is the best medicine! Depending on how I am feeling curling up on the sofa with a good book can also help. 
Additionally, I find listening to a song in the background while I am crouching on the floor in agony can sometimes be helpful; my favourite in this instance is this song, it provides the perfect lyrics for moments when you feel you need a bit of inspiration!

9. Liquids
Personally, for me on my "flare up" days, I struggle to keep anything down due to being so nauseated. I try to drink some warm water with ginger and lemon. Or, if I am feeling bravely inclined i will have a soup. Though, it's important to know your limitations, and for me on my "flare up" days, solid foods regardless of what it is, just do not stay down. Equally, I also find sucking on an ice cube can be helpful when feeling so nauseated you are even battling to sip on liquids.

10. Talk to someone
It is important to speak to someone that understands you just need someone when you're having a bad day. Periodically, by listening to someone else's day and what they have got up to can help take your mind off the pain temporarily. If you don't have a friend or family to call on, find a support group online, it may help to find other people living with the same condition as you that can relate.

This is just a list of my top ten favourite ways to cope on "flare up" days, but of course there are plenty more methods. Next time you find yourself crying in agony with pain, consider picking something off this list and giving it a go!

"The Hopeful Chronic"


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