• Preventative Measures for Chronic Illness

    Chronic illness can strike anyone at any given time. However, there are precipitating factors that can be addressed to decrease your chances of contracting such and illness, as well as ways to detect the illness early to greatly increase your chances of beating it.

    Recently, myself and SpecOpScott have had run-ins with terminal/chronic illness in our families. I am sure we are not alone among the TTP community to have experienced this. Some are dealing with their own chronic illness, others have lost family to an illness. So as you read this, please do not think that this can't happen to you and subsequently disregard the message I hope to convey.
    Attachment 293As time progresses and more knowledge is gained in the medical field, a shift in focus has taken place on healthcare. It has been determined that preventative healthcare is more cost-effective and beneficial than acute healthcare. That is to say: preventing an illness from happening--through lifestyle changes and heath and wellness check-ups--will benefit both the prospective patient and the healthcare system as a whole. Acute illness and injuries will always happen, but the more they can be prevented the better off we all will be, both physically and financially.

    Equate it to your vehicle. It is better and less costly to regularly check your engine oil levels and assure the proper level is maintained than it is to replace your engine because you blew a rod after letting your car run out of oil. It is cheaper to replace your brakes before they get faulty than it is to repair your front end after your faulty brakes caused you to rear-end a car in front of you.

    There are many ways you can prevent, or detect early, a chronic illness. There are many factors that can lead to chronic illness. Some of these factors are due to lifestyle and diet. Simple changes in these can lead to a healthier life. I could go on about what things should change, but that is not the focus I wish this article to take. Perhaps another article in another time can address these things.

    Attachment 294The focus I wish to take is on early detection of a potentially fatal or chronic illness. It was cancer that inspired me to write this, but cancer is by no means the only illness that can be detected early. Diabetes, AIDS, cancer, Hypertension, metabolic disorder, COPD.. the list is long. However, with many or most of these illnesses and disorders, the earlier they are detected, the greater the odds are that they can be maintained, cured or otherwise countered so that you can live a longer, more productive, and better quality life.

    How can you detect things early?

    Attachment 295Regular checkups are one way. Get your physicals when the medical community advises you to. Women, go to your gynecological visits when you're supposed to. Yes, pap smears are uncomfortable; cervical cancer, however, is decidedly MORE uncomfortable, not to mention potentially fatal. The medical community has set up criteria for when people should get certain exams done: When you reach X age, you should get Y exam done. Do these. Men, get your prostate exam done. Women, get your breast exams done. Everyone get your colonoscopies done. These things are not pleasant, so you may feel like you don't want to do them. But remember, this timeline is set up for a reason; and no, it is not to pad the doctor's pocket book. Many chronic illnesses are more likely to happen to people in certain age ranges, to certain sexes.

    Whatever you do, do not ignore these essential exams based on the farce that you don't need them because you "feel fine." You can feel fine with a polyp in your colon, until it becomes a malignant cancer and begins to spread--and then it's may already be too late. That lump in your breast may be from ingesting too much caffeine and may not be cancerous in the slightest; or it may be the start of a tumor--are you willing to take the risk because there's no discomfort?

    Another way is to listen to your body. What do I mean?

    I mean this: pain and discomfort perform a specific function. That function is to alert you that your body is sustaining tissue damage. Externally pain will cause an automatic response of pulling yourself away from what is causing the damage--IE: flinching away from a flame when you touch it. It's there to tell you that something isn't quite right and needs to be addressed.

    Attachment 296If you feel pain or discomfort in an area you know you've done no external injury to, pay attention to it. If it lasts for days or a week, go get it looked at. Do not ignore it and think "Oh, it'll go away. It's nothing." Your body doesn't usually feel discomfort or pain without a reason. It may be that it's simply an infection, or something minute, but are you willing to take the risk?

    This is, of course, less effective than detecting something by regular wellness visits, but still better than simply ignoring what your body is trying to tell you. To give an example: My stepmother has been feeling badly since approximately late last year (November or December). It started with some mild nausea, which happened at the same time as my brother experienced a stomach bug so she figured there was just something going around. But it didn't go away. Next it was pain in her abdomen, that sometimes radiated to her back. Again she ignored it, figuring it would pass. Then the loss of appetite, but that went unnoticed as she was attempting to eat less to lose a little weight anyway. As the signs piled up, she kept excusing them or ignoring them, always feeling they would pass. Until finally the Jaundice set in and she couldn't ignore it any longer.

    She has pancreatic cancer. Her outlook is grim, as is most people's who have this type of cancer. However, she could have greatly increased her chances of fighting it had she gone and gotten looked at when she first started feeling badly.

    Attachment 297Why do I write this now? Perhaps so that seeing this happen to someone you know might make you think past the "it can't happen to me" mentality. Maybe you will not make the mistake my stepmother and others have made. Maybe you will listen to your body when it's telling you something is wrong. Better yet, maybe you will go to your checkups when you should be. And as a result, maybe you'll live a longer and happier life.

    Please. Take care of yourself. It's the only self you have.

    (Since the writing of this article, my step-mother was killed by her cancer on Feb 07, 2009)
    This article was originally published in forum thread: [migrated] Preventative Measures for Chronic Illness started by Walkerxes View original post