A lot of what I write about is inspired by my day-to-day life with chronic illness. So since I have spent the last 16 hours bellyaching--literally, because of a stomach virus--I thought it was time to talk about how I manage sick on top of chronic. You know, how I deal with the occasional to frequent stomach viruses, colds, influenza and other acute and self-limiting illnesses that everyone gets.
While most healthy people seems to be able to soldier on when they get sick, for me catching a cold or stomach bug means implementing Plan B. This includes:
- Canceling out-of-the-house trips
- Enlisting my support system's help
- Scheduling tons and tons of extra rest
- Using a grocery delivery service like Yummy.com to deliver sick day staples
- Going to, or at least seriously considering, a trip to the doctor
- Cutting back on my daily activities
I also know that I am going to have to be patient while I battle a viral illness. In the past, it has taken me up to two weeks to get over a simple common cold. Then I have to anticipate the post-illness flare-up of my fibromyalgia pain and chronic fatigue symptoms. Which means returning to my normal baseline from a common cold can take 4 to 6 weeks total.
In light of the major changes a cold or flu brings, I have spent some time research preventive measures that I can take to avoid getting sick. I am diligent about washing my hands and avoiding touching my face with my hands, especially when I am out in public. Certainly spending most of my time at home has cut down on my exposure to viral illnesses. Well, that is until my husband brings something home and gets sick himself...
When I was first diagnosed with diabetes in 1999, I got the pneumonia vaccination. I also used to get an annual flu shot up until 2008, when the shot that year provoked a massive migraine headache. Since then, after talking to my doctor about it, I have decided to skip the flu shot.
One positive change I have noticed is the result of taking a daily Vitamin D supplement after being diagnosed with a low Vitamin D level. I've definitely seen a decrease in the number of viral infections I get since my levels have returned to the normal range. When I do get sick, my symptoms don't seem to last as long. Apparently there is scientific research to back up the cold and flu prevention power of Vitamin D.
So What Do You Do?
I'd love to hear about your sick day Plan B and what prevention measures you take to avoid colds and the flu. Please leave a comment here or head over to the Oh My Aches and Pains Facebook page and join the discussion there.