Monday, October 18, 2010

Question of the Week: How Do You Manage Sick on Top of Chronic?

Poster encouraging citizens to "Consult y...Image via Wikipedia
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.

Plan B

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:
  1. Canceling out-of-the-house trips
  2. Enlisting my support system's help
  3. Scheduling tons and tons of extra rest
  4. Using a grocery delivery service like Yummy.com to deliver sick day staples
  5. Going to, or at least seriously considering, a trip to the doctor
  6. 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.

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Anonymous said...

I have chronic sinus infections, due in part, to a faulty immune system. There are antibodies produced in the digestive tract that are practically non-extisent in mine. I know when I'm getting one even if all the usual symptoms don't appear. If it gets really bad in that the pain and pressure is too much to bear after a period of time, I have to take a round of antibiotics. My pcp and I try to limit this as much as possible.

I had the full blown flu for the first time in ages this summer. I was less sick than my husband (he threw up for the 1st time in the 28years I've know him), but I sure took longer to recover, and my disgestive system is still out of whack (which started with a GI issue I caught from my mom in December 2009.)

I discovered adult gummy vitamins last year and although the delivery method includes sugar, etc., I find that I actually do remember to take them, and due to digestive issues, often didn't completely absorb the tablet/capsule versions. This way, I feel I am more likely to absorb the contents.
I'm can be very deficient in D, and B12. Before the gummy B12s, it was often so low I needed B12 shots. Last blood test, my D was up too.
When I'm sick with a cold, I try to drink lots of fluids including broths, limit dairy, and try and get as much rest as possible. Colds can lead to sinus or chest infections (again, and deficient immune system)so I watch those carefully, too.
Since many of my underlaying health issues "feel" like the onset of the flu, cold, etc., sometimes things get out of hand before I realize it.

Rosemary Lee said...

I've skipped flu shots but I did get the pneumonia shot. When I get a cold it automatically goes into pneumonia so the shot has been a godsend.

When I get sick I don't do anything. I concentrate on getting well. I don't go out. I didn't know about yummy.com. I wonder if LV has the ability to get this.

Because we have a tough time already we have to treat ourselves with loving care.