‘An ill day can still be a good day’: 10 ways to live well with long Covid and chronic illness

I found this article very interesting an insightful on the effects of long Covid and other chronic conditions:

Being chronically ill is challenging and often upsetting – but there can be hope and happiness along the way. Start by giving yourself a break and some appreciation.

More than 1 million people in the UK are experiencing long Covid, according to the Office for National Statistics. Much of the media coverage of this has been bleak and upsetting. That is understandable. Chronic illness is bleak and upsetting, particularly the early stages of falling sick. But there is something else that no one tells you: it can be hopeful and happy, too. I fell ill with postviral fatigue from the flu a few years ago and what I craved above anything was advice and reassurance. I will not claim I am sorted. I am writing this in bed. There may be cheese in my hair. But I will offer my top 10 tips on living well, even when knackered and sore.

You are (not) what you eat

No diet will heal you – ignore any social media wellness advert that tells you otherwise. But it is useful to check for deficiencies. Get an iron test. Take a vitamin D supplement in winter. And eat a Twirl. For medicinal purposes.

Celebrate the small wins

One of the strangest things about chronic illness is that things that previously warranted no attention can be herculean tasks. Try making a list of three wins a day, from getting out of bed to washing your hair. It is not about lowering your expectations, but crediting yourself for achievements. You are doing brilliantly. Even if you don’t feel like it.

Find your people

Friends and family can be a great support, but it is often helpful to find people who really understand. Try chronic illness Instagram accounts such as chronicillnesshumorlaraeparkeryoulookokaytome and notyourgrandmasukThe Rest Room podcast has lots of practical tips, while Is That a Fact? will just make you laugh. 

Ups and downs

Every day is different with chronic illness – and that is really hard. Do not be disheartened. Yes, a fluctuating condition means you can go from feeling OK to a flare up, but it also means you can feel better again. Don’t overdo it on the good days or chastise yourself on the bad ones. Chronic illness is not a race; it is natural to go off course.

Don’t push it

It is human to try to “push through” illness – or to think exercise always makes us fitter – but if you are chronically ill it often causes more harm (sometimes permanent) than good. Listen to your body. Rest is work, too.

Go with your gut

I don’t want to get too sexy, but let’s talk about bloating. Pain relief is useful, but can cause havoc on the gut. Prunes and natural yoghurt relieve nausea. If you are regularly taking anti-inflammatories, ask your GP whether a drug such as lansoprazole is suitable for you; your stomach lining may thank you.

Coping with the bad days

Let yourself miss things. Have a cry. Have another. Forced positivity can be toxic. Allowing yourself a feeling will let it pass soon enough. Try to notice what helps you during these spells and keep those things in your armoury, be it meditation or rewatching Friends. You are dealing with more in a day than many have to in a month, so give yourself a break.

Doctors are not gods

While most doctors try their best, NHS underfunding, a lack of research and ableism mean chronically ill patients are too often left to fend for themselves. Don’t assume medics will automatically offer the help you need. Do your own research. Persevere. That is probably the last thing you feel like doing when you are struggling for energy, but if you can, do. Remember: you are your greatest advocate and the most accomplished expert on your body.

Feel yourself

Chronic illness can be a hammer blow to your sense of identity. You will feel consumed by the race to get back to how you were, but the real quest is to get back to who you were. Put on your red lipstick while wearing your pyjamas. Sing to your favourite album from your bed. You are still you, even if you are more tired.

Uncertainty

The thing about chronic illness, particularly postviral conditions, is that you have no idea when or if it will end. Living with that uncertainty can be harder than any symptom. But it means it is more important than ever to make the best of how things are. That is the thing about chronic illness: an ill day can still be a good day. There will be a moment, perhaps not long from now, when you are in pain, but realise you are dancing to the radio. Or you will laugh a full belly laugh with a friend and find you are not thinking about each hard breath. Life has a habit of carrying on. Yours is not over.

Full article: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/apr/22/10-ways-live-well-with-long-covid-chronic-illness

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s