Coping with Chronic Conditions
March 3, 2023
Harvard Health Publishing provides 10 steps for coping with a chronic condition like chronic kidney disease. Some of these steps are summarized here:
The first step is to make your doctor a partner in care. However, it is important to take responsibility for your care and not leave everything to your doctor. Listening to your body and tracking its changes can help you do this. For example, if you have hypertension, learn to check your blood pressure. If you have a diabetic, know how to check your sugars and know your A1C. If you have chronic kidney disease, know your stage and your numbers, your GFR and your creatinine levels and how much protein you are leaking.
The second step is to ensure that your treatments are good for the whole you. Have your primary care doctor coordinate your care and build a team of experts that help you learn about your chronic condition the most. Part of the treatment for almost any chronic condition involves lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, losing weight, exercising more, shifting to healthier eating habits, and paying attention to your diet. Although these steps are sometimes forgotten and transferred to the back burner, they shouldn't be. The people who pay attention to their lifestyle and make the necessary changes are more likely to positively manage a chronic condition than those who don't.
The third step is to make a healthy investment in yourself. Investing the time and energy to make healthy changes usually results in striking differences in your outcome ranging from feeling better to stabilizing the chronic condition and living longer with it. Don’t just go about it alone, get family and friends engaged, as lifestyle changes are good for almost anyone.
The fourth step is to learn to manage your medications. Sometimes taking all those pills can be overwhelming. Knowing why you take the drugs you are prescribed, and what problems to watch out for is as important as learning about your condition. Talking with your pharmacist and your doctor and looking up the medication online can help clarify your knowledge.
Lastly, chronic conditions like chronic kidney disease can be complicated by gloomy moods and depression. Depression can hold you back in taking care of yourself and following healthy habits, taking important medications, or following your doctor when you need to. Depression can interfere with your sleep and your appetite. Let your doctor know if you think depression is affecting you.