You’ve Been Diagnosed With a Chronic Condition: Now What?

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7 essential tips for dealing with a chronic disease diagnosis

Key takeaways:

  • Learn about your condition
  • Be invested in your care
  • Gather a team to support you
  • Make a medication management plan
  • Think about your treatment preferences
  • Prepare for emergencies
  • Sign up for ERinfo

Being diagnosed with a chronic condition can feel very scary and confusing. You have to manage this condition for the rest of your life, whether your diagnosis is diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, or countless other illnesses. You may be wondering where you should go from here.

What changes do you need to make to your life? How do you manage everyday activities and also plan for emergencies? Coping with a chronic diagnosis can feel like an emotional roller coaster, and if you just want to hide under the covers, you are far from alone. However, the best approach is to be as proactive as possible so you can get your life back. Here are seven tips for living with a chronic condition diagnosis.

1. Learn as much as possible about your condition

Knowledge is often the best antidote to fear. Take the time to learn as much as possible about your condition. Start by talking with your doctor and asking him or her for information. Keep in mind that the internet can be a very useful place to do research, but it also has a lot of unvetted information, especially about healthcare. Ask your doctor for recommendations of online resources to ensure you’re getting the most accurate details possible.

2. Become a partner in your own care 

Invest in yourself by becoming a partner in your care. Make sure that you are following your doctor’s recommendations and find strategies to help yourself feel better whenever possible. This may involve taking medication as instructed, getting more sleep, and changing eating or lifestyle habits, but of course, the specifics vary based on your condition.

3. Gather a team to support you

You should not have to deal with a chronic condition on your own. Gather a team of people to support you. Your healthcare team may include your primary care doctor, specialists who understand your condition, and nurses who are ready to answer your questions. Also, get your family on board.

Talk with your extended friends and family about how they can support you if you live on your own, and if you live with family members, try to make your health a group effort. You may need to change your diet, for instance, if you have diabetes, and finding low-carb, low-sugar meals that the whole family enjoys can help you to feel less alone.

4. Make a plan to manage your medications

You may need to take medication to manage your chronic disease and to ensure you stay on top of everything, you should make a medication management plan. Set up a routine so that you always remember to take your pills at the same time and consider using a pillbox to keep track of your daily doses more easily.

Decide how you are going to obtain your medication, as well. Many people can simply run to their nearest pharmacy, but if you live in a remote area, you may need to arrange transportation or look into getting your medication delivered through the mail. Also, be proactive about scheduling appointments to update your prescriptions so that you never have to deal with a gap in your care.

5. Think about your treatment preferences

Actively managing your condition is only one part of dealing with a chronic diagnosis. You also need to set aside some time to think about your healthcare treatment preferences. You may want to talk with your doctor, as well as trusted friends and family or your clergy, as you make tough decisions.

Think about how you want to treat your condition. You may want to stick with traditional treatment options, explore alternative healthcare ideas, or play with a blend of both. Some people with cancer, for example, opt to go through chemo, while others try alternative treatments and still, others blend chemo with natural remedies to deal with its side effects.

6. Prepare for emergencies

Imagine what type of medical emergencies you are most likely to face based on your condition and make a plan to deal with the unexpected. You may want aspirin on hand, for example, if you have a heart condition and face a heightened risk of cardiac arrest. You may need a specially trained service dog if you’ve been diagnosed with narcolepsy – when they detect you are about to have an attack, they can direct you to a chair so you don’t fall and get hurt.

Talk with your care team to get an idea of how to prepare for emergencies related to your chronic condition.  Also, consider questions like the following. Do you want to be resuscitated? Who do you want the first responders to contact if they find you unconscious? Make a medical directive or a living will so that you can clearly communicate your healthcare preferences.

7. Sign up for ERinfo

Sign up for ERinfo when making your emergency plan. ERinfo helps in situations where you are unconscious and it can save your life if you do not have your ID or medical history on you. Emergencies can strike anywhere if you have a chronic condition.

Someone may suffer a seizure, have a heart attack, or face another tragic event and be rendered unresponsive in a public setting. Someone may get hit by a vehicle or attacked by a criminal, even if they do not have a chronic condition. The first responders cannot contact your family or look at your medical records if they don’t know who you are, and while this lack of information can always compromise your healthcare, it can be deadly if you have a chronic condition.

ERinfo can save your life in these situations. First responders can simply scan your face if they find you unresponsive. Then, they can instantly identify you, your emergency contacts, and information about your chronic condition and your medications.

Sign up and Let ERinfo Help You

A chronic condition changes your life forever, but by being proactive, you can ensure that you stay as safe and comfortable as possible. Work with your family and healthcare providers, but also become invested in your own care. Take time to prepare for the unexpected and invest in resources like ERinfo.

ERinfo puts you in control of your care, even if you are unconscious or don’t have an ID. You decide what information you want to upload when you become a member, and you can share as much or as little as you want. Ideally, you should be as detailed as possible when you have a chronic condition. Ready to protect yourself? Sign up for ERinfo today.