Many people living with multiple illnesses don’t just manage symptoms, they also adhere to a medication schedule and may need to repeatedly adjust their overall regimen (with their doctors’ input) due to how medicines interact. Staying on top of treatments alone can have a significant impact on one’s life.
Starting in 2006, Ursla received one diagnosis after another — and had to manage an increasingly complicated prescription list. Here, Urlsa shares some insights gained from years of coping and adaptation.
I had six illnesses diagnosed within five years.
In 2006, I was hospitalized for a headache I’d suffered for 17 weeks. [I’d made] multiple trips to the ER and none of the treatments worked. I was diagnosed with pseudotumor [cerebri syndrome] and diabetes at that time.
In 2009 I was diagnosed with gastroparesis and shortly after, asthma. It seems like everything spiraled after the asthma diagnosis. I was hospitalized for the worst asthma attack and nearly lost my life. I was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism which led to surgery.
Within a year I would also be diagnosed with lupus. This was the diagnosis that actually scared me because I didn’t know much about it except what my cousins who had it experienced. I quickly learned it affected everyone differently.
Multiple conditions means multiple medications.
The hardest thing about living with multiple health conditions for me is managing the medication for each without [them] causing issues with the other illnesses. Medication for the asthma increases complications with my blood sugar. The gastroparesis interferes with all of my medications because I have a difficult time breaking [medication] down and absorbing it. This of course affects the effectiveness of my thyroid medication and causes my numbers to be dangerously high. It’s always a struggle for me.
This journey would be so much more difficult without the help of my medical care team and my friends and family who support me. [They] help me stay on track by reminding me when and how to take my medicine and [to] not get discouraged when it becomes overwhelming.
My advice to others would be to just open up about what you feel each day, what you struggle with, and ask for help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to share your good days and bad. Also, accept the encouragement and support you receive from your team.
It’s OK to say, “I need help” or “I’m having a hard day.”
I’d like to inspire others to not be so hard on yourself as you figure out how to make your routine work for you and when you have to adjust your routine to manage your illnesses. When it gets to be too much, seek help.
It’s OK to not be a superhero, because you are a hero to someone who is inspired by your journey.
Diagnosed with lupus, diabetes, asthma, hypothyroidism, gastroparesis, bipolar disorder, osteoarthritis
Do you have experience managing multiple medications for diagnosed conditions? If so, we invite you to share what you’ve learned.