Taking the time to listen and care for your body is a critical life-skill. This is true for everyone, but especially when you’re living with chronic health conditions.
Sylvia of Virginia is living with lupus SLE, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), depression, and chronic back pain. She responded to our story request inviting people to share their self-care strategies.
Please remember everyone needs different tools to cope. This article is a description of what works for Sylvia. Please check with your doctor before making any changes that could impact your health
“For me, self-care means taking the initiative.
When I work for myself, I feel healthy and active in my life.
Going to the doctor can be overwhelming when you have multiple appointments.
Once I showed up early for Pain Management and realized I was sitting at my Rheumatologist’s office. I was very frustrated, and this mistake taught me to document dates, times, and locations for each appointment.
I’m also diligent about my lab work. My physicians and I monitor the lab work together. If numbers are not where they are supposed to be, we work on improving them.
Personally, My health depends on my active participation in my own wellness. This means taking all treatments as prescribed by my doctors* and following up to make sure they are refilled on time. I take injections as prescribed and understand that this, too, is important in my self-care.
*Medical or treatment compliance is following advice from one’s medical team. Compliance can reduce hospital readmission, improve quality of care, and sometimes even reduce costs.
Compliance covers all aspects of health including:
Treatment: Taking medicines as prescribed.
Laboratory: Getting lab tests done as ordered.
Appointments: Be present and on time.
Nutrition and Exercise: Following suggestions and what feels right for your body.
Eating Well and Exercise
Body awareness is another factor for me. I am observant and mindful of any changes in my body. If I feel or see something unusual, I get it checked out immediately. Eating what feels right for my body and getting in steps is a massive part of that process.
Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol require that I be mindful of diet. I avoid sugar, high sodium foods, and take the time to read labels.
I also keep an exercise routine walking weekly to keep my muscles and joints strong. When I am in a rheumatoid arthritis flare, I sometimes exercise in a chair.
My mental health requires that I have a space to sit and meditate. This quiets everything down, and I feel so much peace. It has been a joy to incorporate this into my self-care regularly.
Family & Community Support
My most significant support and comfort have been my community.
When I share my story, I realize that I’m not alone, and there is a community of people who share the same diseases.
Great doctors help as well, especially when I feel they have my best interest at heart.
Family provides moral support and the love of knowing they care. They are with me on good days and bad days.
Lastly, awareness advocacy, speaking out, and using my voice is also a big part of my self-care. Sharing my story has been healing on many levels.”