Posted in coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, In the Know

Know Your Illness

We get a diagnosis and we think we understand all that entails.  Often patients aren’t aware of the complications that accompany a particular illness.  You focus on the primary diagnosis and are surprised when something, you think, pops up out of the blue, but to the medical professionals it’s not a surprise.

As an example, let’s look at diabetes.  There are the obvious problems associated with diabetes and a medication regimen or treatment protocol involving diet and exercise are implemented.  Unless the patient is given a thorough education about the illness they may be surprised when the disease progresses and vision problems occur or down the road kidney failure enters the picture.

It’s not just physical ailments, but psychological ailments as well.  Those with eating disorders, if not treated, not only do they continue to lose or gain weight, but a host of problems often arise.  In the case of someone who is anorexic, if their weight drops too suddenly and not under medical care there is a chance of kidney failure or heart attack due to electrolyte imbalance.  Bulimics run the risk that their esophagus will be eroded due to the acid that accompanies regurgitation.

It’s not only the primary diagnosis we need to be concerned about the secondary and tertiary problems that can arise.  This is why patient education programs need to be thorough. If patients are aware of the drastic consequences of their actions, they may be more inclined to be compliant with medication or other treatment regimens.

Have you experienced a secondary illness arising from your primary diagnosis?  How did you cope with the complexities of multiple health challenges?  What information would you have needed at the start of your journey to wellness to side step those complications?  When you share and tell your story you empower yourself and others to be better health consumers.

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