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Five unique problems chronic illness patients face (and how to solve them)

 

This post is sponsored by HealthBeacon plc. 

When you think about chronic illness problems, what comes to mind is often symptoms from your condition or financial stressors. Those are of course both very big issues for us!

But we chronic illness patients deal with some additional unique problems that someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness might never consider. In this post, I’m going to address 5 of these problems, as well as what I do to deal with them. 

5 unique problems chronic illness patients face (and how I work to solve them) 

Problem 1: Eating good quality food if you’re too tired, in too much pain, or too sick

How to manage it:

Eating well is personally one of my biggest issues and has been for the past decade. There are a couple of ways to manage this. One is meal prepping, which is when you make (or prep) meals for the upcoming week over the weekend. This is something that can also help you stick to a budget, which is great when you have a chronic illness, as we all know that medical bills rack up quickly.

Another way to manage this is by reducing the amount of prep time involved by subscribing to a meal prep service, buying pre-made meals, and/or buying pre-sliced fruits, vegetables, or other ingredients.

Problem: How boring chronic illness can be

How to manage it: 

Ugh, no one understands how boring it can be to be sick! I often spend much of my time not able to do much but wanting to do things. Try to find a form of entertainment that works for you and doesn’t flare your symptoms. A few ideas include:

  • Putting your phone away and getting lost in a TV show
  • Listening to audiobooks or podcasts
  • Listening to music that inspires you
  • Playing games on your phone
  • Taking online courses
  • Starting a new hobby like cross-stitch, jewelry making, gardening, tutoring, scrapbooking
  • Gentle exercise like yoga
  • Starting an online support group for people living with chronic illness
  • Blogging about your chronic illness (like me!)

Problem: Staying on track with medications  

How to manage it:

I take pills a minimum of 4 times a day, and I had a hard time getting into the rhythm of remembering to take pills all 4 times. To solve this, I set alarms on my phone that don’t have a sound so that I can be reminded to take them but they don’t make too much noise in the middle of the work day.  

Like many chronic illness patients, I know brain fog can also be my worst enemy when it comes to remembering if I took my medication. Ever have a moment where you think, “Did I already take this medication today?” I do, all the time! One solution is to use an app.  

There are apps for everything...including several to help you track taking your medication!  

Another, more low-tech, solution is to keep track in your phone, on a sticky note, in a journal, or on your calendar. For example, “took x med at 9:30 AM on 11/5/2021”.

Problem: The struggle and stress of refilling medication prescriptions

You would think that refilling medications would be easy in today’s day and age. In a lot of ways, it is. But when medications are crucial to your health and life, even a small delay or administrative challenge can be stressful. For example, I started a new medication at the beginning of 2021. Like a lot of medications, it took 3+ months for the medication to start working, but it made a dramatic improvement in my life. It is now essential I get it filled on time.

How to manage it:

One solution is to sign up for 90-day medications when you can. This isn’t available for some medications, but when you can, fill it for 90 days. This may also save you money in the long run!

Another solution is to sign up for your medications to be mailed to you. Then, you don’t have to worry about your local pharmacy being out of it when you need it. Again, this isn’t available for some medications. But if you can get it mailed directly to you, then you can reduce a lot of that stress. Many pharmacies and specialty pharmacies now offer delivery.

Finally, I recommend setting electronic or written reminders to fill your medication. You can do this one of two ways. Most pharmacies can set up auto-reminders on your behalf (either by phone call or text) alternatively, you can set your own electronic or written reminders to stay on top of filling your prescriptions.

Problem: Navigating giving yourself injectable medication 

When living with chronic illness, many of us go from oral medication to medication by injection. It is easy to feel like there isn’t much support for patients who are just starting out with self-injecting! Just the mental barrier of “giving-yourself-a-shot” can be stressful and overwhelming… never mind adding in the administrative burden like ordering from a specialty pharmacy, remembering to take it, storing it, disposing of used sharps, and more. And I know all this from personal experience, speaking as someone who has been on 6 injection medications in the last 11 years. 

How to manage it:

I recommend checking out the Smart Sharps Bin™! This is an entire injection care management system that works to keep you on track with your medication and manage other hassles that many don’t think about until they are faced with the challenge of self-injecting.

If you’re wondering, “Does it really work?”, at least one study indicates that people using the Smart Sharps Bin are 19% more likely to keep up their treatment plan after 12 months than those who are not!

The Smart Sharps Bin and companion app:

  • Remind you when to take your injectable medication
  • Remind you where you injected previously so that you can rotate injection sites
  • Allow you to safely dispose of your sharps at home in a discreet, sleek “smart bin” as opposed to a big red sharps container
  • Build customized injection history reports to bring to your next clinician appointment
  • Offer 24/7 Customer Care support

Oh, and did I mention that the system also makes it easier to return your used sharps? They have a prepaid, USPS mailback service. That makes it even easier to think about things other than your medication. A subscription is required to obtain these benefits.

Kate Mitchell is a Boston-based chronic illness blogger. You can find her blog at katethealmostgreat.com, where she shares things like what to expect after subtalar fusion surgery, how to manage your mental health when you live with chronic illness, what it’s like to live with 6 chronic illnesses, and much more. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Kate is not a user of the Smart Sharps Bin injection care management system.

*Content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not substitute professional medical advice. Always consult and follow the instructions of your healthcare provider and any patient information leaflet for your medicine.

This post is sponsored by HealthBeacon plc, and the author was compensated. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of HealthBeacon or Hamilton Beach Brands.  

 

Life with Chronic Illness Medication Management

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