George Pegios - Living with a long-term illness (also called chronic) poses new challenges for a person. Learning to meet those challenges is a long process - it is not something that can be achieved overnight. But understanding what happens to you and participating actively in your health care will help you face those challenges.
Many people find that taking an active role in treating a chronic health problem helps them feel stronger and more prepared to face the many difficulties and trials that life has in store for them.
George Pegios - What is a chronic disease?
There are two types of diseases: acute and chronic. Acute illnesses (such as a cold or the flu) are usually relatively short-lived. However, chronic diseases are long-lasting health problems (the word "chronic" comes from the Greek term chronos, which means time).
Having a chronic disorder does not necessarily mean having a serious or life-threatening illness - although some chronic illnesses, such as cancer and AIDS, can. Chronic diseases also include disorders like asthma, arthritis, and diabetes. Even though the symptoms of a chronic illness may disappear with medical care, the person usually continues to suffer from the underlying illness - although the treatments they receive may involve feeling healthy and feeling well much of the time.
Each chronic disease has its own symptoms, treatment and evolution. Except for the fact that they are relatively long-lasting, the various chronic diseases do not necessarily resemble each other in other ways. Most people with chronic illnesses do not think of themselves as "chronically ill" but rather as someone with a specific disorder - such as asthma, arthritis, diabetes, lupus, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, leukemia or the specific disease they have.
If you have a chronic illness, it may affect you not only physically, but also emotionally, socially, and sometimes even financially. How a person is affected by a chronic disease depends on the particular disease they have and how it affects their body, the severity of the disease and the type of treatments it requires. Accepting and adjusting to the reality of chronic illness takes time, but young people who are willing to learn about their illness, seek and accept the support of others, and actively participate in their health care generally successfully overcome the coping process.
George Pegios - The coping process
Most people go through various phases in the process of assuming they have a chronic disease and learning to live with it. When a person is diagnosed with a specific chronic disease, they can feel many things.
Some people feel vulnerable, confused, and concerned about their health and their future. Others are disappointed and self-pity. Some find what has happened to them unfair and are angry with themselves and with the people they love.
These feelings are part of the beginning of the coping process. Each person reacts differently, but all reactions are completely normal.
The next phase of the coping process is to learn things about the disease. Most people who have to live with a chronic illness discover that knowledge is power - the more they know about their disorder, the more they feel that they control the situation and the less it scares them.
The third phase of the process of coping with a chronic disease consists of taking charge of the situation. At this stage, the person feels comfortable with the treatments and tools such as inhalers and injections that must be used to lead a normal life.