How to cope with flare ups when you have chronic health issues

The last couple of months have been very trying for me. I have developed what seems to be an uptake in my GI symptoms and problems with my ileostomy. Getting up five times a night to empty my bag is not something I am used to doing and its wearing. I really feel bad for those ostomates who have to do this. Ive been in and out of the ER as I talked a little bit about in the last blog post and spent so much time at the Dr.’s office I’m starting to feel like I live there. I guess it makes your own bed feel all the better when you get home after a 3 day stretch. biggrin


So all of us with chronic health issues have these times when our symptoms increase or get worse. Everyone’s a little different especially if you are someone with other health issues. I think we are all looking for that quick fix when we go into the ER or into our regular docs and are hopeful things will just go back to normal, or at least what we know to be normal in our lives. I know I did this last week when I went to see my surgeon about a parastomal hernia that I have. This is not my first rodeo with this issue unfortunately. Several docs gave me hope that fixing the hernia would be that quick fix. An end to late night/early mornings at the ER, pain, vomiting, increased output, no output, you get the picture. I drove 3 1/2 hours to see my surgeon and didn’t get my quick fix or really any “good” answers at all and was left sitting in the bathroom crying. So what now? I’m not actually sure. All I know is I have to continue living my life and hope to get the help I need from someone. It’s easy for us to get mad and frustrated at our doctors. In fact, I was driving home and just thought I am gonna fire all my doctors and get new ones. Laughing right now I realize how ridiculous that is. They can’t  fix something that isn’t fixable or safe to fix. We shouldn’t take it personally when our surgeons can’t do a quick surgery to fix ALL our symptoms. 1.Its just not possible. 2. They’re only trying to help us. And 3. Surgeries, especially colon and rectal surgeries are NEVER easy or have a quick recovery without the possibility of future complications. I don’t want to be misunderstood by those future ostomates reading this who are awaiting their surgery date. There are lifesaving and necessary surgeries. There are just no quick fixes when it comes to the colorectal surgery department. 


So I said I would talk about how to cope. You might even be wondering at this point if I know this I have been through these flare ups so many times and every time I learn new things and new ways to cope on my own. I think the saying “what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger” is bit ridiculous and can be a little insensitive depending on who your saying it to. But in my case nothing I’ve gone through has killed me yet, just made me strong as a person in my faith and in my life. So here are some tips, take what you want and leave the rest for someone else:


1. Distract yourself with anything positive: music, movies, FB and social media

2. Get a journal and start writing if you can. You’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come. Its my favorite part!

3. Spend time with family and friends even if you don’t feel like it. Don’t isolate yourself.

4. Take up a reasonable hobby based on your health issues..make it a stretch

5. Get a pet if you don’t already have one. I have my cat and she can be a real monster but I love having her around.

6. Lastly, Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. Ask nicely for what you need however you can do it. Make a list if you need to. And honestly, I talked about firing doctors, but if it gets to that point, maybe talk to one of your trusted and liked doctors about your decision before you make it to get some good advice. I’m not making this a coping skill or recommendation, just thought I’d add this:) 


Take care of your body and only have one combined!! You are worth it!! Peace out and hope you have a blessed week.