Medical appointments with a chronic health condition

Hello and a warm welcome to my blog post regarding medical appointments. I hope that you are managing to enjoy at least some of this glorious weather that we are having here in the UK.

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I’m sure most of you are aware by now if you read my blog, or follow my Facebook page ‘Flourishing MK’ that I have a chronic pain condition.

I have had this condition for a number of years now. When you have a chronic, or long-term health condition in a way it becomes ‘normal’ and routine to attend the GP on a regular basis and Hospital appointments on a regular basis.

However, even with a pre-existing long-term health condition – like most other people, new physical symptoms can arise over time. New symptoms that could potentially point to other issues with the body.

So although as a person with a chronic health condition you can be used to regular checks for one issue, the potential for other issues and the ‘unknown’ in my experience can trigger lot’s of anxiety:

Firstly for having to have the test/ procedure done in the first place…

Thoughts, or concerns could maybe include:

  • What might happen during the test?
  • Will the test hurt, be uncomfortable?
  • Will the test make my pain worse, e.g. if you have to lay still for a while in a CT, or MRI scanner.
  • Will the medical staff treat you with understanding, care and respect?

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and then,

Waiting by the phone, or waiting for a follow-up appointment with the Dr to get the results! How long will it take to get the results and then what may the results mean for your health and your future?

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Not a great place in which to be. I understand and have been there myself.

So I would be really interested to hear from others how you manage your anxiety in these situations?

Here are my top 5 strategies:

 

1. Attend every appointment, or test offered to you.

I can appreciate the anxiety that each new test and appointment may bring as I mentioned above.

Also, the need potentially to avoid facing up to the reality of the situation (I have been here myself in the past also).

However, in my experience it is important for the medical staff involved in your care to get as much information as possible about what could be going on with your body.

If it helps maybe think of each test, appointment as a jigsaw piece…

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Once you have all of the pieces of the jigsaw, hopefully your Dr will have a fuller picture of what is going on. They can rule out certain conditions and eventually (fingers crossed!) can diagnose what is wrong and get you the correct treatment.

 

2. Walks out in nature

Reconnecting with nature, even for 10-15 minutes per day can be incredibly calming and healing.

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If your condition doesn’t permit you to walk very far, perhaps try a short walk and then sit on a bench and try this short mindfulness exercise.

Soak in all the elements, try to be as ‘present’ as possible whilst sitting and focus on:

The weight on your body as it sits on the bench.

Maybe feeling the buttocks and the back of your thighs in contact with the bench. Feeling the feet in contact with the floor.

Feeling the breath in the body.

You may choose to focus on the breath in your nostrils as you breath in and out. Alternatively you could focus on the breath in the front, sides and back of the chest as your lungs expand and retract with each in and out breath.

Another good place to focus on is the breath in the belly as you breath. Feeling the            gentle swell of the belly on the in breath and the subsiding of the belly on the                      out-breath.

You might like to close the eyes for a few moments and focus on the sounds that you can hear around you.

You may hear the sounds of the leaves rustling in the wind. The sound of water if you are near a lake/ sea. You may hear the wind. You may hear children playing, or the soft hum of cars in the distance…

Approach this with a sense of openness and curiosity and see what arises…

Finally you can focus on what you see around you.

This is one of my favourites. I love to focus on what I can see in nature, especially animals, flowers and water.

 

3. Music

Listening to your favourite music, or watching your favourite film, or TV series can be a great way to lift your mood and calm your anxiety.

Maybe if your condition permits a trip out to the cinema can be a great way to connect with friends/ family. Also a healthy way to distract the mind from anxious thoughts surrounding medical tests, and, or results…We are not saying that the worries about the test results don’t matter – but if a distraction for a couple of hours helps you through a tough time then in my eyes it is definitely worth it 🙂

I recently saw the film Ant Man and the Wasp, I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it already.

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4. Get creative

I highly recommend creative approaches to helping you manage your anxiety in a better way.

This could include a number of things. Maybe try a few different activities and see which ones work for you…

 

Some of my favourites are:

 

Mindful colouring

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I love a bit of mindful colouring. You can get mindfulness colouring books and magazines from almost anywhere now and there are lots of different designs out there, so you are bound to find something that inspires you.

You can use any materials that you like to colour with as well, including pencils, crayons and felt pens.

 

Drawing

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I love to draw and if I have the right inspiration with a picture I can spend hours happily absorbed in creating my next ‘masterpiece’.

 

Photographing nature

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I love getting my phone out and photographing nature. Flowers are my favourite thing to photograph.

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I would love to hear from you, if you enjoy creative approaches to anxiety and pain management. What things do you enjoy doing?

 

5. Seek out help from friends, family, or a trusted professional counsellor 

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I cannot emphasis this final point strongly enough.
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If you are able to, I would highly recommend seeking out the help and support of friends and family.
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If this is not possible to do for whatever reason…
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Or you find that you are struggling to come to terms with your condition, or your mental health is suffering – I would highly recommend seeking out the services of a qualified professional counsellor.
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Having the support of someone that you can trust and who isn’t going to judge you is really liberating in my experience.
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Personal counselling and a regular mindfulness practice have helped me through some very tough times!
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You can find a local counsellor, or local counselling service online via google, or another search engine. A good place to start is Counselling Directory for a list of private Counsellors in your area. Find online at: www.counselling-directory.org.uk
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You can look at each Counsellors profile to get a feel for their skills and experience and to see if you feel you could work with this counsellor. Here is a screen shot of what the page looks like:
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If you are in crisis I would recommend phoning the Samaritans on: 116 123
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This is a free phone number to ring and they are there 24/7, 365 days per year.
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Alternatively visit your GP, or local A and E department for help and support.
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I hope that this blog has been helpful.
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As ever if you have any questions, or want to get in touch, please leave me a comment, or visit my Facebook page ‘Flourishing MK’.
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Have a great week,
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Best wishes,
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Mary x

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