While news from a physician that you or a loved one have a newly diagnosed disease or condition most certainly commands your attention, it doesn’t have to become overwhelming. Millions of individuals are in this position each year and go on to manage their new state of health and even improve it. Here are 4 steps you can take for dealing with a new chronic illness diagnosis and getting through each day.
Know your disease.
First of all, ask your provider all the questions you have regarding your diagnosis. Ask them for reputable resources to find more information on managing your particular condition. Find out if it is reversible or if there are things you can do to slow the progression. It may be important for you to know if there is a genetic component and if it can be passed on to your children or grandchildren. When you leave your doctor’s office after receiving a new diagnosis your thoughts will likely be swirling so write down questions that come to you and follow up with your doctor when you feel acceptance has settled in.
Find the best partner.
Your primary care provider may or may not be the best professional to manage your disease. You may need to consult with an expert who will take the lead in helping you best manage your condition and collaborate with your primary provider to optimize your health. Your primary provider may be able to refer you to the specialist you need. If your primary provider does provide a referral, be sure to ask if they have worked with this physician in the past, know them personally or what the reasons are for the referral. Sometimes, providers refer to other providers because they are in the same healthcare system. While this professional may be the best option for you, make certain you know the referral is based on more than convenience or a desire to keep you within a system. You should make a choice based on all the information available to you. After all, it is your health. Ask doctors questions and communicate often.
Devise a plan.
Once you have a clear understanding of your condition and the right professionals in place, create a plan to best manage your disease and optimize your health. This may include dietary and lifestyle changes and finding the right medications that work best for you. Hopefully, you have developed a health philosophy already so this will guide you in the decisions you will make moving forward. Stress most always has an impact on our health and dealing with a new diagnosis can be stressful, so some attention should be paid to appropriately dealing with stress so it doesn’t undermine your efforts to improve your health.
Surround yourself with support.
Share your new diagnosis with trusted friends and family. Isolation is one of the surest ways to increase the chance you will become overwhelmed and that doesn’t promote health or healing. Support can also come from others who have a similar diagnosis and have walked in your shoes. You can learn a great deal from others about coping, treatment methods and the right professionals and organization that offer valuable assistance. Most known chronic and acute disorders have a national organization to offer resources and support to patients. Make good use of the resources available to empower you on your path to optimal health.