Approaching Life with Chronic Disease – What to DO

As health care professionals, we are always so quick to point out the DON’Ts in approaching life with illness.  Here is Gunnar Esiason’s “common sense approaches to living life with a chronic illness that everyone can find useful.

  1. Follow Direction

Be consistent with your care and your therapies.  Never skip on yourself.

  1. Designate a First Responder

Designate family members or member or friend who you can rely on to know what to do if you have a medical emergency and can respond to any exacerbations you may have.

  1. Be Organized

Keep the list of medications and paperwork that has to do with your health in good order.  It could be a file that your responders can use in case of emergency.   Please clean equipment in your care after each use (i.e. thermometers).

  1. Use Trusted Sources of Information

Dr. Google, well-meaning friends, and strangers are notoriously wrong.  Please write down questions or concerns to review with your healthcare team.

  1. Get the Most Out of Your Appointments

Make notes and lists of questions when you meet with your healthcare team.  Bring a friend or family member for support; they often think of things you may miss or forget in the moment.

  1. Have Faith in Yourself

In the beginning of managing chronic illness, there may be many changes to your life. However, soon you will begin to settle into a new normal and you will be surprised at how well you are handling things.

  1. Ask for Help

Focus on your health and staying well and allow others to do things for you. Local volunteer groups can offer care giving help as well as help around the house and garden.

  1. Don’t Let Negative Feelings Get You Down

You will need to push aside anger, frustration and sadness.  Focus on getting well. Try to be positive about your treatment plan.

  1. Be Adaptable

Depending on how severe your illness is, you may find that you simply cannot do as much as you used to or live your life exactly as you did before.  Try to embrace a new healthy lifestyle.  Be selective with your calendar.  Your health comes first so be selective.

  1. Laugh

Laughter will not cure your chronic illness but it will make life with it more fun.  Spend time with people who make you happy and take joy wherever you can find it.


Evelyn Gilkinson is the Nurse Lead for Charlton Health Inc. Before devoting herself solely to Infusing Biologics, Gilkinson worked at Toronto General Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre (Adelaide, Australia), and the London Health Science Centre in Thoracic Step Down, neonate, pediatric and adult Intensive Care, Recovery Room, and Emergency Medicine. Evelyn has done research for The Canadian Cervical Spine Study and with the AIM Health Group. She established the first out-of Hospital Infusion Centres in London and Waterloo. For the last twelve years, Evelyn was the Nurse Supervisor for South Western Ontario for many infusion sites until joining the Charlton team in the summer of 2016.


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